Treasure Island Seawall, Landscaping, and Fill – San Francisco CA


Funds for a seawall and fill for the exposition site were provided through a $3,043,000 WPA grant.

Another WPA grant of $1,296,000 provided for roadways, a causeway, trestles, landscaping, and drainage of water systems.

A PWA grant of $1,711,000, matched in part by local funds, provided for paving, ferry slips and some buildings.

Private funding for the exhibition were raised through private subscriptions, through the sale of bonds.

A 1940 WPA publication describes the construction of Treasure Island as follows:

“Dedicated November 21, 1937, Yerba Buena Shoals, more popularly known as Treasure Island, was raised from beneath the waters of the bay through the handling of 30,000,000 cubic yards of material. Roughly, the fill is two-thirds of a mile wide and a quarter long.

Cost of the project exceeded $4,000,000, of which the WPA contribute 3,347,000 in Federal funds and the sponsors the balance.

Work of building this man-made island was begun by the United States Army Engineering Corps on February 7, 1936, when the seagoing hopper dredge Mackenzie dumped its first load of material on the exposition site, and ended September 4, 1937 – one day ahead of schedule…

The WPA also gave financial aid for the installation of the island’s water supply system, for its landscaping and horticultural work, for the building of its roads and approaches. Further, Works Projects Administration employees played a part in the designing of many of its exhibit palaces.”
– Lawson, 94

From the photo below:
“(Up from A Worthless Shoals) The ‘Worthless’ shoals of Yerba Buena are shown here being transformed into the site of the $50,000,000 1939 World’s Fair on San Francisco Bay. The island was built by a $3,803,900 WPA appropriation. The ferry slips are in the foreground. Golden Gate International Exposition.”

Source notes

The Architect and Engineer. January 1936.

William R. Lawson. Achievements, Federal Works Agency. Work Projects Administration, Northern California; 1940: 94-104.

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Location Info

Avenue of the Palms
San Francisco, CA 94130

Location notes: Treasure Island
A WPA allocation of several million dollars funded the reclamation of the exposition site at Yerba Buena Shoal. A PWA program included construction of an administration building, ferry slips, two airplane hangars, an airport terminal building, a ferry terminal, five large exhibition buildings and paving of the site. 45% of the approximately 4 million dollars to accomplish this program came from the PWA, and the Exposition Company contributed 55%. (The Architect and Engineer. May 1936.) More Treasure Island Archive Photos available at

Coordinates: 37.821400, -122.375000

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