Take a short walk down Washington Boulevard from Immigrant Point Overlook to discover one of the Presidio's most poignant landmarks, the World War II Memorial to the Missing. Against a backdrop of Monterey pine and cypress trees, a gently curved wall of California granite bears the names of 412 servicemen and women who were lost or buried at sea in U.S. Pacific waters between 1941 and 1945.
Constructed in the late 1950s at the behest of the American Battle Monuments Commission, the Memorial – also known as the West Coast Memorial to the Missing – was designed by two San Francisco architects, Hervey Parke Clark and John F. Beuttler. The late Bay Area landscape architect, Lawrence Halprin, who later designed the meadow surrounding the Presidio's Letterman Digital Arts Center, created the beautifully tended surroundings.
At one end of the memorial stands a statue of a robed female figure, Columbia, by French sculptor, Jean De Marco. Historically, Columbia was the female personification of America, and a common figure in political and wartime imagery until the end of World War I. By the 1920s, she had largely disappeared from America's editorial pages, displaced by another grande dame and symbol of American independence, the Statue of Liberty. De Marco, who emigrated from France to New York in 1928 where he – fittingly – taught at Columbia University, won the 1965 Henry Hering Memorial Award for this sculpture.
After undergoing some work to repair a damaged toe, a newly restored Columbia gazes out onto the Pacific Ocean where so many lost their lives. With its stunning views of the San Francisco Bay, this important monument marks a key period in U.S. military history and allows for quiet contemplation.
Visit the Memorial
The memorial is located near the intersection of the California Coastal Trail, the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, and the Bay Area Ridge Trail. Accessible parking is onsite.