Port of Redwood City

Last updated
Port of Redwood City
Redwood City port aerial view.jpg
Aerial view of the Port of Redwood City
Location Redwood City, California
Coordinates 37°30′48″N122°12′31″W / 37.5132701°N 122.2085765°W / 37.5132701; -122.2085765 [1] Coordinates: 37°30′48″N122°12′31″W / 37.5132701°N 122.2085765°W / 37.5132701; -122.2085765 [1]
Opened1850;171 years ago (1850)
Operated byPort Commission
Type of harborNatural
Size of harbor~120 acres (49 ha)
Available berths190
Wharfs5 [2]
ChairmanRichard Claire
Draft depth 30 feet (9.1 m) [3]
Annual cargo tonnage1,552,814 metric tons (1,528,290 long tons; 1,711,684 short tons) [4]
Annual revenue US$6,780,000 [5]
www.redwoodcityport.com OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg
Port of Redwood City, 1878 Port litho.jpeg
Port of Redwood City, 1878

The Port of Redwood City is a marine freight terminal on the western side of the southern San Francisco Bay, on the West Coast of the United States. This marine terminal is situated within the city of Redwood City, California. [1] The port was developed from a natural deepwater channel discovered in the year 1850, at the mouth of Redwood Creek. From the early use as a log float port, commercial use expanded to a variety of industrial commodities; moreover, it is considered the birthplace of shipbuilding on the North American west coast. As of 2004 the annual freight shipments have reached about two million metric tons. The Port of Redwood City provides berths for dry bulk, liquid bulk, and project cargoes, along with certain recreational opportunities and public access to San Francisco Bay. [6]


The Port of Redwood City is the only deepwater port in the South San Francisco Bay. Significant expanses of bay mud are present nearby: in Redwood Creek, Westpoint Slough and especially at the mouth of Redwood Creek, where bay muds extend almost two kilometers into San Francisco Bay. In fact, the Port of Redwood City is the only major California port with significant expanses of natural habitat area in its immediate proximity.


Robert O. Tripp (founder of the historic Woodside Store) and Mathias A. Parkhurst began the first lumber operation using the waterways of Redwood Creek to float coast redwoods from Woodside to San Francisco in 1850. These two men thus became the founders of Redwood City itself. The Port of Redwood City is considered the place of genesis for the shipbuilding industry on the Pacific West Coast. The first schooner was built here in 1851 by G.M. Burnham and appropriately named Redwood. Shipbuilding thrived here until the 1880s. The last wooden ship built in Redwood City, called the Perseverance, was launched in 1883. The shipbuilding industry experienced a revival in the 1918s with the building of the first concrete ship in America, the SS Faith . [7]

The Port was called El Embarcadero up until at least the 1880s; [8] the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredged of a 7-foot-deep (2.1 m) channel between 1886 and 1889, to yield a channel 50 feet (15 m) wide. In 1903, the Corps increased the channel width to 100 feet (30 m) and by 1911, they broadened it to 150 feet (46 m). In 1931, local and federal interests combined to deepen the channel to 20 feet (6.1 m) and widen it to 200 feet (61 m), for a lineal distance of 13,360 feet (4,070 m).

Local businessmen and civic leaders formed the Redwood City Harbor Company in the year 1912, establishing the name of the Port for the era of the early 20th century. [9] In this period competition from the railroad limited growth of the port. A number of industrial companies, however, saw the value of the Port's location, including the Alaska Codfish Company and the Morgan Oyster Company. In particular the Pacific-Portland Cement Company, moving to the Port in 1924, substantially increased shipping activity. Industrial tenants of the port include Cemex, a cement plant, [10] and Sims Metal Management, a metal recycler. [11] The port area has also grown with non-industrial businesses: Spinnaker Sailing, Agiloft, Workboard and others within the Portside Business Park.

In 1966 a napalm manufacturing plant was opened by United Aircraft despite attempts by students and locals to block the opening. [12] [13]

Geology and hydrology

The Port of Redwood City is situated on the east banks of Redwood Creek approximately one kilometer upchannel from the mouth of Redwood Creek. [14] Extensive areas of marshland and bay muds are found in the vicinity of the Port. Westpoint Slough joins Redwood Creek from the southeast about 600 meters north of the Port of Redwood City. Deepwater Slough is a U-shaped channel whose two ends join Redwood Creek both north and south of the Port, with both joins on the opposite site of Redwood Creek. Approximately one kilometer north of the Port of Redwood City, Corkscrew Slough enters Redwood Creek from the northwest. From that confluence northward the northwest bank of Redwood Creek (now at the mouth) consists of Bair Island, an expansive area of saltwater marsh and salt evaporation ponds.

Typical high tides at the Port range from 7.0 to 8.4 feet (2.6 m), based upon February, 2007 tide chart data. Low tide typically varies from −0.8 to 2.9 feet (0.88 m).

Water temperatures measured along the slough of Redwood Creek at NOAA Station RTYC1 typically run to the low 70s F by mid and late summer, which can be as much as 10 degrees warmer than water temperatures in the northern and central sections of San Francisco Bay.


Climates within the San Francisco Bay Area have superficial similarities, but certain features have pronounced differences. For this reason a detailed microclimate study was conducted at the Port of Redwood City, with the specific goal of comparing meteorological parameters to nearby locations. [15] Temperatures, for example, were found to conform closely to those of San Francisco International Airport and Palo Alto Airport; in contrast, wind speeds at the Port were found to be approximately half the levels of San Francisco Airport. This result is not surprising since Conomos observed that the wind speeds in Northern San Mateo County are high due to the San Bruno Gap in the Santa Cruz Mountains. [16]

Recreational use

The Port of Redwood City has more than one lineal mile of public access along Redwood Creek, including walkways, viewing areas and picnic areas. The Port provides a venue for a number of public events and festivals, including visits by historic ships and sailing vessels. Some of the specific activities include a decorated boat parade, crew races, Hawaiian outrigger canoe races, fireworks [17] and sailing regattas. [18]

The 190-berth Redwood City Marina is operated within the Port of Redwood City. This facility accommodates vessels up to 50 feet (15 m) in length and has 10 feet (3.0 m) of draft at low tide. The Port provides electricity and water service to the permanent and overnight boats; restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities are also available for marina users.

The port operates a 24/7 public boat ramp. In addition several private yacht clubs use the port including the Sequoia Yacht Club and the Peninsula Yacht Club. Several Sea Scout ships and one Mariner Scout (Girl Scout) ship also use the facility. [19] [20] Stanford University has its Stanford Rowing & Sailing Center at the port. [21]

Role in emergency water transit

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his 2007 state of the State of California address, unveiled a plan for emergency water transit for the San Francisco Bay Region. The plan provides for a key role for the Port of Redwood City which "is strategically located between two bridges — the Dumbarton Bridge and the San Mateo Bridge. A Redwood City ferry terminal would be a crucial link, and also serve about 1400 regular passengers a day". [22] The plan, inspired by New York City's harbor service following 9/11, would feature 88 new vessels and multiple portable piers that could be deployed to respond to an emergency. The Port of Redwood City, whose director has endorsed the plan, would play a key role as a permanent marine terminal installation for the proposed system. The entity to conduct this $1.6 billion project is named the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority. Ferry service is still under plans for the port while independent operators are scheduled to start services in 2017. [23]

See also

Related Research Articles

Port of Oakland Container ship facility in Oakland, California

The Port of Oakland is a major container ship facility located in Oakland, California, in the San Francisco Bay. It was the first major port on the Pacific Coast of the United States to build terminals for container ships. It is now the fifth busiest container port in the United States, behind Long Beach, Los Angeles, Newark, and Savannah. Development of an intermodal container handling system in 2002 culminated over a decade of planning and construction to produce a high volume cargo facility that positions the Port of Oakland for further expansion of the West Coast freight market share.

<i>C.A. Thayer</i> (1895)

C.A. Thayer is a schooner built in 1895 near Eureka, California. The schooner is now preserved at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park. She is one of the last survivors of the sailing schooners in the West coast lumber trade to San Francisco from Washington, Oregon, and Northern California. She was designated a National Historic Landmark on 13 November 1966.

Humboldt Bay Bay on the North Coast of California

Humboldt Bay is a natural bay and a multi-basin, bar-built coastal lagoon located on the rugged North Coast of California, entirely within Humboldt County, United States. It is the largest protected body of water on the West Coast between San Francisco Bay and Puget Sound, the second-largest enclosed bay in California, and the largest port between San Francisco and Coos Bay, Oregon. The largest city adjoining the bay is Eureka, the regional center and county seat of Humboldt County, followed by the city of Arcata. These primary cities, together with adjoining unincorporated communities and several small towns, comprise a Humboldt Bay Area total population of nearly 80,000 people. This comprises nearly 60% of the population of Humboldt County. The bay is home to more than 100 plant species, 300 invertebrate species, 100 fish species, and 200 bird species. In addition, the bay and its complex system of marshes and grasses support hundreds of thousands of migrating and local shore birds. Commercially, this second-largest estuary in California is the site of the largest oyster production operations on the West Coast, producing more than half of all oysters farmed in California.

Bair Island

Bair Island is a marsh area in Redwood City, California, covering 3,000 acres (1,200 ha), and includes three islands: Inner, Middle and Outer islands. Bair Island is part of the larger Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. It is surrounded by the Steinberger slough to the northwest and Redwood Creek to the southeast.

Port of Stockton Deepwater port in the United States

The Port of Stockton is a major deepwater port on the Stockton Ship Channel of the Pacific Ocean and an inland port located more than seventy nautical miles from the ocean, in Stockton, California on the Stockton Channel and San Joaquin River-Stockton Deepwater Shipping Channel. The port sits on about 4,200 acres (17 km2), and occupies an island in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, and a portion of a neighborhood known as Boggs Tract. It is governed by a commission appointed by the City of Stockton and San Joaquin County. In 2012 it employed 4,500 people and made about $4.9 million in local tax funds.

Redwood Creek (San Mateo County)

Redwood Creek is a 9.5-mile-long (15.3 km) perennial stream located in San Mateo County, California, United States which discharges into South San Francisco Bay. The Port of Redwood City, the largest deepwater port in South San Francisco Bay, is situated on the east bank of Redwood Creek near its mouth, where the creek becomes a natural deepwater channel.

Westpoint Slough

Westpoint Slough is the largest of several sloughs feeding into Redwood Creek in San Mateo County, California, United States. This slough is surrounded by extensive undisturbed marshlands including Greco Island, which forms its northern boundary. The channel of Westpoint Slough contains considerable mudflat areas; moreover, both the marshes and mudflats offer considerable habitat area for local and migratory wildlife, especially birds.

Seaport Centre

Seaport Centre is a high-tech business park located in Redwood City, California, United States, and as of 2007 is one of the largest biotechnology research complexes in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Pacific Skyline Council

One of the six Boy Scouts of America councils that serves the San Francisco Bay area, the Pacific Skyline Council was founded in 1940 as the Stanford Area Council (#031). In 1994, the Stanford Area Council merged with the San Mateo County Council (#020) to form the current council which serves youth in San Mateo County and northern Santa Clara county.

Adobe Creek (Santa Clara County) Stream in Santa Clara County, California

Adobe Creek is a 14.2-mile-long (22.9 km) northward-flowing stream originating on Black Mountain in the Santa Cruz Mountains. It courses through the cities of Los Altos Hills, Los Altos, and Palo Alto in Santa Clara County, California, United States. Historically, Adobe Creek was a perennial stream and hosted runs of steelhead trout entering from southwestern San Francisco Bay.

Dumbarton Rail Bridge

The Dumbarton Rail Bridge lies just to the south of the Dumbarton road bridge. Built in 1910, the rail bridge was the first structure to span San Francisco Bay, shortening the rail route between Oakland and San Francisco by 26 miles (42 km). The last freight train traveled over the bridge in 1982, and it has been proposed since 1991 to reactivate passenger train service to relieve traffic on the road bridges, though this would entail a complete replacement of the existing bridge. Part of the western timber trestle approach collapsed in a suspected arson fire in 1998.

Winter Island (California) Restored as a tidal marsh in Suisun Bay

Winter Island is a 453-acre (183 ha) island in Suisun Bay, in the western Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. It is north of Pittsburg, separated from Browns Island to the west by a slough. It was private property, and contained one house. It is used as a duck hunting area, a wetland, and a dredging disposal area. In 2016 Winter Island was purchased by the California Department of Water Resources in order to restore the island as a tidal marsh. Winter Island is part of Contra Costa County, and managed by Reclamation District 2122. It is shown, labeled "Ruckels Island", on an 1850 survey map of the San Francisco Bay area made by Cadwalader Ringgold and an 1854 map of the area by Henry Lange.

Westpoint Harbor Port in United States

Westpoint Harbor is a marina that opened in 2008 at the mouth of the Westpoint Slough located in Redwood City, California.

Marine Science Institute (San Francisco Bay)

The Marine Science Institute (MSI) is a nonprofit organization focusing on marine science research and education. MSI was founded in 1970 and currently is situated in Redwood City, California adjacent to the Port of Redwood City. In the San Francisco Bay Area MSI has a mission driving marine education for schoolchildren and continues to receive grants to supplement their donations.

Arrillaga Family Rowing and Sailing Center

The Stanford University Arrillaga Family Rowing and Sailing Center is a boating facility utilized by Stanford Cardinal Athletics for sailing and rowing sporting activities. It is located at the Port of Redwood City along Redwood creek in Redwood City, California.

Greco Island

Greco Island is a wetland island in Redwood City, California. Greco Island is part of the larger Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Westpoint Slough follows the South side of the island while Redwood Creek is along the West. The San Francisco Bay bounds the North and East sides of the island.

Pacific Shores Center

Pacific Shores Center is a high-tech business park located in Redwood City, California, adjacent to the Port of Redwood City.

Blossom Rock (San Francisco Bay)

Blossom Rock was a serious navigational hazard to sailing ships entering or leaving San Francisco Bay in the 19th century. It was formally reported by Captain F. Beechey of the Royal Navy ship HMS Blossom in 1827.

Stockton Deepwater Shipping Channel Deepwater water channel in the United States

Stockton Deepwater Shipping Channel also called the Baldwin-Stockton Deepwater Shipping Channel or Stockton Deep Water Channel is a manmade deepwater water channel that runs from Suisun Bay and the Sacramento River - Sacramento Deep Water Ship Channel to the Port of Stockton and the Stockton Channel in California. The Stockton Ship Channel is 41 mi (66 km) long and about 37 ft (11 m) deep, allowing up to Panama Canal size ocean ships access to the Port of Stockton at the City of Stockton. The Stockton Deepwater Shipping Channel is part of the vast Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta that has a connection to the Pacific Ocean. Stockton Deepwater Shipping Channel is also called the lower San Joaquin River.


  1. 1 2 3 "Port of Redwood City". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey. 19 January 1981. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  2. "Port of Redwood City Facilities". Port of Redwood City. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  3. NOAA (4 November 2016). "San Francisco Bay, Southern Part". NOAA – Office of Coast Survey. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  4. Garilli, Giorgio (20 July 2017). "Annual Report" (PDF). Port of Redwood City. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  5. "Port of Redwood City Annual RePort to the Community". Port of Redwood City. September 2016. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  6. Caltrans Office of System and Freight Planning (30 July 2012). "Freight Planning Fact Sheet" (PDF). Caltrans. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  7. "THREE CONCRETE SHIPS WILL BE CONSTRUCTED AT REDWOOD". The Stanford Daily (9). 12 April 1918. p. 4. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  8. Castle, Jack; Sandul, Duane (2007). "Port of Redwood City History: Still Going Strong…" (PDF). Redwood City Port. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  9. "Port and Industry". RWC Local History. 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  10. "List of all California locations". Cemex. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  11. Rogers, Paul (9 January 2012). "EPA cracks down on Redwood City company polluting San Francisco Bay". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  12. Rosenbloom, Joe (April 19, 1966). "Anti-Napalm Group Announces Petition Set For Referendum". The Stanford Daily (41). p. 1. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  13. Prokosch, Eric (October 28, 1966). "Doctor Shaves Head; Harris Sympathizer". The Stanford Daily (26). p. 1. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
  14. U.S. Geological Survey, Redwood Point Quadrangle, 7.5 Minute Series, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC
  15. Schemel, Laurence E. (June 1995). "Supporting Data For Hydrologic Studies In San Francisco Bay, California: Meteorological Measurements At The Port Of Redwood City During 1992–1994" (PDF). USGS Publications Warehouse. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  16. T.J.Conomos, Circulation of San Francisco Bay Waters, in "San Francisco Bay: The Urbanized Estuary", ed. T.J. Conomos, pp 47–84 (1979)
  17. Journal Staff (30 June 2016). "Redwood City pops on the Fourth: Annual parade kicks off full day of events ending with fireworks". San Mateo Daily Journal. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  18. "Events". Port of Redwood City. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  19. "Mariner Scout Ship Tradewind". www.msstradewind.org. Girl Scouts of the USA. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  20. "Sea Scout ship links". www.msstradewind.org. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  21. "Stanford Rowing & Sailing Center". GoStanford. Stanford University. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  22. "Redwood City ferry proposal drops anchor". The San Francisco Examiner. 27 July 2007. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  23. Baldassari, Erin (29 September 2016). "Commuter ferry service approved from East Bay to San Francisco, Redwood City". East Bay Times. Retrieved 15 November 2016.