April 25, 2009

Historic Crissy Field in San Francisco

Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy has done the most amazing job with its restoration of historic Crissy Field in San Francisco, California. This former airfield is adjacent to the bay sitting within the Presidio of San Francisco, my home for awhile. If you get a chance to visit, you will find this row of hangars that now house a kids gymnastics club and another with rock climbing walls.

We like to walk along this area at any time of the day because there are always lots of to see and interesting people watching. The thick grassy fields in front of the hangars are perfect for dogs to run on, and for families to picnic. Be sure and stop by the Crissy Field Center for lots of helpful information - it provides hands-on, multicultural, state-of-the-art environmental education to kids, teens, and adults.

This former army base is a must see for anyone visiting the area for the first time. The vantage points you have of the city and the bay are lovely and perfectly opposite to the steep hills of Hyde Street or the crooked Lombard Street on Russian Hill.

Crissy Airfield
A row of hangars and a slippery seaplane ramp evoke an era when a squadron of airplanes stood ready for action at Crissy Field. This military airfield is actually older than the air force, dating back to the 1920s when flying had barely gotten off the ground.

In those days, so little was known about nationwide flying conditions that the US Army sent a team of fliers from Crissy Field and from an eastern counterpart at the same time to see who could reach the opposite coast first.

In the absence of any real enemy, Crissy’s squadron (the 91st Aero) flew forest fire patrols, spotted for seacoast fortifications, and took aerial photos. Crissy was also used during the first coast-to-coast transcontinental flight to be completed between dawn and dusk.

Here are a few extra tips for visitors, just in time for summer travel season:

- Bring sweatshirts, sunglasses for the kids (the sand sometimes blows), and a friendly attitude toward dogs. The water is usually clean and safe (warnings are posted as appropriate).

- Get a snack at the Warming Hut café, and stop by the Marine Sanctuary Visitor Center to touch a sea otter pelt or a live sea star.

- Return barefoot along the beach, then pop into the Crissy Field Center to learn more about this shoreline’s history­ and perhaps have another snack at the Center’s café.

- Park in beachfront lots just west of the Marina gate.

- The wind usually picks up by mid-day. If you want a quiet walk, go during the early morning hours.

- The beach can be seen at its widest during low tide.

- You can legally fish or crab without a license at Torpedo Wharf at the west end of Crissy Field. Look for posted regulations.


  1. I will have to pass this onto my plane crazed boyfriend. He is always off on little trips around the US shooting planes and hangars. The trip sounds perfect for summer.

  2. Hi Cate - This area in general has amazing views and cool historic buildings. They've done a great job restoring the buildings.

    If he does visit, he should also consider a quick drive south to Moffett Field - www.moffettfieldmuseum.org/


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