Saturday, March 19, 2011

On the lighthouse trail: Fort Point underneath the Golden Gate Bridge

The Fort Point lighthouse at the southern end of the Golden Gate is the second-built lighthouse of California [1]. The present, diminutive Fort Point Lighthouse is the third to stand at this point [2]. On top of the fort's roof and underneath the roadbed of the Golden Gate Bridge, it indeed makes a dwarf appearance, when compared with typically erect and stand-alone lighthouse structures dominating a shoreline silhouette.

Trailing through Fort Point's former bedrooms and exhibits, you can find a lot of information and interesting historical photographs of Fort Point and the Golden Gate Bridge: The U.S. Lighthouse Service keepers extinguished the light of the third lighthouse for the last time in 1934, due to the construction of the bridge, which now connects the tip of the San Francisco Peninsula with the southern end of the Marin Headlands.

The first lighthouse was build in 1853, around the time when the United States Goverment funded the construction of a chain of 59 lighthouses along the coast of California. The Fort Point structure was one of thirteen serving San Francisco Bay, making the passage through the treacherous water of the Golden Gate a little safer. The first lighthouse was replaced by a second one near the water in 1855, when the construction of the fort began. The second lighthouse was removed to permit construction of a seawall and the third Fort Point light was finished in 1864.

My favorite architectural element of this lighthouse: the open spiral staircase.

[1] San Francisco Bay: Fort Point Light.
[2] Fort Point, CA.

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