When I came to San Diego in April 1993, I thought that all the good real estate had been taken by the military. Point Loma was a National Cemetery and various military installations that had been there since the early 1900s. Coronado Island? A Naval Air Station. The harbor front? 32nd Street Naval Station. Much of the Southern California coast? Camp Pendleton. The military was everywhere.
Then came the budget cuts of the mid- to late-1990s. Military bases throughout the nation were combined, closed, or realigned. The Air Force’s famous Top Gun squadron that had been based here for many years moved to Arizona. Naval Air Station Miramar became Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. And so on.
One of the military bases here that was closed was the former Naval Training Center (NTC) San Diego, located in a prime waterfront location in Point Loma. When it was announced in 1993 that the NTC would be closing, the City of San Diego created a 27-member commission to determine what to do with the site, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Corky McMillin Company was selected as the master developer and began work when the base closed in 1997.
Now known as Liberty Station, the site comprises 361 acres and includes several distinct districts, including a retail and commercial district, a promenade focused on nonprofit activities, an educational district, a residential district, a hotel district, an office district, and a park/open space area along the boat channel. Many of the individual structures are designated as historic by the city of San Diego. As such, they have been saved from the wrecking ball and were adapted for stores, offices, schools, and other purposes.
Phase Two of the renovation was completed in November 2012 and brought the total number of saved and adapted buildings to fifteen. The nonprofit NTC Foundation oversees the development of the historic and nonprofit area. According to sources, Liberty Station is the largest historical preservation project in San Diego. It also happens to be the city’s largest arts and culture project in terms of size and scope.
There is no way to discuss in words and pictures in one blog post all that Liberty Station has to offer so I’ll be breaking it down into several posts in the future. Today, I’d like to show you Gun Platform No. 1.
According to that plaque on the ground at the lower right in the above picture:
Gun Platform No, 1, 1945
San Diego Naval Training Center
The two larger mounts [near and far mounts with black tips] are 5-inch, 51-calibre [sic] which were found on older battleships. This gun was designed to engage surface craft, especially with torpedo boats, that were too fast to be tracked and destroyed by a battleship’s large main guns. The large wheels on either side controlled the guns horizontal and vertical direction. The weapon fired a 50-pound, 5-inch diameter shell, and was propelled by a powder charge inside a separate silk bag. It had a range of 8 miles and a speed of more than 3,100 feet per second.
The single weapon with the elaborate mounting [center gun in picture] is a 5-inch, 38-calibre [sic] dual purpose gun. This lighter gun offered handiness in engaging aircraft targets with the same range and hitting power of a surface mount. It was widely used on destroyers, carriers, and later cruiser and battleship designs. The weapon could throw its 55-pound shell nine miles when fired vertically with a velocity of 2,600 feet per second.
Placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of Interior.
For a related post on Liberty Station, see North Chapel at Liberty Station in San Diego.
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