In 1776, Spanish explorers established a fortified outpost on the northern edge of what would become San Francisco. Over the next 200-plus years, this outpost, dubbed the Presidio, was a military base—first under Spain, then under Mexico, then under the United States. In all that time, the forces based at the Presidio never fired a shot in anger. Then, in 1989, the Pentagon announced that it was planning to close the Presidio as a military post. According to legislation enacted by the US...

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