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From Gun Batteries to Pups and Hang Gliding

Welcome to Curbed's ongoing series titled Hidden History, where Curbed highlights a Bay Area location with a secret past. Maybe it's no longer there, maybe it's been converted into something else, but each spot holds a place in Bay Area history - even if not many people know it. Have a suggestion or know a place with a secret history? The tipline's always open or you can leave a comment after the jump.

Fort Funston, 1961 [Photo: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY]

If you have a dog, or are into hang gliding, chances are you've visited Fort Funston on the far south west corner of the city at the border of Daly City. Now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the site was once used to house Nike missiles.

Fort Funston is named after Major General Frederick Funston, who earned famed during the Philippine Insurrection and local hero status after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire when he led the army into the city to help fight fires and provide aid to the survivors. The land was originally purchased for Lake Merced Military Reservation in 1900 with plans of building two Endicott era batteries (think of the old open-topped concrete walls with big guns, protected by the sloped hills). They were never constructed, until 1917 when two batteries were built during World War I with guns and mortars from Fort Scott and 150 acres were added to fort site. After WWI, 16 inch casemated Battery Davis was constructed in 1936.

Baby on gun at Fort Funston, 1947 [Photo: NPS]

During World War II, a bunch of Anti-Aircraft guns were installed throughout the site. But by the Cold War, Fort Funston held parts of the Nike Missile system (which is now the site of the parking lot) until it was inactivated in 1963. The site was eventually transferred to City and County of San Francisco, who in turn gave it to the National Park Service with provisions that they would keep it as an "open space necessary to urban environment and planning." Now it's the only park in the GGNRA that allows off-leash dogs, and the steady winds make the cliffs a prime spot for hang gliding.

· Fort Funston [NPS]
· Fort Funston [Fort Wiki]
· Fort Funston: Former SF Military Installation Now A Recreational Haven [California Beat]
· Fort Funston: Battery Richmond P. Davis [Military Museum]

Fort Funston

500 Skyline Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94132