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The Sculptures and the Island

The sculptures, and Building One itself, provide a key to the transformations of Treasure Island during its seven decades of existence. Building One, in its curving, tiered Moderne splendor, has served as the Administration Building for a world’s fair, the terminal for an airport, office space for Naval personnel, and now as administrative headquarters for the Treasure Island Development Authority.

The sculptures have similarly undergone transformations. During the years of the Golden Gate International Exposition, or GGIE (1939-1940), the original twenty Pacific Unity Sculptures were grouped around the Fountain of Western Waters in the Court of Pacifica.

The fair ended in 1940. The Navy moved onto the island almost immediately, as American involvement in World War II began to look inevitable. Naval Station Treasure Island became a primary training and receiving station for the Pacific Theater during World War II.

Sometime in the 1940s, the Fountain of Western Waters was removed from the Court of Pacifica and probably destroyed. The Navy replaced it with the colorful ceramic Pacific Basin Fountain, originally from a world’s fair building called “Pacific House.” The Pacific Basin Fountain and the Pacific Unity Sculptures remained in this location until the 1990s.

In 1994, the six sculptures you see today were moved to the front of Building One and restored, funded by the Treasure Island Museum Association. The Pacific Basin Fountain was cut down into its component pieces and placed in storage along with the remaining ten sculptures. Plans to restore and display all of the sculptures and the Pacific Basin Fountain were interrupted by the closure of Naval Station Treasure Island in 1997, but have been revived as part of the Treasure Island Arts Master Plan.

Building One and the Pacific Unity Sculptures remind us of the depth and richness of Treasure Island’s history. For nearly seventy years, Treasure Island has celebrated and served the cultures and environment of the Pacific region. Through its varied uses as airport, world’s fair site, and Naval Station, the island itself has had a theme: Pacific Unity.

Online statues content designed by Urso Chappell

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