• SAN FRANCISCO 1903 - before the EARTHQUAKE
  • Copyright 1903
    the memorable year of 1776, while our own ancestors were making the immortal declaration which gave birth to the American nation, the Spanish padres, knowing nothing of the conflict across the land, established the humble mission of San Francisco for the conversion of a few Indian souls. In the same year followed the ceremony of taking formal possession of the presidio for King Charles III. of Spain. A flourishing trade in hides and tallow grew up between the padres and the Yankee shippers from around the Horn. In 1825 the establishment was reputed to own 79,000 sheep, a thousand tame horses and twice as many breeding mares, as well as hogs, working oxen and a large store of wheat, merchandise and some 25,000 dollars in hard cash. Such was the prosperity of the mission of San Francisco at the time when Mexico gained her independence from Spain, but all this temporal power of the Franciscans proved but a passing phase in the working out of a greater destiny for the city by the Golden Gate.
    WHEN in 1833, the Mexican Congress caused the dispersion of the Franciscan fathers of California, the missions were stripped of their wealth and activity, the Indians scattered, the padres left the country, and the broad fields of the California valleys fell into the hands of the Mexican ranchers who governed their principalities like the barons of old. These were the days of boundless hospitality when every stranger was welcome at the hacienda for as long as he chose to stay. Only the American was not liked, but even violent efforts to discourage his immigration had little effect in staying the tide which set in around the early forties. With the discovery of gold in 1848 in the sands of the American River, a tributary of the Sacramento, a wild scramble to the spot ensued. The great westward immigration swept across the sea. Ships came the long way around Cape Horn, via Panama, from the Hawaiian Islands, Australia, Japan and China.
    THE city of San Francisco grew almost in a day. It was a city of tents and gambling houses - a raw, crude, lawless place with the most cosmopolitan population the world has ever seen. But out of this wild era of the Argonauts, followed by that of the vigilance committee, soon grew more orderly conditions.
    IN 1863 work was commenced at Sacramento on the transcontinental railroad. A coterie of successful business men Of Sacramento, notably Leland Stanford, Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, Charles Crocker and E.B. Crocker, secured enormous concessions from the Government both in land and money for building the Central Pacific Road, while another company received similar grants for constructing the Union Pacific Road, starting at the eastern end of the line. Each of these roads was to have all the line it had laid up to the point of meeting. The dramatic race ended on the desert near the Great Salt Lake, where, with due ceremony, in May, 1869, Leland Stanford drove the last spike in the line which united California with the East. During the sixties and seventies the bonanza kings reaped their golden harvest. The most spectacular of the fortunes were amassed by J.C. Flood and W.S. O'Brien. When they associated with two practical miners of Virginia City, J.W. Mackey and J.G. Fair, the four secured possession of the Consolidated Virginia, and the discovery of a fabulously rich vein brought them princely incomes.
    ON the shores of San Francisco Bay dwell to-day one-quarter of the population of California. This peerless bay, acces sible, deep, safe, convenient, large enough for all the navies and merchant fleets of the world, with a climate free from winter snow and summer heat, is surrounded by one of the most productive countries known. It is the great point of departure from America into the Pacific, and vast as it is, it will at no very distant day bustle all over with the eager life of a great world harbor. A host of gulls swarms over the bay in the winter months. They follow the boats back and forth, darting after every morsel thrown to them, again poising in mid-air and eagerly watching for another crumb from the hands of the amused passengers.
    AS the great ferryboat glides into the slip, we follow the crowd into the magnificent nave of the Ferry Building and down the broad stairway to the great artery of the city. Market street slants boldly across the center of the city. The streets to the north of it were laid out on the points of the compass, up hill and down dale, many of the inclines being accessible only to the cable cars and to alpine climbers. The streets of the section south of Market are parallel or at right angles to that thoroughfare, while the district to the north is laid out on lines which form gore blocks at every intersection with Market. The busy stream of humanity coursing through the hotel, store and restaurant section are a democractic enough procession, but withal with the wool or outer rind off, tempered by the mellowness of the California clime, radiating with the exuberant cheer of this happy land.
    BUT why tell you of all the delightful sights, when your memory is stored full of them and the pictures are here to accentuate some of the graceful features of this metropolis of the Pacific.