Between San Francisco and the East Bay, there is a small man-made island with panoramic skyline views in every direction.
Originally a US Naval Station, Treasure Island is now best known for epic music festivals, the cheapest housing with direct access to San Francisco (high rises in progress), 360 degree views and all of one grocery store that doesn’t sell booze. It’s a weird place.
Since weird places make for great photos, I was excited to hear that photography community EyeEm would be holding their bi-annual Global Adventure photo walk here, with a private tour hosted by the Treasure Island Museum Authority.
I’ve been to Treasure Island a number of times before for said music festivals, but was excited to take it in from a different angle and tap into a community photo walk for the first time with a handful of Bay Area creatives.
After a short intro walk, our guide Tara offered to share the private museum artifact collection with anyone interested, while the rest of the group would start on our map of designated island’s “hot spots.”
It was a beautiful, sunny, WARM (this is rare) day, and as I was led into the windowless museum basement I couldn’t help but thinking I made the wrong decision.
Then Tara pulled out these:
2015 is the Centennial Anniversary of the Panama-Pacific World’s Fair in San Francisco, so the city has been doing lots of celebrating (like lighting up the Palace of Fine Arts for the opening event), but what Tara pulled out were original tickets and pieces from the forgotten fair: 1939. Overshadowed by WWII, the 1939 World Fair never crossed my ears until that moment.
In an instant, a day planned for sunshine and skylines turned into a firsthand history lesson about Bay Area life during and post-WWII.
Tara pulled out original ration books, a heavy-hitting government issued guide: “Going Back to Civilian Life,” detailing day-to-day activities like how to grocery shop and applying for jobs, original US Navy War Photograph collections (including some rather graphic images), and glossy inked war newspaper headlines, among other things.
Even the comics reflected the times.
It’s incredible how quickly our paths can change, and how quickly the bubbly energy of the group of us there for a photo event changed to solemnity and reflection, looking over remnants of history in the museum basement of a former US Naval ground.
We thanked Tara for sharing those moments with us, and headed back to the sun on our original path.
The group was split up all over the island, but I caught on with a small crew just in time to discover a funky cargo crate yard and play around on an abandoned naval dorm house before meeting the rest of them back at the museum to reconvene for snacks in a VW pop-top camper and print out our favorite images from the day.
Many thanks to EyeEm for a day of adventures!
Anyone can book a viewing of the WWII and World Fair artifacts by contacting the Treasure Island Museum Authority.