Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A tiny island for a tiny budget: shopping the Treasure Island Flea Market

Even though I've spent my entire life in the San Francisco Bay Area (sans four or so years), until this weekend I had never set foot on Treasure Island. But after my coworker Freda came into the office gushing about how awesome the place was, I had to check it out.

Treasure Island is an entirely man-made island, attached to the naturally-occuring Yerba Buena Island by a narrow isthmus. It was built by the federal government in 1939 for the World's Fair, and later became an airport and then a Naval base. The Treasure Island base was decommissioned in 1996 (along with the Presidio Army Base in San Francisco proper), and was then opened up for public use. It's been a mixed bag; there's been some film production located there (like for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Matrix), housing for the Job Corps kids, and now several wineries make their home there. There've been even more recent efforts to develop more housing there and make it attractive to residents and businesses. But as Freda liked to point out, the entire island is full of toxic materials, and since it's made of landfill, it runs the risk of liquefying in an earthquake. There's also the problem that there's nothing there. No gas station. No grocery store. No nothin'. And the only way to access it is to take the Bay Bridge from either San Francisco or Oakland.


Yep, it's named after the Robert Louis Stevenson book, a fact not lost on its residents

But still, it's such a unique place I'm even thinking of exploring their housing options. The views are breathtaking, it's removed from the hustle of the city but still mere minutes away (depending on Bridge traffic), and it's just... neat.


Photo by Freda Maletsky

We started our day under an enormous statue of a woman that had been brought back from Burning Man. We then hit up the food trucks (Chairman Bao's steamed buns are delectable!) and wandered around the flea market. The Treasure Island Flea Market is still really new; its first show was this past May, so the one we attended was only their third time out. (And apparently they used to charge to get in -- don't worry, they scrapped that idea quickly!)


The flea market was pretty much what you'd expect from a Bay Area market. It was small (not nearly as huge as the Alameda Point Antiques Fair), and its booths ran the gamut from great vintage pieces, handmade hipster wear, and garage sale junk.


I almost almost bought one of these picnic baskets...

A crate of awesome vintage books -- green ghosts and crooked cats, oh my!

A whole booth of wire baskets and wooden shelves -- made me want to get my organization on!

Bambi McDonald's toys! OMG, I had these as a kid and they were the BEST HAPPY MEAL TOYS EVER!

I don't know what this is, and I'm not sure I want to know.

Vintage auditorium seats from a local school that was remodeled.

A twee, Etsy-ish booth with feather hair extensions and jewelry, photo booth props on sticks (like fake Brian Wilson beards), and handmade flower hair clips -- everything a San Francisco hipster could want.

I literally said out loud before we began that I was not allowed to buy My Little Ponies. Dangit...

How cool is this anchor? I'm not sure what I'd do with it, other than have it sit around my apartment, looking cool.

Freda bought a pin version of the bacon wrapped hot dog. Meanwhile, the poo is sorry that it stinks.

A bizarro recumbent bike

A tiny child's bike. I should have bought this; there's no way I would have cried at the thought of falling over on this...

Talking (and talking) with Clyde the ring guy! He makes rings out of coins like quarters and half-dollars. My work often books him for parties; I have a quarter ring with the Hawaiian state design on it.

Clyde's setup, with his ball bearings and nuts n' bolts.

Amazing details on the completed rings.


After finishing up at the market, the bunch of us went wine tasting. Our first stop, The Winery, was too crowded so we moved on to three of the others that make their home on the island. (My favorite was Fat Grape, which is located in the old brig.)


As we walked around the island to the different tasting rooms, I was caught up in the fantasy that we were in a post apocalyptic zombie movie. C'mon, doesn't it look like they could film The Walking Dead here? I'm in love with the abandoned, decaying buildings. I doubt anyone would notice if I just started squatting in one...


Don't open - dead inside


As we left the island, I was able to snap a picture of the billion-dollar view of San Francisco.


Yep, I think it might be worth living on a toxic, decaying Navy base just to get to see that every day.

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