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Fort Miley Batteries 4.29.13

Fort Miley Batteries 4.29.13

At the edge of the city where the forest hangs on cliffs above the sea, we discover an abandoned base. Concrete stairs and platforms covered in broken glass bottles and graffiti. The wind has brought so much dirt and foliage that trees and bushes are growing out of the concrete. The sound of a skateboard rolling across the cement then sliding along the ledge is directly above me. I wander under the platform’s ledge; inspecting the corridor. There are bars on the windows and doors made of steel, although deteriorating, still keep me out. I wonder if they were once made to keep people in? Are these prison cells from the time when San Francisco was a major military hub? The farther I walk into the dark stairwells, the more bottles and trash has accrued. What was once a military stronghold is now a place where kids go to drink, paint and skate. We climb up the only wooden flight of stairs and find another circular pit amongst the trees, behind it a concrete structure that is now someone’s home. In the doorway sleeping bags rest, in the rectangular cubbies on each side are other supplies: laundry detergent, boxes and a tarp.  We make a loop around the area, finding ourselves on a grass lawn overlooking the ocean. Across the lawn are picnic benches, a bbq grill and informative sign on Fort Miley. The city has transformed this portion of the battery into a public park. The circular cement pits that are now filled with growing weeds and tress were initially built to hold huge artillery weapons. The weapons are now gone, scrapped after the war. In fact, the site was never used at all. This beautiful land had the perfect military location, it overlooked where the ocean fed the bay. Other than the steel rings along the wall, steel doors and barred windows this place has very few indentifying marks. It is a fort tucked away in the trees along the cliffs. Once a training post and lookout to protect this city from invasion, it is now a refuge for the city’s youth and a sanctuary for wandering vagrants.

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