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Treasure Island is an artificial island in the San Francisco Baymarker between San Franciscomarker and Oaklandmarker. It is connected by a small isthmus to Yerba Buena Islandmarker. It was created in 1936 & 1937, from fill dredged from the bay, for the Golden Gate International Exposition. According to the United States Census Bureau, Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island together have a land area of 2.334 km2 (0.901 sq mi) with a total population of 1,453 as of the 2000 census. The island is named after the novel Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson, who lived in San Francisco from 1879 to 1880.

Treasure Island is entirely within the City and County of San Franciscomarker, whose territory extends far into San Francisco Baymarker and includes a tip of Alameda Islandmarker.

The island has a raised walkway, circumscribing almost its entire bulk, which is popular for recreation. Sea lions can be observed in the water from the shoreline, and construction of the new eastern span of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridgemarker can be observed from the eastern part of the island.The island used to have a gas station, but it is currently unused. It is served by a single Muni bus route, the 108 Treasure Island. It has a job training center, and is also home to San Franciscans and many college students who attend school downtown.


Treasure Island was built with imported fill on shoals on the north side of Yerba Buena Island for the Expo in 1939. The island sits in the "middle" of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridgemarker. Built by the federal government, Treasure Island was planned for and used as an airport for Pan American Airline's Pacific Rim service of flying boats, of which the China Clipper is an example. After the 1939–40 World's Fair of the Golden Gate International Exposition, the island was scheduled to be used as an airport when the Navy offered to exchange Mills Fieldmarker on the San Francisco Peninsula near the city of Millbraemarker for the island. The City and County of San Franciscomarker accepted the swap, and the airport was built at Mills Field.

During World War II, Treasure Island became part of the Treasure Island Naval Base, and served largely as an electronics and radio communications training school, and as the major Navy departure point for sailors in the Pacific.

In 1996, Treasure Island and the Presidiomarker Army Base were decommissioned and opened to public control, under stipulations. Treasure Island is now part of District 6 of the City and County of San Franciscomarker, though it is still owned by the Navy.

Building One is a Streamline Moderne-styled remnant of the World's Fair and is one of the few buildings remaining from the exposition. Originally intended as the terminal for the airport, it housed the Treasure Island Museum from 1976 to 1997. Today it serves largely as offices for The Villages, a private apartment rental agency. The former housing for officers and their families is rented out to the general public, pending redevelopment and reconstruction of buildings on the island, slated for 2012-2014.

A substantial part of the island is undergoing environmental cleanup by the federal government.

Film studios

[[Image:TI Indy.jpg|thumb|250px|right|Treasure Island Administrative Building (portraying Berlin Tempelhof Airportmarker) as seen in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The building was built for the Island's World's Fair.]]From the late 1980s and onward, Treasure Island's old aircraft hangars served as sound stages used in film and television productions.

In 1988, Treasure Island stood in for the Berlin airport in Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Numerous pictures starring Robin Williams were filmed on the island, including Flubber, What Dreams May Come, Patch Adams and Bicentennial Man. Sigourney Weaver's character in the thriller Copycat lived in an impressive private compound on the island. Also filmed there was The Parent Trap and it was used in an establishing shot of The Caine Mutiny, the trial which ostensibly takes place on Treasure Island, though this is never mentioned or referenced in the film.

Treasure Island hangars served as the stage location for the "bullet time" visual effect in The Matrix and as soundstages for the film adaptation of Rent directed by Chris Columbus.

For three years Treasure Island served as the site of Comedy Central's Battlebots television show. The offices and penthouse apartment sets in Nash Bridges were located on the island during the show's production (1996–2001). The island currently serves as base of operations for the prototypers in the Discovery Channel series Prototype This!marker.

One of the warehouses on Treasure Island now serves as a film setting for a new NBC series titled Trauma

Future development

Treasure Island as seen from Yerba Buena
In 2005, Lennar Corporation, one of the largest developers in the United States, proposed to build a self-sustaining city on Treasure Island. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the proposal has 5,500 units of housing in several lowrise buildings, restaurants and a ferry terminal facing San Francisco. The plan also contains several midrise towers, four 40-story towers and one 60-story tower called the Sun Tower (formerly Treasure Island Tower). It also has an organic farm, a wind farm, parkland and tidal marshes. The proposal is designed to be as car-independent as possible, with the ferry terminal and basic goods within a 10-minute walk of the residences. A toll of $5 has been proposed to deter non-residents from driving onto the island. This is a change from the original plan which was more car-dependent and had only one highrise tower. The Navy has signed two "Findings of Suitable Transfer" or FOST documents which allow development plans to continue.

The San Francisco Gaelic Athletic Association has recently leased land on the island to create athletic fields which will be used mainly for Gaelic football and hurling. The 3 fields will be home to future North American Championships as well as visits from Irish All-Star teams.

Hazards and risks

After the Naval Station closed in 1997, Treasure Island was opened to residential and other uses, but according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Toxic Substances Control, the groundwater and air are contaminated with asbestos, plutonium, radium and other substances which are known to cause cancer and other illnesses.

Another risk of living on Treasure Island is the high risk of liquefaction during an earthquake. All of Treasure Island is built on landfill, and few if any of the buildings on the island were built to withstand a major earthquake, much less an earthquake magnified by liquefaction.

The Cosco Busan oil spill of 2007 happened just a few hundred yards from Treasure Island. The majority of the pollution was carried by the bay currents to other shores; however, cleanup crews spent several weeks cleaning the coast of Treasure Island as well.


Image:Treasure_island_shore_north.JPG|Looking north towards the Marin Headlandsmarker from Treasure Island's western shore.Image:Treasure_island_shore_south.JPG|Looking south towards Yerba Buena Islandmarker and the Bay Bridge from Treasure Island's western shore.New span of the Bay Bridgemarker as seen from Treasure Island, January 2008.File:Administration Building, Treasure Island (San Francisco).jpg|Administration Building, Treasure Island

See also


  1. Ron Russell, "Toxic Acres", SF Weekly, May 24, 2006. Accessed 2007-07-27.

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