Angel Island: 4 Facts About That “Other Island” in the Bay

Every day our tours depart from Pier 39, and as we head out by Alcatraz and out under the Golden Gate Bridge, the question comes up…”What is that other island over there??”…and often, the guest is pointing to Angel Island. Well, we figured it’s time to shed some light on the larger, but often over-looked, big sister island in the San Francisco Bay.

Did you know?...

Spanish Founding

Ayala Cove, the main visitor cove on Angel Island, is named after Lt. Juan Manuel de Ayala, a Spanish naval officer, spent a month mapping out the bay from the island in 1775. He named the island for the Catholic feast day closest to his discovery, which was later shortened to Isla de Los Angeles, or Angel Island.

Ellis Island of the West

In 1905 the Angel Island Immigration Station was built, and Angel Island became known as the Ellis Island of the West. Between 1910 and 1940, the island welcomed a half million immigrants from eighty countries, including many people from China and Japan.

World War II

During World War II, Fort McDowell was used as a port of embarkation for more than 300,000 soldiers, and the old immigration barracks housed prisoners of war before they were sent to inland camps. Fort McDowell was closed in August 1946.

Mt. Livermore Gets a Boost

Mt. Livermore is the tallest point on the island. In the 1950s, dirt from Mount Livermore’s summit was removed—actually not fully removed, just pushed aside—to make way for a missile site. In 2002 the dirt was pushed (approximately) back into place and the summit was repaired—making Mount Livermore 788 feet tall, a full 16 feet taller than before!

Next time you book a Sunset Sail under the bridge, don’t overlook this amazing part of history patiently waiting on the other side of the Bay. 

Until next time!
AdCat Crew

Quick shoutout - Much of the detail information here was provided by our good friend, and author, Alex Kenin. Alex runs a great company Urban Hiker SF, and she wrote a book where you can learn even more about this great city, check it out here!

See you on your next trip with Adventure Cat Sailing in San Francisco!

Scroll to Top