What once served as the frontline defenses and the eyes and ears of the Coast Artillery Corps are slowly fading into historical oblivion. During World War II, San Francisco was the second most heavily defended harbor in the United States.
Remnants of many of these unique structures can be found at Lands End and the surrounding area. While many misconceptions abound about the purpose and scope of these unique structures built for the harbor defenses of San Francisco, a new book explains these sites in full historical detail.
Author Matthew W. Kent puts the misconceptions to rest and sets the record straight in his new book, “Harbor Defenses of San Francisco: Lands End, Point Lobos, Sutro Heights” (104 pages hardbound and in full color, $75), a first of its kind book exploring the smaller, lesser known coast defense military reservations located on San Francisco’s west side.
“Harbor Defenses of San Francisco” is a concise, full-color edition that covers all batteries, fire control observation/spotting stations, power houses and automatic weapon positions.
The book also contains complete historical information, including blueprints, period maps, up-to-date site maps made from satellite photographs, historic black and white photographs and full color photographs of every site. This book was specifically designed for fortification enthusiasts to use in the field when visiting these historic sites.
Kent was born and raised in San Francisco, and is a graduate of Abraham Lincoln High School (1991), and San Francisco State University (1997), where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in political science.
During his childhood in the early ‘80s, Kent, and his father, spent summer vacations exploring fortifications and their elements at Fort Winfield Scott and surrounding forts. All the while, Kent was taking color photographs of the sites he encountered with a Kodak X-15 Instamatic camera.
Beginning in 2007, Kent decided to share his love of fortifications and soon began work on writing a field guide highlighting the harbor defenses and its various elements built from 1890 to 1950. In 2011, he decided to completely update his original work with new material, as well as correct a number of errors and omissions found in the first edition.
In 2015, Kent undertook a new endeavor in an effort to document the relatively small and lesser-known coast defense military reservations of Northern Marin County. The fruit of this labor is his fourth book.
When not hiking around and enjoying views of the Marin Headlands and the San Francisco Peninsula, or hanging out playing wiffle ball, Kent enjoys spinning records as an occasional D.J., taking 35mm photographs, making Super 8mm movies, video production, creating 1/35 scale armor models and, above all, playing bocce ball. He is also a member of the Coast Defense Study Group.