Batteries, Today

There was a time when Americans seriously prepared for a Japanese invasion of the West Coast. We can look back at that time with a sort of ironic amusement, I guess, but the truth is our war planners weren’t being completely paranoid; as we discovered many years after the Second World War, Japan did have plans for military action against California and did, in fact attack American Alaska.

So, starting in the late 1930s, the War Department constructed a series of artillery bases on the coast, several clustered around the Golden Gate: Battery Townsley, Battery Chamberlin, Battery Davis, and so on.

Here’s Battery Chamberlin, above what is now Baker Beach.

Battery Davis, during its working life:

And Battery Davis as it looks today:

Long since decommissioned and allowed to fall into disrepair, the artillery batteries that ring the entrance to the Golden Gate are now just crumbling curiosities. People mostly visit Fort Funston, the location of Battery Davis, to walk their dogs off-leash in a beautiful, open natural setting. Most visitors have no idea what these decrepit tunnels were originally constructed for, nor the enormous (but now welded-shut) underground vaults near them.

Probably just as well. These are now places to walk with best friends, smell the ocean (or occasional beach bonfire), appreciate the views, get some fresh air and quiet away from the city’s tumult, not to watch and wait for invasions. Thank God.

I hope you get some peaceful time with your best friend soon.

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