2100 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965 Phone: 415-332-3871
Note from January, 2012: The Bay Model building's extensive renovation is complete, with seismic retrofits, solar panels and roof repairs all done. The Bay Model is back!
Finding the Bay Model: Although the address for the Bay Model Visitors Center is on Bridgeway, the building itself is actually located off of Marinship Way, which splits off of Bridgeway just to the south and runs down a small hill to the building. The satellite photo below shows the huge complex (including the new solar panels on the roof!), and the map shows how Bridgeway and Marinship Way intersect. Once you've turned onto Marinship Way signs will lead you to parking for the Bay Model Visitor Center.
Below: A Bay Model Brochure from 1958, shortly after its opening.
Spring Hours (through May 22)
Tues. – Sat. 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Closed Sundays & Mondays
Memorial Day Weekend (May 23 - 25)
Sat. - Mon. 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Summer Hours (Starting May 26)
Tues. – Fri. 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Sat. - Sun. 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Admission is free but a donation is requested (and well deserved, since they're teaching people to preserve the Bay we all depend upon).
See the second video below for "Why the Bay Model should have an award in the lobby for saving San Francisco Bay!"
The Bay Model and the Bay Model Visitor Center is a research and education facility built and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Inside is one of the most fascinating scientific tools you'll ever see: a working hydraulic model of San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento - San Joaquin River Delta Systems.
The Bay Model allows scientists, educators and visitors the chance to view the complete bay-delta system not just in 3D on a screen, but in three dimensions in real life, complete with real water and "real" tides and currents. It's over two acres in size, a structure so immense you can't comprehend it until you see it. Special walkways allow you to walk around in the middle of the model, not just at the edges.
What makes the model special is that its pipes and hydraulics make it a real simulation of the water environment of San Francisco Bay and the Delta. There are no glowing Disney-esque cityscapes, just a highly accurate physical model that can be used to simulate the effects of everything from oil spills to upstream dams, and fromwater diversions to floods caused by global warming.
They have a regular cycle of special events and presentations. Tours are available for groups with advanced reservations, and can be tailored to the technical sophistication of the group. The Corps of Engineers also makes the Visitor Center available to scientific and educational groups for meetings and seminars under a set of written guidelines. For more information on group events call (415) 332-3871
The Bay Model is an Unrecognized Hero of the Environmental Movement
The video below from KQED (with great historical footage) shows part of the motivation for the creation of the Bay Model: The "Reber Plan" inspired by cold war military fears and real estate speculation. In the video you hear a 1950's narrator talk about evacuating San Francisco after it's been hit by atomic bombs (yes, really) but most of the plan was about filling the Bay for more land, diverting more water to Los Angeles and increasing land values.
Fortunately for us, the Bay Model proved that the plan would be an environmental and economic disaster, turning the northern and southern arms of the Bay into evaporation ponds and killing the central Bay when it lost its supply of fresh water. This finally killed the idea.
Google Map Instructions: Use the "+" and "-" buttons to zoom in and out, the arrow keys to scroll the map, and the SAT button to see the satellite view.