search   index   by subject   by year   biographies   books  SF Activities  shop museum   contact

San Francisco has had at least three airports within the city limits during the twentieth century. Crissy Field at the Presidio dates from World War I, the Marina Flying Field from 1915, and the late 1930s saw development of the Seaplane Harbor at Treasure Island. Ingleside racetrack was also used for aviation purposes in the early part of the twentieth century.

Commercial and general aviation ultimately moved to Mills Field in San Mateo County in the 1930s, which was followed by construction of San Francisco International Airport.

Crissy Field at the Presidio was the last airport within the city, and ended limited operations in the 1980s.

Marina Flying Field

The failure of the City and County of San Francisco to continue the appropriations necessary to pay the rentals of the large land-holdings of the Vanderbilt, Oelrichs and Law interests is given as the reason for the possible loss of the aerial mail service to San Francisco.

This service was established only after a hard-fought battle to bring the same to San Francisco.

The cities of the north and the south battled valiantly to procure this transcontinental service for themselves, but the general preponderance of business in the palm of San Francisco carried off the victory!

East bay San Francisco, sometimes known as Oakland, etc., also labored to secure this plum, offering as landing places, Durant Field, southeast of the city, and as an alternative, proposed use of "Government" Island, so called because the government was inveigled into purchasing this marshy spot in Oakland creek by some Oakland realty sharks, who were enabled through the opportunity presented by the [first world] war to unload this worthless strip at a value of about $10.00 on the cent.

Of all the blandishments thus offered, the Marina flying field carried the day, by reason of its superior position and offering the safest opportunities for starting and landing anywhere around the bay, with the possible exception of Redwod City, whose field proved to far away from the center of population.

The Marina is located at a spot where landings are made safely at any time during day-light hours; — its air-currents are well known, and easily determined from the ground and for over ninety percent of the time approach from the same direction — the west.

The large open space of the bay to the north is a great factor providing safety, and the site is less obscured by fogs; strange as this statement may seem to San Franciscans, than the east bay sites, or any other location that has been mentioned within the confines of the city. The site is within ten minutes, in point of time, to the principal business centers of San Francisco — a distinction which is also unique.

The Marina site however, will shortly be abandoned, and the mail planes have found a temporary landing place on Cressey [Crissy] Field in the Presidio, but other arrangements must be made at very short notice to provide a better and larger landing place than this field, or else the mail service may be forced to go elsewhere.

Our suggestion, based upon a careful study of the situation, and after consulting with a number of flyers, is to prepare the six blocks recently turned over by the Panama Pacific International Exposition Company, as a gift to the state of California and to the City and County of San Francisco, for this purpose. This entire plot of land is approximately one-half mile in length and five hundred feet in width. It is located immediately north of, instead of south of the Marina, where the present landing field is located; — it offers the same advantages and in fact some of the flyers prefer it.

It will be remembered that during the entire period of the Exposition, two hundred and sixty-six days in all, this field was used a number of times daily for exhibition flights, and all San Franciscans, and thousands upon thousands of exposition visitors, will remember the stunts which were at that time considered most marvelous. Flights were made by day and by night, and there never was the slightest accident which could, in even the remotest degree, be attributed to the landing field; -- during the whole exposition period not a single scheduled flight was missed by reason of weather conditions -- it approached perfection closer than any known field in the entire United States.

This field being now in public ownership, can be converted to use for possibly five thousand dollars. It is a logical location for San Francisco, and being at the northern edge of the city is less apt to interfere with, or be interfered with, by the growth of the city.

Civic League of Improvement Clubs and Associations
February 1922

Return to top of page