San Francisco Locations: Fort Point

Fort Point, Long Ave & Marine Dr. San Francisco, CA 94129

Fort Point, Long Ave & Marine Dr. San Francisco, CA 94129

Fort Point is a tourist spot for most, but also a hidden gem in the city. If you haven’t been, I highly recommend it! It sits at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge and was built just after the Gold Rush between 1853 and 1861. With the bridge not being built for another 70+ years, the fort stood alone and was considered “the pride of the Pacific.”

The fort itself is the perfect backdrop of brick, arches, and one of the closest views of the Golden Gate Bridge.


In the late 1930s, plans for the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge also involved plans for the demolition of Fort Point. Fortunately, Chief Engineer Joseph Strauss recognized the architectural value of the Fort and created a special arch which allowed the construction of the bridge to occur safely over Fort Point. After World War II, the movement to preserve Fort Point for its historic and architectural value began to grow. Over the next 20 years, support for the preservation movement waxed and waned. In 1959, a group of retired military officers and civilian engineers created the Fort Point Museum Association and lobbied for its creation as a National Historic Site. On October 16, 1970, Fort Point became a National Historic Site.
— (

The Fort is four levels, with the top being the roof. Below that, each level is hallways of arched brick and metal hand rails. I love this location, but I am not going to lie… I am afraid of semi open spaces and this has a bit of that. It’s safe.. but also old! So I wouldn’t say that parts of it don’t make your heart jump a tad.


Some great tips for Fort Point:

  • Only open Friday-Sunday 10am-5pm (always double check their website)

  • It’s Free! Bring cash for a donation in their donation box, though, because it never hurts to give back.

  • Photographers are welcome, but mostly if you just have your camera and clients. No extra equipment or costumes. Park Rangers are subject to ask you to leave at any time if you are “in the way.”

  • It can be VERY windy. The center and roof are like a vortex. So let your clients know ahead of time.

  • My favorite lens to use their is my 24-70 because I can get amazing close ups, but also photograph them from across the courtyard.

  • There are heights involved here but it is very easy to be safe. This is something I tell clients because some are afraid of semi open spaces (psst… me!) and being mentally prepared helps!

  • My favorite time to photograph there is as close to golden hour sunset as possible. With the sun setting around 5 during the mid fall and early winter time, those are my favorite months to do sessions there. I have done morning sessions there, but the sun on the roof can be extremely intense. The fort doesn’t open until 10 am and at that point, the sun is right on your clients and bridge, and extremely harsh.

Even though the building is brick and metal (iron?), I still think it offers some variety and character to a family session. I highly recommend it!