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flag  History of San Francisco, California, USA

Journey back in time to San Francisco, California, USA

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San Francisco, California, USA - Wm. Smith, Manufacturer of Patent Water Closets Jackson Foundry, No. 523 Jackson Street, Between Montgomery and Kearny, San Francisco, 1871

San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA

During his engagement at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, Otis Redding stayed on a houseboat in Sausalito. While there he wrote his last song and greatest hit: "The Dock of the Bay."

There is MUCH more to discover about San Francisco, California, USA. Read on!

San Francisco Nostalgia: Vintage Photos, Ads, and Postcards

San Francisco, California, USA

Wm. Smith, Manufacturer of Patent Water Closets
Jackson Foundry, No. 523 Jackson Street, Between Montgomery and Kearny, San Francisco, 1871

San Francisco, California, USA

The "Cliff House"
Picturesque America... Oliver Bell Bunce, William Cullen Bryant
New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1872-1874.

"The Cliff House is a restaurant perched on the headland above the cliffs just north of Ocean Beach, on the western side of San Francisco, California. It overlooks the site of the former Sutro Baths and is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, operated by the National Park Service. On the terrace of the Cliff House is a room-sized camera obscura.

Cliff House has had five major incarnations since its beginnings in 1858. That year, Samuel Brannan, a prosperous ex-Mormon elder from Maine, bought for $1,500 the lumber salvaged from a ship that foundered on the basalt cliffs below. With this material he built the first Cliff House.

The second Cliff House was built in 1863, and leased to Captain Junius G. Foster. It was a long trek from the city and hosted mostly horseback riders, small game hunters or picnickers on day outings. With the... Read MORE...

San Francisco, California, USA

Scene at the Beach, San Francisco, Cal.

San Francisco, California, USA

Cresta Gold Rum
Bennett Distilling Co., San Francisco, California

Found at The Way It Was Museum, Virginia City, Nevada

San Francisco, California, USA

Douglas County Historical Society Courthouse Museum, Genoa, Nevada
Pure Food Rice
M. J. Brandenstein & Co.
about 1899

San Francisco, California, USA

Fisherman's Wharf

San Francisco, California, USA

Lower Gardens, Golden Gate State Park, San Francisco, Cal.

San Francisco, California, USA

Great Highway and Beach Esplanade, San Francisco, Calif.

San Francisco, California, USA

Visit San Francisco

Discover San Francisco: History, News, Travel, and Stories

Add informationAdd History/News/Story
  • 1776 - San Francisco founded
  • News  1847 - January 30 – Yerba Buena, California is renamed San Francisco.
    January 30, 1847
  • 1850 - April 15 - City of San Francisco incorporated
  • News  1850 - September 17 - Great fire in San Francisco
    September 17, 1850
  • News  1852 - July 3 - Congress authorizes US's 2nd mint (San Francisco, California)
    July 3, 1852
  • 1854 - San Francisco
    San Francisco, the commercial metropolis of California, and the queen city of the "far West," is situated on the western shore of the magnificent bay from which it derives its name. It stands in a plain about half a mile wide, gently inclined towards the bay, with numerous hills behind it. The soil on which this city is built is very sandy ; and in the vicinity, more particularly toward the north, are a number of sandhills. It is regularly laid out, the streets crossing each other at right angles. The houses till recently were mostly frame, but since the destructive fires that have occurred several times, laying the greater part of the town in ruins, brick and iron are becoming more extensively used. The city now contains many well-built fire proof stores and banking houses. The better class of frame houses are painted white, with green blinds, presenting the appearance of the houses in New England...

    Population. — The inhabitants of San Francisco have been variously estimated from ... Read MORE...

    San Francisco, Monday, April 16.

    A terrible explosion of what was supposed to be nitro glicerine, occurred at a 1:15 o'clock to-day, near WELLS, FARGO & Co.'s building. The explosion shook the earth like an earthquake for a circle of a quarter of a mile.

    SAMUEL KNIGHT, Superintendent of Wells, Fargo & Co.'s Express, died in half an hour of injuries received. G. W. BELL, Supervisor and Assayer, was instantly killed. MR. WALLUT, Wells, Fargo & Co.'s Assayer; JOSEPH ELLIOTT; JOHN GALLAGHER; FRANK WEBSTER and WILLIAM JUSTIN were also killed.

    Eight dead bodies were so mutilated that they could not be identified. LOUIS McLANE, Capt. ELDRIDGE, of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and Judge HOFFMAN, were bruised and cut. FELIX LAMAX, D. STACY, JEFFERSON TAYLOR, H. BLANE, clothing dealer, Capt. J. AYRES, FRED LEIZ, FRANK MORAN and others, were injured, but not fatally. Some will never be identified, as fragments of human flesh, bones and brains were found nearly two blocks... Read MORE...

  • News  1868 - Built on Made Land
    San Francisco is so largely built on made land that the timbers of old wharves were recently exhumed half a mile from the present water front.
    St Joseph Herald
    Saint Joseph, Michigan
    June 13, 1868
  • News  1868 - In digging a foundation in San Francisco, a heavy barrel was exhumed, and great was the excitement when it became rumored that a barrel of gold dust had been hidden there some twenty years ago.
    When opened, it proved to be full of very putrid flour.
    St Joseph Herald
    Saint Joseph, Michigan
    August 22, 1868
  • 1869 - First westbound train arrived in San Francisco webimage/ countrys/ namerica/ usstates/ catimeln.htm
  • News  1869 - Teaching Chinese Girls
    Teachers are to be employed to instruct the Chinese girls in San Francisco, where they are rapidly increasing. The work is undertaken by the churches.
    St Joseph Herald
    Saint Joseph, Michigan
    June 19, 1869
  • 1873 - August 2 - A San Francisco cable car travels on Clay Street between Kearny and Jones Streets during its first trial run.
  • News  1874 - A Curious Clock
    A Thompson, Connecticut, clock company has shipped a curious clock to San Francisco, to be placed in the tower of the greatest hotel on the continent, where it will furnish the time for 500 dials, which are to be operated by compressed air carried in pipes all over the building. The building has 500 rooms and there is to be a dial in every room.
    The Galveston Daily News
    Galveston, Texas
    February 24, 1874
  • News  1876 - June 4 - An express train called the Transcontinental Express arrives in San Francisco, California, via the First Transcontinental Railroad only 83 hours and 39 minutes after having left New York City.
    June 4, 1876
  • 1887 - San Francisco experienced its greatest snowstorm of record. Nearly four inches was reported in downtown San Francisco, and the western hills of the city received seven inches. Excited crowds went on a snowball throwing rampage
  • News  1889 - November 23 - Debut of 1st jukebox (Palais Royale Saloon, San Francisco)
    November 23, 1889
  • 1893 - August 10 - The first Chinaman was deported from San Francisco for non-registration.

    The World Almanac and Book of Facts, Volume 1894 Press Publishing Company. 1894
  • News  1897 - Dead Fish Don't Grow
    Anglers Who Are Returning From Their Vacations.

    Anglers are returning from their summer vacations with reports of excellent fishing enjoyed at some of the mountain resorts. Fish Commissioner Vogelsang, who had a very pleasant outing in the big meadow country, states that the rainbows take a large fly of rough pattern, and when hooked they make a game struggle for freedom. A majority of the anglers who visit the meadows catch their trout by either whipping or trolling a spoon.

    Henry Skinner, a popular salesman of E. T. Allen & Co., is enjoying first-class trout-fishing on the Truckee near Boca. Mr. Skinner is a master of the rod, and there are few among the fraternity who can cast a fly as stylishly as Colonel Skinner and with such precision. It is no wonder, then, that his many friends in this City have been recipients of some nice boxes of Truckee River trout.

    Anglers must not lose sight of the fact that thee best fishing on Truckee River is invariably to... Read MORE...

  • News  1900 - FELL ON MOLTEN GLASS. Scores Killed and Injured by the Collapse of a Roof. SEVERAL ROASTED TO DEATH.
    Disaster Occurred at a Football Game in San Francisco - Victims Were Hurled on a Red Hot Furnace - Bodies Drawn From the Retorts With Pokers - The Dead and Injured.

    San Francisco (Special). - By the collapse of the roof of the Pacific Glass Works while it was crowded with men and boys who were watching a football game between the Stanford and University of California teams, fifteen persons were killed. More than 100 persons fell into the furnace of the factory upon ovens and retorts containing molten glass when the roof collapsed. The injured number eighty-three, and of these several cannot survive.

    The dead are:
    EDGAR FAIRHAVEN, eleven years old.
    W. H. ECKFELDT, twelve years old.
    WILLIAM VANELCIA, eighteen years old.
    THOMAS J. RIPPON, twenty-four years old.
    JAMES A. MULRONEY, forty years old.
    MARQUIS VAN DURN, forty-five years old.
    VIRGIL NEUBY, fifteen years old.
    CHARLES MONSHAN, thirty-four years old.
    TALLEYRAND BARNWELL, sixteen years old.
    LUNON GIRARD, sixteen...

  • 1901 - San Francisco - By the West Gate of the World by Edwin Markham
    If Xenophon had journeyed westward from Athens, pressing beyond the amber caverns of the Baltic, beyond the tin mines of Thule, out past the Gates of Hercules, exactly west, across an ocean and a continent, the next Ihalalta of his men would have saluted the Pacific at the Golden Gate from the low, shifting sand hills of the unrisen San Francisco. For the violet veiled city of Athene and the gray draped city of St. Francis are in one line of latitude.

    San Francisco crowns the extremity of a long, rugged peninsula, a little north of the centre of California,

    "The land that has the tiger's length,
    The tawny tiger's length of arm,"

    the land that stretches from pine to palm,

    "Haunch in the cloud rack, paw in the purring sea."

    The one break in the mountain wall of the California Coast Range is the Golden Gate, the watery pass that leads from San Francisco to the Pacific. Spurs and peaks and cross ridges of this mountain chain would at long range seem to encompass the city... Read MORE...

  • 1901 - February 22 - The Pacific Mail Steamship Company's SS City of Rio de Janeiro sinks entering San Francisco Bay, killing 128.
    February 22, 1901
  • 1905 - San Francisco - The popsicle was invented by 11-years-old Frank Epperson in 1905. Epperson (1894-?) lived in San Francisco, California.
    Epperson had left a fruit drink out overnight (with a stirrer in it), and it froze, making a new treat. His frozen treat was originally called the Epsicle. Epperson got a patent on his "frozen ice on a stick" many years later, in 1923. The Epsicle was later renamed the popsicle. Epperson also invented the twin popsicle (with two sticks so it could be shared by two children), Fudgsicle, Creamsicle and Dreamsicle. inventors/ us.shtml

  • News  1906 - Earthquake
    April 18, 1906 - An earthquake in San Francisco is followed by four days of a devastating fire. An estimated 3,000 lives are lost and damage is estimated at $500 million in 1906 dollars.

    Timeline: U.S. Storm Disasters, American Experience
    April 18, 1906
  • News  1906 - October 11 – A United States diplomatic crisis with Japan arises when the San Francisco public school board orders Japanese students to be taught in racially segregated schools.
    October 11, 1906
  • News  There have been five cases of bubonic plague in San Francisco, four of them resulting fatally.

    The Clinton Mirror
    Clinton, Iowa
    August 24, 1907
  • News  1915 - February 20 – In San Francisco the Panama-Pacific International Exposition is opened.
    February 20, 1915
  • News  1916 - July 22 – In San Francisco, California, a bomb explodes on Market Street during a Preparedness Day parade, killing 10 injuring 40
    July 22, 1916
  • News  1917 - January 25 – An anti-prostitution drive in San Francisco occurs and police close about 200 prostitution houses.
    January 25, 1917
  • News  1929 - March 2 – The longest bridge in the world at this time, the San Francisco Bay Toll-Bridge, opens.
    March 2, 1929
  • News  1933 - January 5 - Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge begins in San Francisco Bay.
    Before the project began, many people thought building the bridge was impossible. And when the construction started, most thought that dozens would die in the process. The rule of thumb at the time was that for every million dollars spent on a project, one person would die — and the Golden Gate Bridge was going to cost $37 million.

    At first, those fears seemed to be proved unfounded. On Jan. 5, 1933, construction began — and it continued without a single fatality for four years. (

    Construction of the bridge began in 1932, during the Great Depression, when jobs were scarce. The men working on the Golden Gate Bridge (a four-and-a-half-year project) were greatly envied, even though they worked in very dangerous conditions, balancing high above the freezing ocean waters.

    To combat the dangerous working conditions, bridge designer Joseph Strauss introduced the hard hat and a safety net that stretched end to end under the bridge. Nineteen workers fell. Saved by that... Read MORE...

  • News  1937 - May 27 – In California, the Golden Gate Bridge opens to pedestrian traffic.
    The next day, with a push of a telegraph button, President Franklin Roosevelt opened the bridge to cars, too.

    The area known as the Golden Gate is the channel formed where the mouth of the San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. People used the name Golden Gate as early as 1846, even before the gold rush and long before the bridge. Explorer John C. Frémont was possibly the first to call the rocky straits the "Golden Gate."
    May 27, 1937
  • 1939 - February 18 – The Golden Gate International Exposition opens in San Francisco, California.
    February 18, 1939
  • News  June 26, 1945: United Nations charter signed, San Francisco, CA

    The Old Farmer's Almanac
    June 26, 1945
  • News  1949 - CHINATOWN FIRE DAMAGE $20,000.
    San Francisco, Sept. 9. (AP) - A three alarm fire his Chinatown early Thursday.

    The blaze broke out in the basement of a vacant three story building on California street just above Grant. It was controlled in a half hour. Fire Chief EDWARD P. WALSH estimated damage at $20,000.

    Seventy five persons in an adjoining lodging house were evacuated. WALSH said the fire may have been started by an itinerate sleeping in the vacant building, formerly a hotel. Three firemen were hurt fighting the blaze.
    Reno Evening Gazette
    Reno, Nevada
    September 9, 1949
  • News  1956 - January 9 - First "Dear Abby" column appears in San Francisco Chronicle
    How Dear Abby column started at The Chronicle
    TODAY'S EXTRA: Her column of sage advice started at The Chronicle
    By Peter Hartlaub Published 4:00 am, Saturday, January 24, 2009

    Pauline Phillips walked into the Chronicle building 53 years ago this month with almost no chance of getting the advice column job she was seeking. The newspaper already had the position filled, and Phillips had recently been rejected by the San Mateo Times, a much smaller paper.

    But editor Stanleigh Arnold believed in a meritocracy, offering Phillips the chance to rewrite the answers given by his current advice columnist to see whether Phillips could do a better job. Phillips walked a few blocks away to her husband's office, kicked his secretary out of her chair and pounded out the answers in a couple of hours.

    "By the time she got back to Hillsborough, that's where she was living at the time, they had already called three times," remembers Jeanne Phillips, Pauline's daughter and the current Dear... Read MORE...

  • 1962 - January 21 - Snow falls in San Francisco
  • 1989 - October 17 - An earthquake in San Francisco (6.9 on the Richter scale) kills 67 people and leads to the cancellation of game 3 of the World Series.
  • 1989 - October 17 - An earthquake in San Francisco (6.9 on the Richter scale) kills 67 people and leads to the cancellation of game 3 of the World Series.

Discover Your Roots: San Francisco Ancestry

Ancestors Who Were Born or Died in San Francisco, California, USA

We currently have information about ancestors who were born or died in San Francisco.

View Them Now (sorted by year of birth)

male ancestorJosiah Watson MOULTON (15 August 1823, Milton, New Hampshire, USA - 25 March 1886, San Francisco, California, USA)
male ancestorFred S. MCMAHON (1824, , Ireland - 5 April 1869, San Francisco, California, USA)
male ancestorJames Blanchard BROWN (23 April 1825, Newbury, Massachusetts, USA - 29 September 1849, San Francisco, California, USA)
photo of Jackson TEMPLEJackson TEMPLE (11 August 1827, Heath, Massachusetts, USA - 25 December 1902, San Francisco, California, USA)
female ancestorAdeline Wittemore PARKER (July 1827, Amherst, New Hampshire, USA - 21 July 1901, San Francisco, California, USA)
male ancestorLevi (Löb) STRAUSS (STRAUß) (26 February 1829, , Bavaria, Germany - 26 September 1902, San Francisco, California, USA)
male ancestorTazewell TYLER (6 December 1830, Charles City, Virginia, USA - 8 January 1874, San Francisco, California, USA)
female ancestorSusan Waters TORREY (26 August 1835, Millbury, Massachusetts, USA - 1 February 1904, San Francisco, California, USA)
female ancestorAbby Frances PECKHAM (January 1837, , Rhode Island, USA - 5 May 1915, San Francisco, California, USA)

Ancestors Who Were Married in San Francisco, California, USA

We currently have information about ancestors who were married in San Francisco.

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photo of William Henry MCGUIRE William Henry MCGUIRE (6 March 1844 - 19 November 1910) and photo of Anna Cecilia KAVANAUGH Anna Cecilia KAVANAUGH (10 June 1848 - 30 July 1917) married 20 February 1877
male ancestorJames Carroll EWING (31 October 1866 - 19 January 1937) and female ancestorGrace Alberta EATON (15 August 1869 - 12 February 1935) married 22 September 1888
male ancestorFrederick John COOK (04/08/1864 - 02/23/1938) and female ancestorCecelia M FLANNERY (16 January 1864 - 8 April 1926) married 1895
male ancestorAlbert William ANDERSON (21 July 1900 - 2 January 1968) and female ancestorEthel Mary DAY (25 February 1900 - 21 May 1960) married 22 July 1922
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Updated: 3/30/2023 1:43:38 PM

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