The mural inside the Treasure Island administration building offers a snapshot of California history, depicting military action in the Pacific since the early 1800s.
Clipper ships. Helicopters. Handsome 1970s Navy Seals.
It has everything.
My favorite part, however, deals with the future.
The mural was designed and painted in 1975, back when Treasure Island was a working Navy base. The mural parts for that era swarm with helicopters, airplanes, parachutes, space pods, you name it. The base must have been amazingly busy at the time.
I can’t help but think the “future” parts of the mural — the artistic vision for Treasure Island’s future — are quite possibly predicting what they thought would be happening by now, nearly 40 years later: undersea stations, parachute … planes? (I don’t know what that thing is), interstellar worm creatures (top right corner; or is that a spaceship pod returning to Earth?). They nailed the rocket ship/plane, I think, as it seems to resemble stealth fighters or an SR-71. Then again, the Blackbirds were around by then anyway, so it’s not quite a stretch.Still, I want an undersea base!
I can imagine the designer, Lowell Nesbitt, coming back from the dead and seeing the vast swaths of vacant lots and rusty, abandoned buildings — Treasure Island closed as a military base long, long ago — and thinking, “That’s it? No undersea stations? My bad.”
Probably the coolest part of all this for me, at least, was finally finding out how Treasure Island got its name. It looks nothing like those old-timey pirate islands you would imagine would have treasure somewhere. It’s flat, man-made, built from mud and Bay gunk heaped on and leveled off. Apparently much of that mud came from somewhere east in former Gold Rush territory, shipped in by way of the Sacramento River, so the builders liked to imagine the mud carried untapped gold veins and hidden nuggets of treasure.