The U.S. Navy began building the 1,734-acre base on Alameda Island in the late 1930s, and for more than fifty years it was a repair and maintenance facility for Navy aircraft, including carrier-based planes and helicopters. It was closed in 1997 and is now in the lengthy transition stage from a military base to a civilian extension of the city of Alameda. Several military ships still dock at the station, mostly part of the MARAD reserve fleet, and one aircraft carrier is now a museum. Large naval seaplanes were stationed here, and their ramps and hangars remain. As with other recently closed military sites in the Bay Area, among the first major users of the hangars and closed runways is the film industry, which often occupies these between places with abundant space and few restrictions on use. The locally produced MythBusters TV show regularly uses the asphalt expanses for field tests. Remains of a milelong highway set built for one of the Matrix movies remains visible. Otherwise more than a full square mile of abandoned runways and munitions bunkers, with views across the Bay to San Francisco, are fenced off from public use, enjoyed by nesting birds, while lingering ground contamination is slowly being addressed.
Alameda Naval Air Station Site