Before and after photos show what San Francisco's Treasure Island will look like once its $6 billion redevelopment is complete
Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images
A view of Treasure Island from the north. San Francisco is to the west of it, or to the right of this photo.
- Treasure Island is a landmass that sits in the bay between San Francisco and Oakland.
- It's been used as the site of a World's Fair, a US Navy base, and has been home for the formerly homeless and those in need of supportive housing.
- Now, a long-anticipated $6 billion redevelopment is shaking up the island, with 8,000 new homes in the works.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Nestled in the Bay just east of San Francisco is an island that, if you're not aware of it, might be overlooked.
Treasure Island is a man-made landmass that was built in 1936 and named after a novel of the same name written by Robert Louis Stevenson, a writer who lived in San Francisco from 1879 to 1880. It has served as the site of the 1939 World's Fair for which it was built, as a military base for the US Navy, and since the 1990s, home to the formerly homeless and others in need of supportive housing. And despite its whimsical name, it has a bit of a past.
It was used for nuclear-training operations in its Navy days, a practice that resulted in toxic substances seeping into the landfilled island's ground and contaminants being dumped into large garbage pits burrowed into the soil. The Navy conducted a large-scale cleanup on the island, attempting to rid the land of any remaining pollutants, but the risk of radiation lingers, and the accuracy of the Navy's cleanup has been debated.
The island's contamination has been widely reported on, especially as residents over the years have come forward claiming health conditions, like cancer, hair loss, and tumors, that they believe arose due to exposure to the island's toxic materials. They believe so strongly that the island poses a health risk that current and former residents filed a joint lawsuit seeking $2 billion in damages on January 23.
And besides the financial compensation, the lawsuit also stipulates that a long-anticipated $6 billion redevelopment of the island - which would add 8,000 new homes to the city's crowded housing market as well as a hotel, a new ferry terminal, and upscale retailers - be stopped until an independent report can prove that radiation is no longer lurking beneath the island's surface.
For the time being, however, the development will continue. It's in its early stages, with preliminary digging mostly being conducted on-site. "It's ugly out there," Mike Bartell, one of the island's residents that we visited in 2019, told Business Insider. "It looks like a war zone."
But there are renderings of what the final island project will look like. Take a look.
The Bay Bridge runs parallel to Treasure Island, and through its neighboring island of Yerba Buena, ferrying passengers from Oakland to San Francisco and vice versa.
From San Francisco, Treasure Island looks calm, serene, and removed from the hustle and bustle of the city.
But if the redevelopment goes according to plan, this is how it will look once it's all said and done.
The population is expected to swell to 20,000 by 2032, up from its approximate current count of 2,000.
That's a lot less than the nearly 20 million people that visited San Francisco for the World's Fair in 1939 that was hosted on the island.
Sweeping open parks, community gardens, a retail sector, a hotel, a new ferry terminal, and the 8,000 new homes housing residents — current and new — will also occupy the island.
If the redevelopment plan pans out, the island's new skyline will sit across the bay from San Francisco's.
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