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Step Into History at Pier 45 in San Francisco

By Alexa Chipman May 25, 2017

On a secluded pier, hidden from the bustle of Pier 39, is a colorful banner indicating “Historic Pier 45” arched across an entrance next to the Musee Mecanique. Behind its cheerful red and blue is a miniature World War II maritime museum, with the liberty ship SS Jeremiah O’Brien and submarine USS Pampanito (SS-383), both primarily independently operated and open for tours with a small fee.

USS Pampanito

USS Pampanito in San Francisco

Built for long-range patrols on the hunt for enemy shipping, Pampanito is a sleek, dangerous boat with the most advanced technology of her time on board—volunteers have scoured the world in an attempt to bring her as close to original specifications as possible, and their attention to detail shows. Forerunners of modern computing are on board—the cypher machine to send and receive encrypted messages, and the Torpedo Data Computer (TDC), which assisted with the complex calculations needed to determine range and firing angle between two constantly moving platforms. This “futuristic” technology was unique to United States submarines, allowing for more accurate firing from a safe distance, protecting crews from going in close where the mostly surface vessel was vulnerable. (more…)

Exclusion: The Presidio's Role in WWII Japanese American Incarceration

The Presidio and Executive Order 9066

By Alexa Chipman May 9, 2017

Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, which brought America into World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order that gave near carte blanche power to remove undesirable persons. It was Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt at the Presidio in San Francisco who translated his general command into the specific incarceration of 120,000 men, women and children of Japanese ancestry, who were forcibly relocated into camps, despite most of them being citizens. The overwhelming antagonistic sentiment drowned out protests, and began a dark chapter in American history.

Exclusion: The Presidio's Role in WWII Japanese American Incarceration

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Structured Elegance in Japanese Gardens

By Alexa Chipman Apr. 15, 2017

Rippling koi ponds filled with colorful fish, dramatic arched bridges, carefully tended shrubbery, pristine gravel gardens and bright blossoms come to mind with Japanese gardens. There is a sense of peace when strolling through the green paradise, mingling formal planning with the wild beauty of a natural forest.

I’ve spent hours sitting on a small bench nestled in a quiet corner, reading or gazing out at what comes close to perfection. Even when crowded and filled with screaming, exhausted children, somehow these gardens manage to overcome the cacophony to maintain their serenity and bestow it on visitors. (more…)