San Francisco, California
The San Francisco area,
although occupied by the Ohlone Indians for 15,000 years,
was first “discovered” in 1579 by Sir Francis
Drake. He and his crew sailed past the entrance to San Francisco
bay and landed at Point Reyes, about 35 miles north of San
Francisco, claiming it for Queen Elizabeth. In 1775, almost
200 years later, the Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala
became the first European to enter the Golden Gate. He was
followed in 1776 by Captain Juan Bautista de Anza who built
a presidio (fort) above the entrance to the bay. A tiny village
known as Yerba Buena soon sprang up nearby.
Yerba Buena was renamed
San Francisco in 1847 just before gold was discovered in
the Sierra Nevada mountains to the east. Prospectors from
all over the world began flooding in by land and sea and
by 1849 over 100,000 people had passed through San Francisco
on their way to the gold fields. Some new arrivals stayed
and the city’s population exploded from 500
to 25,000 within a year. Mercantile establishments, small
industries, and shipping to the Orient flourished bringing
prosperity to the City. In 1850, California became the 31st
state in the Union.
In 1869, the first westbound
train arrived in San Francisco, and in 1870 San Francisco became
the tenth largest city in the United States. A large Chinese
population of laborers recruited in the 1840s and 1850's settled
here, joined by many other nationalities including Irish, French,
Italian, German, Russian, Australian, and Jewish immigrants,
giving San Francisco an international flair and appeal.
The initial gold rush fever had subsided by 1859 when a second
rush took place for the even richer wealth of the silver Comstock
Lode near Carson City, Nevada. The late 1870’s saw the
boom years of the gold and silver rushes dry up; nevertheless,
San Francisco grew steadily and at the turn of the century
the population was approaching 350,000. The Spanish-American
War in 1898 and the Klondike Gold Rush in Canada's Yukon in 1896
underlined the city's importance as a port, while the opening
of numerous banks established its continuing importance as
a financial center.
and the Golden Gate Bridge
In 1906, an earthquake and fire devastated
San Francisco but with characteristic spirit and determination
the residents rebuilt her, grander than ever before. The City
hosted the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915
and the World’s Fair in 1939. During the Great Depression,
two enormous public works projects helped to strengthen the
local economy: the Bay Bridge of 1936 and the Golden Gate Bridge
of 1937. The construction of the Golden Gate Bridge was considered
to be an impossible feat. It is one of the world's longest
suspension bridges, built over icy-cold, shark infested waters.
It has the highest bridge towers ever made.
Today, San Francisco is one of the most popular cities in the
world, having successfully maintained her international reputation
as a center for business and tourism for more than 150 years.
In addition, her residents continue to be civic minded, tolerant,
and open, blending established and traditional methods with
new innovations and creativity.