Yerba Buena Island
- For other places also called Seabird Island, see Seabird Island
|Yerba Buena Island|
|— Neighborhood of San Francisco —|
Yerba Buena Island sits in the San Francisco Bay between San Francisco and Oakland, California. The Yerba Buena Tunnel runs through its center and connects the western and eastern spans of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. It has had several other names over the decades: Sea Bird Island, Wood Island, and Goat Island. The island is named after the town of Yerba Buena, which was named for the plant of the same name that was abundant in the area. The plant's English and Spanish common name, Yerba buena, is an alternate form of the Spanish hierba buena (literally meaning "good herb"), generally used to describe local species of the mint family.
The island is currently part of District 6 of the City and County of San Francisco. 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 2,500 as of the 2010 census.
Today the land southeast of the Yerba Buena Tunnel belongs to the United States Coast Guard (USCG) District Eleven. The US Coast Guard Sector San Francisco - Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) tower is located on Signal Road Bldg. 278 atop the peak of the island. The US Coast Guard Sector San Francisco Headquarters is co-located with US Coast Guard Station San Francisco on Healy Avenue at water-level on the southeast coast of the island. The USCG Station has a navigational buoy repair facility on Fresnel Way. The USCG Senior Officers' residences are in Quarters A, B and C off of Hillcrest Road on the hill atop the USCG base. During the summer of 2011, the Department of Homeland Security United States Coast Guard opened the new Interagency Operations Center (IOC at Bldg. 100 site on Spindrift Circle) on the US Coast Guard Sector / Station San Francisco base. The IOC houses the VTS and the US Coast Guard Sector San Francisco Command Center together in one building.
The first California legislature on February 18, 1850, passed an act establishing the boundaries of San Francisco County and naming the island after the former name of the city of San Francisco, Yerba Buena, which was changed in 1847.
Officially, the island was Yerba Buena Island until 1895, when on a decision by the United States Board on Geographic Names, it was changed to Goat Island. During the gold rush, a large number of goats were pastured on the island, and the name "Goat Island" came into popular use. It was changed back to Yerba Buena Island on June 3, 1931.
The idea of a military post on Yerba Buena Island originated during the Civil War, when it was feared a raiding Confederate warship could slip past Fort Point and Alcatraz during a foggy night. However, it was not until the 1870s that an Army Post Camp Yerba Buena Island aka Camp Decature) by Navy Road and North Gate Road was completed, including a fog signal and octagonal lighthouse called Yerba Buena Light (1875) that remain today at the end of Hillcrest Road. In 1891, the United States Army Engineers (Currently known as the United States Army Corps of Engineers) built a Torpedo Station / Shed / Storehouse / Assembly building (Building 262) at the end of Army Road by North Gate Road. The torpedoes were actually floating mines that could be placed in the bay via cable for defense against intruding enemy vessels. The Torpedo Station was abandoned in the 1930s but still stands today listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Just before the turn of the 19th to 20th century, the first U.S. Naval Training Station on the Pacific Coast was established on the north east side of the island by 1st Street and North Gate Road. Quarters One, also known as the Nimitz House, was built about 1900 as the Naval Training Station commandant's residence. Its Classic Revival style, fashionable for private residences in the Bay Area at the time, was unusual for naval base housing. The training station closed after World War I. Although the training station closed the Navy maintained presence with the stationary receiving ship USS Boston (1884) anchored in harbor through World War II.
During World War II, Yerba Buena Island fell under the jurisdiction of Treasure Island Naval Station, main headquarters of the 12th Naval District inside Building One. Built on the shoals of Yerba Buena Island, the 403-acre (163 ha) Treasure Island was a Works Progress Administration project in the 1930s. After hosting the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition, the United States Navy deemed Treasure Island an ideal location for transporting people and machines to the Pacific theater, and on April 17, 1942, established Treasure Island Naval Station (for surface ships and submarines) and as an Auxiliary Air Facility airfield (for airships, blimps, dirigibles, planes and seaplanes) which also included a portion of Yerba Buena Island. Quarters One became the residence of the Commander in Chief, US Pacific Fleet (CINPACFLT). Several other buildings used by the Naval Station during World War II also remain on the island, including the Senior Officers' Quarters in Quarters 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. Buildings 83, 205 and 230 were support facilities to the senior officers' quarters.
In 1996, the naval base and the Presidio of San Francisco were decommissioned, and opened to public control, under stipulations. Quarters One by Whiting Way and the other Senior Officers' Quarters by Garden Way are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Atop YBI on Signal Road stands an old wooden tower, built c. 1917 as a Signal Tower for ships in the bay. Originally the tower had no roof. In the 1940s, the tower was jacked up onto a new cement foundation and used by the US Navy as a control tower for seaplanes landing on the Port of Trade Winds Harbor / Clipper Cove. Most recently the tower was used by the US Navy as an Officers' Club (a bar) for aviators — The Tower Club. The Tower Club (Bldg. 229) was condemned after the October 17, 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. It has stood in ruins since then. The view from the top of the tower is one of the best in the San Francisco Bay, but unfortunately it's closed to the public. The tower's destiny is unclear; it's not a registered historical landmark, so it's subject to being destroyed as YBI is redeveloped for commercial use.
Located west of the island is Blossom Rock, a treacherous submerged rock that lay only 5 feet below the surface of the water at low tide. Blossom Rock was discovered and named in 1826 by Captain Beechey of the HMS Blossom. Beechey noted that the rock could be avoided by aligning the northern tip of Yerba Buena Island with two especially large redwood trees growing in the East Bay hills as one entered the Bay. These redwoods were located in what is now Roberts Regional Recreation Area, near the "Madrone" picnic area; the area is marked with a historical marker. The "Navigation Trees" were logged in about 1851, exacerbating the danger of Blossom Rock. The top of the rock was blown up in 1870, and another section removed by blasting in the early 1930s. There are three parks located on Yerba Buena Island. Hill Park near Treasure Island Road and Macalla Road which used to be a military cemetery until the high visibility traffic approach to the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition necessitated its removal and transfer of graves to the San Francisco National Cemetery in the Presidio of San Francisco. With Blue Park and Tower Park atop YBI by Yerba Buena Drive.
See also 
- Saperstein, Susan. "Goats on Goat Island in San Francisco". San Francisco City Guides. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
- "Quarters One, Yerba Buena Island, Naval Training Station". World War II in the San Francisco Bay Area. National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-03-22.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Yerba Buena Island|
- Treasure Hunting on Yerba Buena Island: San Francisco's newest neighborhood to be landscaped with locally appropriate native plants.
- "Naval Training Station: San Francisco Bay, Calif., Yerba Buena Island". Retrieved July 12, 2005.