1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO, the chief seaport and the metropolis of California and the Pacific Coast, the tenth city in population (1910) of the United States, and the largest and most important city W. of the Missouri river, situated centrally on the coast of the state in 37° 47' 22.55” N. and 122° 25' 40.76” W., at the end of a peninsula, with the ocean on one side and the Bay of San Francisco on the other. Pop. (1850), 34,000; (1890), 298,997; (1900), 342,782, of whom 116,885 were foreign-born and 17,404 coloured (mainly Asiatics); (1910) 416,912.
General Description.—The peninsula is from 6 to 8 m. broad within the city limits. The magnificent bay is some 50 m. long in its medial line, and has a shore-line of more than 300 m.; its area is about 450 sq. m., of which 79 are within the three-fathom limit, including San Pablo Bay. This great inland water receives the two principal rivers of California, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin. The islands of the bay are part of the municipal district, as are also the Farallones, a group of rocky islets about 30 m. out in the Pacific. The bay islands are high and picturesque. Several are controlled by the national government and fortified. On Alcatraz Island is the United States Prison, and on Goat Island the United States Naval School of the Pacific. The old Spanish “presidio” is now a United States military reservation, and another smaller one, the Fort Mason Government Reservation, is in the vicinity. The naval station of the Pacific is on Mare Island in San Pablo Bay, opposite Vallejo (q.v.). Between 1890 and 1900 the harbour entrance from the Pacific was strongly fortified; it lies through what is called the Golden Gate, a strait about 5 m. long and 1 m. wide at its narrowest point. The outlook from Mt Tamalpais (2592 ft.), a few miles N., gives a magnificent view of the city and bay. The site of the city is very hilly and is completely dominated by a line of high rocky elevations that run like a crescent-formed background from N.E. to S.W. across the peninsula, culminating in the S.W. in the Twin Peaks (Las Papas, “The Breasts”), 925 ft. high. Telegraph Hill in the extreme N.E., the site in 1849 of the criminal settlement called “Sydney Town” and later known as the “Latin Quarter,” is 294 ft. high; Nob Hill, where the railway and mining “kings” of the 'sixties and 'seventies of the 19th century built their homes, which only in recent years has lost its exclusiveness, is 300 ft. high; Pacific Heights, which became the site of a fashionable quarter, is still higher; and in Golden Gate Park there is Strawberry Hill, 426 ft. Hilly as it remains to-day, the site was once much more so, and has been greatly changed by man. Great hills were razed and tumbled into the bay for the gain of land; others were pierced with cuts, to conform to street grades and to the checker-board city plan adopted in the early days. An effort to induce the city to adopt, in the rebuilding after the earthquake of 1906, an artistic plan failed, and reconstruction followed practically the old plan of streets, although the buildings which had marked them had been for the most part obliterated. Some minor suggestions for improvement in arrangement only were observed. Cable lines were first practically tested in San Francisco, in 1873; since the earthquake they have given place, with slight exceptions, to electric car lines. A drive of some 20 m. may be taken along the ocean front, through the Presidio, Golden Gate Park, and a series of handsome streets in the west end. Market Street, the principal business street, is more than 3 m. long and 120 ft. broad. For nearly its full extent, excepting the immediate water-front, and running westward to Van Ness Avenue, a distance of 2 m., the buildings lining it on both sides and covering the adjoining area, a total of some 2000 acres, or 514 blocks, equivalent to 1⁄6 of the city plan, were reduced to ruins in the fire following the earthquake; only a few large buildings of so-called “fire-proof” construction remained standing on the street, and these had their interiors completely “gutted.” Repairs on the buildings left standing on this street alone involved an outlay of $5,000,000. Almost the whole of this area was built up again by 1910. As the result of the reconstruction of this section, thousands of wooden buildings, which had been a striking architectural characteristic of the city, were replaced by structures of steel, brick, and, especially, reinforced concrete. Before the earthquake wood had been employed to a large extent, partly because of the accessibility, cheapness and general excellence of redwood, but also because of the belief that it was better suited to withstand earthquake shocks. While the wooden buildings were little damaged by the shocks, the comparative non-inflammability of redwood proved no safeguard and fire swept the affected area irresistibly. In 1900 only one-thirteenth of the buildings in the city were of other material than wood. Of the 28,000 buildings destroyed in the disaster of 1906, valued approximately at $105,000,000, only 5000 were such as had involved steel, stone or brick in their construction. The new buildings, on which an estimated amount of $150,000,000 had been expended up to April 1909, and numbering 25,000 at that date, were built under stringent city ordinances governing the methods of building employed, to reduce the danger from fire to a minimum. The use of reinforced concrete as a building material received a special impetus in consequence. In size and value the new buildings generally exceed their predecessors, buildings eight to eighteen storeys in height being characteristic in the Market Street section. Owing to the complete reconstruction of its business section San Francisco is equalled by few cities in the possession of office and business buildings of the most modern type.
Buildings.—Among the buildings in the burned section restored since 1906, the Union Trust, Mutual Savings, Merchants Exchange, Crocker, Flood and the Call (newspaper) buildings are notable. Among business buildings built since the fire are the Phelan building (costing more than $2,000,000), the buildings of the Bank of California, the Alaska Commercial Company, the First National Bank and the San Francisco Savings Union, and the Chronicle (newspaper)
building. The architecture of the city until the earthquake and fire of 1906 was very heterogeneous. Comparatively few buildings were of striking merit. The old City Hall (finished in 1898), destroyed in 1906, was a great edifice of composite and original style, built of bricks of stucco facing (cost $6,000,000). Provision was made to erect a new building at a cost of $5,000,000. The Hall of justice, which houses the criminal and police courts and the police department of the city, was another fine structure. Provision was made in 1909 to replace it by a new building. Since the fire of 1906 a new Custom House has been built, costing $1,203,319. The other Federal buildings are not architecturally noteworthy. The Post Office, which withstood the fire and has since undergone repairs, is a massive modern building of granite (original cost $5,000,000). The buildings of the church and college (St Ignatius) of the Jesuits cover more than a city block; those of the Dominicans are equally extensive, and are architecturally imposing. There are several magnificent hotels. The Palace, an enormous structure covering a city block (it had 1200 rooms and cost more than $3,000,000), known as the oldest and most famous hostelry of the city, and architecturally interesting, was completely destroyed by the fire, but has been replaced by a new building. The St Francis, completely reconstructed since the fire, and the Fairmont are new. A revival of the old Spanish-Moorish “mission” (monastery) style has exercised an increasing influence and is altogether the most pleasing development of Californian architecture. Many buildings or localities, not in themselves remarkable, have interesting associations with the history and life of the city. Such are Pioneer Hall, the home of the Society of California Pioneers (1850), endowed by James Lick; Portsmouth Square, where the flag of the United States was raised on the 8th of July 1846, and where the Committee of Vigilance executed criminals in 1851 and 1856; Union Square, a fashionable shopping centre, decorated with a column raised in honour of the achievements of the United States Navy in the Spanish-American War of 1898; also the United States Branch Mint, associated with memories of the early mining days (the present mint dates only from 1874).
Parks.—The parks of the city are extensive and fine. Golden Gate Park (about 1014 acres) was a waste of barren sand dunes when acquired by the municipality in 1870, but skilful planting and cultivation have entirely transformed its character. It is now beautiful with semi-tropic vegetation. The Government presidio or military reservation (1542 acres) is practically another city park, more favourably situated and of better land than Golden Gate Park, and better developed. A beautiful drive follows the shore, giving views of the Golden Gate and the ocean. Near the W. end of Golden Gate Park are the ocean beach, the Cliff House, repeatedly burned down and rebuilt, the last time in 1907—a public resort on a rocky cliff overhanging the sea—the seal rocks, frequented all the year round by hundreds of sea-lions, Sutro Heights, the beautiful private grounds of the late Adolph Sutro, long ago opened to the public, and the Sutro Baths, one of the largest and finest enclosed baths and winter gardens of the world. Nearly in the centre of the city is the old Franciscan mission (San Francisco de Asis, popularly known as Mission Dolores), a landmark of San Francisco's history (1776).
Libraries, Museums, &c.—The Public Library has more than 100,000 volumes (it had more than 165,000 volumes before the fire of 1906, but then lost all but about 25,000). That left to the city by Adolph Sutro had more than 200,000 volumes, but suffered from the fire and earthquake of 1906 and now has about 125,000. It included remarkable incunabula, 16th-century literature, and scientific literature; and among its special collections are Lord Macaulay's library of British Parliamentary papers, a great collection of English Commonwealth pamphlets, one on the history of Mexico, and other rarities. The Mechanics-Mercantile Library (35,000 volumes) was formed before the fire of 1906 (when the entire collection of 200,000 volumes was destroyed) by the merging of the Mechanics Institute Library (116,000 volumes) and the Mercantile Library (founded 1852; 80,000 volumes). The Law Library, the libraries of the San Francisco Medical Society, and the French library of La Ligue Nationale Française (1874), were destroyed in the fire of 1906 and re-established. The building of the California Academy of Sciences (founded 1853, endowed by lames Lick with about $600,000) was destroyed in 1906. In Golden Gate Park is a museum owned by the city with exhibits of a wide range, including history, ethnology, natural history, the fine arts, &c. Very fine mineral exhibits by the State Mining Bureau, and California Agricultural and Pacific Coast commercial displays by the California Development Board, are housed in the Ferry Building, and there is a Memorial Museum in Golden Gate Park. The California School of Mechanic Arts was endowed by James Lick with $540,000. The San Francisco Institute of Art, conducted by the San Francisco Art Association (organized 1872), known until the fire of 1906 as the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art, was deeded (1893) to the Regents of the State University in trust for art purposes by a later owner. The building was totally destroyed and the institute was re-established under the new name on the same site. The school conducted by this institute had a fine collection of casts, presented to the city by the government of France. It is said to be the largest university art school of the country. The law, medical, dental, chemical and pharmaceutical departments of the State University are also in the city. Among other educational institutions are the Cogswell Polytechnic College, the Wilmerding School
of Industrial Arts, and the California School of Design. In sculpture and painting not much has yet been done to adorn the city.
The self-sufficingness of San Francisco, long forced upon it by the great distance from the older culture of the Eastern States, has thus far shown itself particularly only in the general features of society. Few names belong by exclusive right to San Francisco's literary annals,—the most noteworthy being those of Bret Harte, Joaquin Miller and Henry George; but perhaps a score among the better known of the more recent writers in the country have done enough of their work here to connect them enduringly with the city. The Bohemian Club is a famous centre of literary and artistic life. Among the daily newspapers the San Francisco Examiner (Independent-Democratic, 1865), the Chronicle (Republican, 1865), the Call (Republican, 1856) and the San Francisco Bulletin (Independent-Republican, 1855) are chiefly important.
Suburbs.—The city suburbs are partly across the bay and partly to the north and south on the peninsula. Oakland, Berkeley, the home of the State University (damaged by the earthquake), and Alameda, all eastward just across the bay; Burlingame, San Mateo, Menlo Park and Palo Alto, wealthy and fashionable towns southward on the peninsula; Sausalito and San Rafael, summer residence towns on the northern peninsula across the Golden Gate; all lie well within an hour of San Francisco, and are practically suburbs of the metropolis. Many excursions into the surrounding country are very attractive. Mt. Tamalpais has already been referred to. The railroad in making this ascent makes curves equivalent to forty-two whole circles in a distance of 8½ m., at one place paralleling its track five times in a space of about 300 ft.
Climate.—San Franciscan climate is breezy, damp and at times chilling; often depressing to the weakly, but a splendid tonic to others. In a period of 32 years, ending December 1903, the extremes of temperature were 29° and 100° F.; the highest monthly average 65°, the lowest 46°; the average for January, March, June, September and December, respectively 50°, 54°, 59°,61°, and 51° F. The average rainfall was 22.5 in., falling mostly from November to March. Every afternoon, especially from October to May, a stiff breeze sweeps the city; every afternoon in the summer the fogs roll over it from the ocean. Though geraniums and fuchsias bloom through the year in the open, an overcoat is often needed in summer.
Communications and Commerce.—San Francisco Bay is the most important as well as the largest harbour on the Pacific coast of the United States. There is a difference of a fathom in the mean height of the tides. Deep-water craft can go directly to docks within a short distance of their sources of supply, around the bay. In 1909 extensive improvements to the water front were under way, and land has been purchased west of Fort Mason for the construction of wharves and warehouses for the United States Transport Service. The largest craft can always enter and navigate the bay, and there are ample facilities of dry and floating docks. Steamer connexions are maintained with Australia, Hawaii, Mexico, Central and South America, the Philippines, China and Japan. San Francisco in 1909 had much the largest commerce of any of the Pacific ports. For 1909 the total imports of merchandise for the port were valued at $51,468,597 and the exports at $31,100,309. From 1891 to 1900 San Francisco dropped from the fifth to the eighth rank among the customs districts of the United States in point of aggregate commerce (the ports of Puget Sound rising in the same period from the twentieth to the tenth place). From 1893 to 1903 the yearly imports averaged $37,968,152, exports $33,658,266, and duties collected $6,642,173. The vessel movement for 1909 amounted to 4,959,728 tons arrivals and 4,974,922 tons departures. The foreign trade is chiefly with British Columbia, South America, China and Japan, and there is a considerable trade with Europe, Australia and Mexico. Trade with the Philippine Islands and the Hawaiian Islands and Alaska is important, while the coast wise trade with Pacific ports exceeds all the rest in tonnage. Lumber, grain and flour, fruits and their products, fish, tea and coffee are characteristic staples of commerce. While the export grain business had by 1909 shifted to ports in Oregon and Washington, San Francisco is the great receiving port for cereals on the Pacific Coast. San Francisco's permanence as one of the greatest ports of the country is assured by its magnificent position, the wealth of its “back country,” and its command of trans-Pacific and trans-continental commercial routes. It is very nearly the shortest route, great circle sailing, from Panama to Yokohama and Hongkong; the Panama Canal will shorten the sea route from Liverpool and Hamburg by about 5500 m. and from New York by 7800. Three trans-continental railway systems—the Southern Pacific (with two trans-continental lines, the Southern and the old Central Pacific), the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fé, and the Western Pacific—connect the city with the Eastern States; and besides these, it has traffic connexions with the three trans-continental lines of the north, the Canadian Pacific, Great Northern and Northern Pacific. Lines of the Southern Pacific and its branches connect the whole state with the city, a number of smaller roads—of which the most important is the North-Western Pacific—joining it with the surrounding districts. On the 1st of July 1900 the first train of the Santa Fé left San Francisco for the East; a significant event, as there had before been practically only one railway corporation (the Southern Pacific) controlling trans-continental traffic at San Francisco since 1869. Only one railway, the Southern Pacific's lower
coast route, actually enters the city. Some ten other roads, great and small, have their terminals around the bay.
Manufactures.—San Francisco in 1900 held twelfth place among the cities of the Union in value of output; in 1905 it ranked thirteenth. The total value of the factory products of the city in 1905 was $137,788,233 as against $107,023,567 in 1900. The leading products and their value in 1905, where given, were: sugar and molasses refining; printing and publishing, $9,424,494 (of which $5,575,035 was for newspapers and periodicals); slaughtering and meat packing (wholesale), $8,994,992; shipbuilding; foundry and machine-shop products, $8,991,449; clothing, $4,898,095; canning and preserving, $4,151,414; liquors (malt, $4,106,034; vinous, $53,511); coffee and spice roasting and grinding, $3,979,865; flour and gristmill products, $3,422,672; lumber, planing and mill products, including sash, doors and blinds, $2,981,552; leather, tanning and finishing, $2,717,542; bags, $2,473,170; paints, $2,048,250. The development of the petroleum fields of the state has greatly stimulated manufactures, as coal has always been dear, whereas the crude oil is now produced very cheaply. The Union Iron Works on the peninsula is one of the greatest shipbuilding plants of the country.
Government.—Charters were granted to the city in 1850, 1851 and 1856. By the last the city and county, which until then had maintained separate governments, were consolidated. Under this charter San Francisco throve despite much corruption, and it was because the provisions of the State Constitution of 1879 seemed likely to compel the adoption of another charter that the city decisively rejected that constitution. After many years of notorious “boss” rule, the city in 1896 elected a reform mayor. This was the most important movement for good government in its history since the Vigilance Committee of 1856. It was followed by the adoption (1898) of a new charter, which came into effect on the 1st of January 1900. Elections are biennial. The inclusion in the charter of the principle of the “initiative and referendum” enables a percentage of the voters to compel the submission of measures to public approval. The city's control is centralized, great power being given to the mayor. He appoints and removes members of the fire, police, school, election, park, civil service, health and public works commissions of the city; his veto may not be overcome by less than a five-sixths vote of the board of supervisors, and he may veto separate items of the budget. Taxation for ordinary municipal purposes is limited to 1% on property values, extra taxes being allowed for unusual purposes; but the city cannot be bonded without the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the electorate. Civil service is also provided for. There is a highly developed license system. The board of public works, composed of engineers, controls streets, sewers, buildings and public improvements. In 1885 the assessed property valuation of the city, on a basis of 60% of the actual value, was $223,509,560; in 1905, $502,892,459; in 1910 the total was $492,867,037. The net bonded debt on the 30th of June 1909 was $10,130,062.32. The water-supply system was greatly improved after the earthquake of 1906; whereas before the earthquake one main supply pipe brougnt all the water to the city, there have since been installed five systems which work independently of each other. Provision is made for filling the mains with salt water from the bay if necessary in fighting fire. While the supply had been furnished by a private corporation, the city was in 1910 planning for the ownership of its water-system, the supply to be drawn from the Sierras at a cost of some $45,000,000. Water was at that time in remote parts of the city drawn from artesian wells. In 1903 almost ten-elevenths of the street railways were controlled by one Eastern corporation, which was involved in the charges of municipal corruption that were the most prominent feature of the recent political history of the city. The electric power and light are drawn from the Sierras, 140 m. distant.
Population.—The population of San Francisco increased in successive decades after 1850 by 67.6, 16.3, 56.5, 27.8, 14.6 and21.6%. The population is very cosmopolitan. Germans and Irish are not so numerous here, relatively, as in various other cities, although in 1900 the former constituted 30.1 and the latter 13.6% of the total population. There is a large Ghetto, a so-called Latin Quarter, where Spanish sounds and signs are dominant, a Little Italy and a Chinese quarter of which no other city has the like. Chinatown, at the foot of Nob Hill, covers some twelve city blocks, and with its temples, rich bazaars, strange life and show of picturesque colours and customs, it is to strangers one of the most interesting portions of the city. It was completely destroyed in the fire of 1906, and its inhabitants removed temporarily across the bay to Oakland, but by 1910 the quarter had been practically rebuilt in an improved manner, yet retaining its markedly oriental characteristics. The new Chinatown gained considerably in sanitation and in the housing of its commercial establishments. San Francisco has naturally been the centre of anti-Chinese agitation. The success of the exclusion laws is seen (though this is not the sole cause) in the decrease of the Chinese population from 24,613 to 13,954 between 1890 and 1900.
The Japanese numbered 1781 in 1900 and have very rapidly increased. The question of their admission to the public schools, rivalry in labour and trade, and other racial antagonisms attendant on their rapid increase in numbers, created conflicts that at one time seriously involved the relations of the two countries. Two Chinese papers are published. More than half of the daily papers are foreign language.
History.—A Spanish presidio (military post), and the Franciscan mission of San Francisco de Asis, on the Laguna de los Dolores, were founded near the northern end of the peninsula in 1776. San Francisco was not one of the important settlements. Even the very important fact whether it was ever actually a pueblo—i.e. a legally recognized and organized town—was long a controverted question. Up to 1835 there were two settlements on the peninsula—one about the presidio, the other about the mission; the former lost importance after the practical abandonment of the presidio in 1836, the latter after the secularization of the mission, beginning in 1834. The year 1835-1836 marked the beginning of a third settlement destined to become the present San Francisco. This was Yerba Buena (“good herb,” i.e. wild mint), founded on a little cove of the same name S.E. of Telegraph Hill, extending inland to the present line of Montgomery Street. (The cove was largely filled in as early as 1851.)
The site of the city is very different from that of most American towns, and seemed a most unpromising location. The hills were barren and precipitous, and the inter spaces were largely shifting sand-dunes; but on the E. the land sloped gently to the bay. In 1835-1839 “San Francisco” had an ayuntamiento (town-council), and the different municipal officers seem to have been located at the same or different times at the mission, the presidio, or at Yerba Buena; the name San Francisco being applied indifferently to all three settlements. The ayuntamiento, apparently recognizing the future of Yerba Buena, granted lots there, and as the older settlements decayed Yerba Buena throve. In 1840 there were only a handful of inhabitants; in 1846, when (on the 9th of July) the flag of the United States was raised over the town, its prosperity already marked it as the future commercial “metropolis” of the coast. In this year a Mormon colony joined the settlement, making it for a time a Mormon town. The population in the year before the gold discovery probably doubled, and amounted to perhaps 900 in May 1848.
The first news of the gold discoveries of January 1848 was received with incredulity at San Francisco (to give Yerba Buena the name it formally assumed in 1847), and there was little excitement until April. In May there was an exodus. By the middle of June the hitherto thriving town had been abandoned by a large majority of its inhabitants. Realty at first fell a half in value, labour rose many times in price. Newspapers ceased publication, the town council suspended sessions, churches and business buildings were alike empty. When the truth became known regarding the mines a wonderful “boom” began. The population is said to have been 2000 in February (in which month the first steamer arrived with immigrants from the East over the Isthmus), 6000 in August, and 20,000 by the end of the year. A city of tents and shanties rose on the sand-dunes. Realty values rose ten-fold in 1849. Early in 1850 more than 500 vessels were lying in the bay, most of them deserted by their crews. Many rotted; others were beached, and were converted into stores and lodging houses. Customs revenues rose from $20,000 in the first half of 1848 to $175,000 in the second half and to $4,430,000 in the year ending in June 1852. There was at first no idea of permanent settlement, and naturally no time whatever to improve the city. Great quantities of expensive merchandise glutted the market and were sunk in the liquid mud of the streets as fillage for the construction of sidewalks. Between December 1849 and June 1851 seven “great” fires, destroying in the aggregate property valued at twenty or twenty-five millions of dollars, swept the business district. Half of this was in the fire of the 4th of May 1851, which almost completely destroyed the city. These misfortunes led to a more general employment of brick and stone in the business quarter. It is characteristic of the vagaries of Californian commerce in the early years that dressed granite for some buildings was imported from China.
In these days the society of San Francisco was extraordinary. It was the most extreme of all democracies. Probably never before nor since in America was there a like test of self-development. Unusual courage and self-reliance were necessary for success. Amusements were coarse and unrestrained. Gambling was the fiercest passion. Property was at first, in San Francisco as in the mines, exceptionally secure; then insecure. Crime became alarmingly common, and the city government was too corrupt and inefficient to repress it. It was estimated (Bancroft) that up to 1854 there were 4200 homicides and 1200 suicides; in 1855 the records show 583 deaths by violence. There were almost no legal convictions and executions. Juries would not punish homicide with severity. In 1851 the first Committee of Vigilance was formed and served from June to September, when it disbanded; it was the nucleus of the second and greater committee, active from May to August of 1856. By these committees criminals were summarily tried, convicted and punished; suspicious characters were deported or intimidated. These vigilantes were the good citizens (the committee of 1851 included some 800 and that of 1856 some 6000-8000 citizens of all classes), who organized outside of law, “not secretly, but in debate, in daylight, with sobriety and decorum,” to defend and establish, through defying, its rule. In this they were comparatively successful. Crime was never again so brazen and daring, and 1856 marks also the beginning of political reform. San Francisco's action was widely imitated over the state. In 1877 during the labour troubles a Committee of Safety was again organized, but had a very brief existence.
The United States military authorities in August 1847 authorized a municipal government. Under a municipal ordinance another was chosen in December 1848 to succeed it, but the parent government pronounced the election illegal; nevertheless the new organization continued to act, though another was chosen and recognized as legal. There were for a time at the end of 1848 three (and for a longer time two) civil governments and one military. Neither the military nor municipal organization was competent to give adequate law and peace to the community; and therefore in February 1849 the citizens elected a “Legislative Assembly,” which they empowered to make laws not in “conflict with the Constitution of the United States nor the common laws thereof.” This was proclaimed revolutionary by the military authorities, but such illegalities continued to spread over the state, until in June 1849 the Convention was called that framed the State Constitution, California being admitted in September 1850 to the Union. Provisional civil officers were elected throughout the state, and the Legislative Assembly came to an end. The charters of 1850, 1851 and 1856 have already been referred to.
The first public school was established in 1849. In 1855-1856 a disastrous commercial panic crippled the city; and in 1858, when at the height of the Fraser river gold-mine excitement it seemed as though Victoria, B.C., was to supplant San Francisco as the metropolis of the Pacific, realty values in the latter city dropped for a time fully a half in value. In 1859 foreign coin was first refused by the banks. Up to this time first gold dust, then private coins, and later money of various countries, had circulated in California. In 1860 mail communication was established with the East by a pony express, the charge being $5.00 for a half-ounce.
Some reference must be made to the Mexican land-grant litigation. The high value of land in and about the city caused the fabrication of two of the most famous claims examined and rejected as fraudulent by the United States courts (the Limantour and Santillan claims). They involved 7 sq. leagues of land and many millions of dollars. Another land question already referred to (that Whether San Francisco was entitled as a pueblo to 4 sq. leagues of public land) was settled affirmatively in 1867, but the final land patents were not issued until 1884 by the national government.
When the Civil War came in 1861 the attitude of San Francisco was at first uncertain, for the pro-slavery Democrats had controlled the state and city, although parties were remaking in the late 'fifties. About 75,000 arms are supposed to have been surreptitiously sent to California by the secessionist Secretary of War, J. B. Floyd; and the pro-slavery party seems to have planned to try for union with the Confederacy, or to organize a Pacific Coast republic. Thomas Starr King (1824-1864), a Unitarian minister, was the heroic war-time figure of the city, the leader of her patriotism. Her money contributions to the Sanitary Funds were, it is said, greater than those of any city in the country; and in every other way she abundantly evidenced her love for the Union. The curious Chapman (or Asbury Harpending) case of 1863 was a Confederate scheme involving piracy on Federal vessels in the Pacific and an effort to gain the secession of the state. It had no practical importance.
From 1859-1877 was the “silver era” of San Francisco (see California). It paralleled the excitement and gambling of 1849, and despite losses was a great stimulus to the city's growth. In September 1869 the Central Pacific line was completed to Oakland, and in the next four years there was a crash in real estate values inflated during the railway speculation. In 1876 railway connexion was made with Los Angeles. The 'seventies were marked by the growth of the anti-Chinese movement, and labour troubles, culminating in 1877-1879 with the “sandlots” agitation and the formation of the Constitution of 1879 (see California), in all of which San Francisco was the centre. The feeling against the Chinese found expression sometimes in unjust and mean legislation, such as the famous “queue ordinance” (to compel the cutting of queues—the gravest insult to the Chinese), and an ordinance inequitably taxing laundries. The Chinese were protected against such legislation by the Federal courts. The startling and romantic changes of earlier years long ago gave way to normal municipal problems and ordinary municipal routine. In the winter of 1894 the California Midwinter International Exposition was held in Golden Gate Park. Since 1898 the governmental changes previously referred to, the location of a new trans-continental railway terminus on the bay, and the new outlook to the Orient, created by the control of the Philippines by the United States, and increased trade in the Pacific and with the Orient, have stimulated the growth and ambitions of the city.
Special mention must be made of the two citizens to whom San Francisco, as it is to-day, owes so much, viz. James Lick (1796-1876), a cold man with few friends, who gave a great fortune to noble ends; and Adolph Sutro (1830-1898), famous for executing the Sutro Tunnel of the Comstock mines of Virginia City, Nevada, and the donor of various gifts to the city.
The partial destruction of San Francisco by earthquake and fire in 1906 was one of the great catastrophes of history. Earthquakes had been common but of little importance in California until 1906. In more than a century there had been three shocks called “destructive” (1839, 1865, 1868) and four “exceptionally severe” at San Francisco, besides very many light shocks or tremors. The worst was that of 1868; it caused five deaths, and cracked a dozen old buildings. Heavy earthquake shocks on the morning of the 18th of April 1906, followed by a fire which lasted three days, and a few slighter shocks, practically destroyed the business section of the city and some adjoining districts. The heaviest shock began at 12 minutes 6 seconds past 5 o'clock a.m., Pacific standard time, and lasted 1 minute 5 seconds. Minor shocks occurred at intervals for several days. The earthquake did serious damage throughout the coast region of California from Humboldt county to the southern end of Fresno county, a belt about 50 m. wide. The damage by earthquake to buildings in San Francisco was, however, small in comparison to that wrought by the fire which began soon after the principal shock on the morning of the 18th. About half the population of the city, it was estimated, spent the nights while the fire was in progress out of doors, with practically no shelter. Some 200,000 camped in Golden Gate Park and 50,000 in the presidio military reservation. The difficulty of checking the fire was increased through the breaking of the water-mains by the earthquake, draining the principal reservoirs. Traffic by street cars was made impossible by the twisting of the tracks.
To stop the fire rows of buildings were dynamited. In this way many fine mansions on Van Ness Avenue were destroyed, and the westward advance of the conflagration was stopped at Franklin Street, one block West. General Frederick Funston, in command at the presidio, with the Federal troops under him, assumed control, and the city was put under military law, the soldiers assisting in the work of salvage and relief. On the 21st the fire was reported under control. A committee of safety was organized by the citizens and by the city authorities acting in conjunction with General Funston, and measures were adopted for the prevention of famine and disease, permanent camps being established for those who had been rendered homeless and not provided for by removal to other cities. Assistance with money and supplies was immediately given by the nation and by foreign countries, a committee of the Red Cross Society being put in charge of its administration. By the 23rd of April about $10,000,000 had been subscribed by the people of the United States; Congress voted $2,500,000 from the national treasury. The committee organized as the Red Cross Relief Corporation completed its work in 1908, having spent for the relief of the hungry, for the sick and injured, and for housing and rehabilitation of individuals and families, in round numbers $9,225,000. As the result of the earthquake and fire about 500 persons lost their lives; of those two were shot as looters. Buildings valued at approximately $105,000,000 were destroyed. The total loss in damage to property has been variously estimated at from $350,000,000 to $500,000,000. To cover the loss there was about $235,000,000 of insurance in some 230 companies. Reconstruction in the burned section began at once, with the result that it was practically rebuilt in the three years following the earthquake. Wages for men employed in building, owing in part to scarcity of labour but chiefly to action of the labour unions, rose enormously, masons being paid $12 a day for a day of 8 hours. High prices of materials and of haulage and freight rates added difficulty to the task of rebuilding, which was accomplished with remarkable energy and speed. In May 1907 there was a street-car strike of large dimensions. Van Ness Avenue, which during the process of rebuilding had assumed the character of a business thoroughfare, did not maintain this status, the business centre returning to the reconstructed Market Street. A new retail business district developed in what is known as the mission district and in Fillmore Street. A new residence district known as Parkside was developed south of Golden Gate Park.
For description and general features, see Doxey's Guide to San Francisco and the Pleasure Resorts of California (San Francisco, 1897); and various guides and other publications of the California Development Board (formed by consolidation of the State Board of Trade and California Promotion Committee) in San Francisco. For economic interests and history see the bibliography of the article California. See also Frank Soule and others, Annals of San Francisco (San Francisco, 1858); John S. Hittell, A History of the City of San Francisco (San Francisco, 1878); B. E. Lloyd, Lights and Shades of San Francisco (San Francisco, 1876); C. W. Stoddard, In the Footprints of the Padres (San Francisco, 1900); Bernard Moses, The Establishment of Municipal Government in San Francisco (Johns Hopkins University Studies, 1889). Many legal questions of interesting constitutional, treaty and common law import have been decided in the Federal (and state) courts in cases involving Chinese; see the collections of reports. For good accounts of the great earthquake and fire, see D. S. Jordan (ed.), The California Earthquake of 1906 (1906); Aitken and E. Hilton, History of the Earthquake and Fire in San Francisco (1907); G. K. Gilbert and others, San Francisco Earthquake and Fire (Washington, 1907).
- For the fiscal year 1906-1907 the assessed value was $375,932,447, indicating the drop in values immediately after the earthquake and fire, and, by comparison with the 1910 figures, the extent of recovery.