A Brief History of San Francisco

San Francisco

the early days


It can be said that the city of San Francisco was born of the gold rush. Though the gold itself was discovered to the east in the Sierra Mountains and its foothills, the money was spent in San Francisco. The population of San Francisco was less than 400 in 1847. By the end of 1849 there were between 20,000 and 25,000 residents (most of them men). By 1860 there were over 56,000 people. The city's (first) mint built in 1874 was one of the busiest in the country during this age of prosperity. The boom years came to a crashing end on the 18th of April, 1906 when the famous earthquake and subsequent fire hit the city. Much of the city was destroyed, but the city perservered and built up from the ashes. The San Francisco city flag depicts a phoenix rising commemorating this achievement. Currently well over 700,000 people reside in San Francisco and the surrounding suburbs support millions more.


gold miner watching city burn from Twin Peaks aftermath old city hall before and after quake San Francisco City Flag



Lockwood, Charles 1978, Suddenly San Francisco: the Early Years of an Instant City, first edition, The San Francisco Examiner Division of the Hearst Corporation [SFPL 979.461 L814s]

San Francisco Public Library - San Francisco History Center


A timeline of significant SF periods found at: http://www.zpub.com/sf/history/sfh2.html

For info on historic walking tours of SF: http://www.sfcityguides.org/descriptions.html

Detailed account of gold discovery - from the web site of the Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco

Historic sites in California State Parks - where you can step back in time to the Gold Rush of 1848

US Geological Service info on the 1906 quake

San Francisco census data

Read about efforts to save the historic 1874 Mint at the San Francisco Museum & Historical Society .

For more information on the history of San Francisco including information on the Native Americans that inhabited the area CLICK HERE




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Postcards from the Past

- some of these buildings still exist in San Francisco, many do not, the SFPS would like to put an end to the destruction of these monumental works of art -







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original De Young Museum









Cliff House







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