Point Isabel (promontory)

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Point Isabel is a small promontory on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay in the Richmond Annex neighborhood of Richmond, USA. [1] It can be reached at the west terminus of Central Ave. from Richmond / El Cerrito.



Point Isabel is a hilltop in the ancient range of hills that also includes Albany Hill, Brooks Island, and the Potrero San Pablo. Rising sea levels following the last Ice Age formed San Francisco Bay and left the point as a rocky promontory joined to the mainland by a salt marsh that flooded at high tides. A large shell midden showed that Native Americans used the site. In the 19th Century, Pt. Isabel it was part of the Rancho San Pablo owned by Don Victór Castro whose father received it in a land grant from the Mexican Republic. [2] Victor Castro named the point for his daughter Isabel. He used it as a landing for boats shipping grain and other articles across the Bay. In later years, the land was acquired by the Du Pont subsidiary Vigoret Powder Works of San Francisco, which used it primarily to store explosives. [2] A wharf and railroad spur served the Vigoret site. [2]

The original hilltop, significantly higher than the present elevation, was dynamited for development in the 1950s. The rubble was used to fill marshlands, widening the point and connecting it to the mainland. A dump for industrial waste filled tidelands north of the original point, separated from it by a tidal channel draining Hoffmann Marsh. This area became known as "Battery Point" because of the large number of batteries buried there. Industrial uses from pesticide manufacturing to waste oil recycling, as well as a pistol range, left the land north and east of Point Isabel among the most polluted brownfield sites along San Francisco Bay, although some of these have been remediated. Dumping also changed the south shore; for example, the area known as "Tepco Beach" is covered with pastel fragments of china from an El Cerrito manufacturer. In recent years, part of the original point, Hoffman Marsh to the east, and later Battery Point were acquired by the East Bay Regional Parks District for its Point Isabel Regional Shoreline, and also by the State of California for its Eastshore State Park.

Current overview

The peninsula features Point Isabel Regional Shoreline, a multiuse park that is one of the largest off-leash parks in the U.S. and boasts one of the best windsurfer launching areas in the East Bay. Point Isabel was created as mitigation by USPS when it built its nine-story bulk mail center on the shoreline in the mid-1970s, The south shore, restored by the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) as mitigation for freeway expansion, is part of Eastshore State Park. As part of this restoration, CalTrans built the bird-refuge shell islands visible in the ecologically important Albany Mud Flats between Point Isabel and the Albany Bulb. East Bay Regional Municipal Utility District has a wet-weather sewage-treatment plant on the west end of the peninsula, but as of 2010 it is under state orders to close. A large Costco wholesale retail big-box store, the United States Postal Service Bulk Mail Center for San Francisco , and other businesses and stores are other occupants. KNEW (AM) transmits from towers at Point Isabel's western edge. [3]


A 2008 proposal to add a 98,000 sq. ft. (9,100 m2) Kohl's department store on a site between the Costco Store and the Hoffman Marsh proved controversial. [4] Many residents are worried about potential negative effects on increased nighttime lighting that will make endangered birds more susceptible to predators and increased traffic along Central Avenue. [4] The Richmond Annex Neighborhood Council has officially opposed the project. [4] If built it would add 138 mostly part-time jobs and $250,000 to 350,000 dollars in annual revenues for the city of Richmond. [4] The project would also add a 4–5,000 sq. ft. (372–465 m2) commercial space for a restaurant or second retailer detached from the Kohl's; however some residents believe it should be adjacent to the 2-story Kohl's building to minimize visual impact. [4]

See also


  1. Topographic map, TopoQuest, retrieved July 5, 2008
  2. 1 2 3 Point Isabel Archived 2007-08-19 at the Wayback Machine , El Cerrito Historical Society, retrieved August 1, 2007
  3. USGS, Information System, access date August 10, 2008
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 New Kohl's store proposed for Richmond, by Katherine Tam, Contra Costa Times, May 30, 2008, access date August 8, 2008

Coordinates: 37°53′49″N122°19′26″W / 37.897°N 122.324°W / 37.897; -122.324

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