Richardson Island

Richardson Island
Aerial image of an island.
USGS aerial imagery of the former location of Richardson Island
Richardson Island is located in San Francisco Bay Area
Richardson Island
Richardson Island
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Richardson Island is located in California
Richardson Island
Richardson Island
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Richardson Island is located in the United States
Richardson Island
Richardson Island
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Location Northern California
Coordinates 37°56′12″N 122°31′04″W / 37.93667°N 122.51778°W / 37.93667; -122.51778 (Richardson Island)[1]Coordinates: 37°56′12″N 122°31′04″W / 37.93667°N 122.51778°W / 37.93667; -122.51778 (Richardson Island)[1]
Adjacent bodies of water San Francisco Bay
Highest elevation 16 ft (4.9 m)[1]
United States
State California
County Marin

Richardson Island is a former island in San Francisco Bay, in northern California. While it was once surrounded by water and marsh (and appears as an island in maps surveyed in 1894),[2] development of surrounding areas caused it to become completely surrounded by land by the mid-20th century.[3] It is located in Marin County, in the city of Corte Madera.[4]: 27  The United States Geological Survey (USGS) gave its elevation as 16 ft (4.9 m) in 1981.[1] It is near the end of Corte Madera Creek, where it flows into San Francisco Bay.[5]

In 1885, it came into the possession of the Corte Madera Rancho del Presidio, one of the largest ranches in Marin County at the time.[6] Its proprietors were sued by the United States in 1891, alleging that they had procured the island (among some 4,000 acres (1,600 ha) of land in the area) through a "false and fraudulent plot, alleged to have been made by field notes of an actual survey".[6] In 1908, construction of railroad track for the Green Brae–Corte Madera cutoff involved workers cutting through the southeastern end of the island;[7] by 1925, it had become part of the Keever estate.[7] Henry Richardson, a member of the Amundsen polar expedition, was born on Richardson Island.[8] By 1941, USGS maps show Richardson Island as completely connected to surrounding land;[3] while the label "Richardson Island" was still shown at the location on a 1954 USGS map, by that point it was no longer an island.[5]

In 1950, the city of Corte Madera engaged in an "annexation war" with neighboring Larkspur; Richardson Island was one of several pieces of land Corte Madera attempted to annex.[9] Of four tracts, one was approved by the city to be annexed by ordinance—the "Fifer-Moore addition", located on Richardson Island.[10] Larkspur had previously attempted to block annexation of the island by "cutting it off" from Corte Madera.[9] By 2009, the area previously occupied by Richardson Island was part of Corte Madera, and primarily zoned for mixed-use commercial, mixed-use gateway area, and public and semi-public facilities.[4]: 27  It was classified under the "Fifer Avenue/Tamal Vista" community plan study area.[4]: 43 


  1. ^ a b c U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Richardson Island
  2. ^ Gannett, Henry; Goode, R.U.; Marshall, R.B. (1896). "California: Tamalpais Sheet". United States Geological Survey. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Topography, State of California: Tamalpais Quadrangle". United States Geological Survey. 1941. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Town of Corte Madera (2009). "General Plan: Land Use". Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  5. ^ a b United States Geological Survey (1954). "San Rafael Quadrangle, California" (Map). United States Department of the Interior Geological Survey. 1:24000.
  6. ^ a b "Three islands stolen. The Corte Madera Rancho Suit Brought at Last". The San Francisco Examiner. San Francisco, California. August 30, 1891. p. 9.
  7. ^ a b "The Latest By Wire". The Petaluma Daily Courier. Petaluma, California. October 29, 1908. p. 1.
  8. ^ "Corte Madera Notes". San Anselmo Herald. San Anselmo, California. June 26, 1925. p. 7.
  9. ^ a b "Corte Madera 'Peace Feeler' Next Step In Annexation War". Daily Independent Journal. San Rafael, California. August 16, 1950. p. 1.
  10. ^ "Corte Madera OKs One Annexation, Rejects 4 Others". Daily Independent Journal. San Rafael, California. October 10, 1950. p. 1.

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