Timeline of San Francisco History
San Francisco timeline posters
Courtesy of Ralston
(Prepared by John
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From 1500 to 1925
From 1925 to 1995
1579 - Sir Francis Drake anchors at Drake's Bay, Point
1603 - Sebastian Vizcaino charts California coast;
misses San Francisco Bay.
1769 - Don Gaspar de Portola finds San Francisco Bay.
1776 - Mission Dolores founded.
1776 - Presidio founded.
1806 - Russian aristocrat Nikolai Rezanov meets Concha
Arguello, Spanish Governor's
daughter; they fall in love.
1833 - Missions secularized.
1835 - Captain William A. Richardson builds San Francisco's
first home. First child of European parents born 1836.
1846 - First Election in Yerba Buena. Washington Bartlett
1846 - Gen. Fremont and the Bear Flag Revolt. Americans
fight war against Mexicans.
1846 - Captain Montgomery of the Portsmouth raises
American flag, claims city for the United States.
1846 - The Brooklyn Arrives at Yerba Buena.
Sam Brannan docks with 238 Mormon pioneers.
1846 - Under the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Mexico
cedes California to the United States.
1847 - San Brannan begins California Star, city's first
newspaper; later merges with Alta.
1847 - Alcalde Washington Bartlett issues proclamation
changing the name of the settlement from "Yerba Buena"
to "San Francisco" to end confusion..
1848 - Carpenter James Marshall, hired to build a sawmill
at Sutter's Fort, Coloma, finds gold in the American River.
1849 - Population of San Francisco grows from a few
hundred in early 1848 to over 30,000 by the end of 1849. Thousands
of immigrants overwhelm city. Prices skyrocket.
1849 - Stephen Massett gives city's first theatrical
1849-1851 - Six major fires destroy San Francisco almost
faster than it can be rebuilt.
1850 - September 9: California is admitted to the Union.
1851 - Crime gets out of control of the civil authorities.
First Committee of Vigilance established.
1851 - La Sonnambula performed; first opera in California.
1853 - Founding of the California Academy of Sciences,
one of San Francisco's first intellectual institutions.
1855 - James King of William starts evening Bulletin.
1856 - Second Committee of Vigilance summoned when
Bulletin founder James King is shot by corrupt supervisor
1856 - Morning Call begins.
1857 - Engineer Theodore Judah surveys railroad route
linking California with eastern US.
1858 - Overland stage begins between San Francisco
1859 - Justice David Terry kills Senator David Broderick
1862 - Telegraph line connects New York and San Francisco.
1865 - Mark Twain wrote about the earthquake of October
8th for the Call.
1865 - Charles and M.H. de Young start Chronicle.
1869 - Transcontinental Railroad completed, connecting
San Francisco with the rest of the U.S.
1870 - State legislature designates portion of city
as Golden Gate Park.
1873 - Scottish immigrant Andrew Hallidie invents the
1873 - Hallidie's cable car tested, begins service.
1873 - University of California Medical School begins.
1874 - New Mint on Fifth Street opens.
1875 - Palace Hotel opens.
1877 - Anti-Chinese riot; Chinatown businesses burned.
1878 - 4 teams form "Pacific Base Ball League".
1878 - Eadweard Muybridge exhibits his panorama of
San Francisco, taken in multiple frames from the Mark Hopkins
mansion on Nob Hill.
1879 - Henry George publishes Progress and Poverty.
1880 - Eadweard Muybridge's "Zoöpraxiscope"
projects the world's first moving pictures.
1882 - Oscar Wilde Visits San Francisco.
1882 - U.S. Congress passes Chinese Exclusion Act.
1886 - Construction unions form Building Trades Council.
10,000 workingman parade.
1887 - William Randolph Hearst becomes owner of San
1888 - Examiner publishes E.L. Thayer's Casey At
1898 - Arnold Genthe photographs Chinatown.
1890 - John McLaren becomes Superintendent of Golden
Gate Park; stays 53 years.
1892 - Sierra Club founded in San Francisco; John Muir
is first president.
1894 - Midwinter Exposition, Golden Gate Park.
1895 - Fremont Older becomes editor of old San Francisco
1895 - James D. Phelan elected Mayor.
1895 - Arnold Genthe begins photographing Chinatown.
1895 - Donaldina Cameron joins Presbyterian Mission,
920 Sacramento Street; rescues Chinese girls from prostitution.
1896 - First automobile in San Francisco.
1898 - Ferry Building opens.
1899 - Frank Norris publishes McTeague.
1900 - First case of bubonic plague reported in Chinatown.
1901 - Teamster - Waterfront strike.
1901 - Eugene Schmitz elected Mayor.
1902 - Frank Norris publishes The Octopus.
1903 - President Theodore Roosevelt visits San Francisco.
Mayor Eugene Schmitz, at a dinner in the Palace Hotel, gives
a speech second only to that of Roosevelt himself.
1903 - Pacific Coast League formed.
1904 - A.P. Giannini starts Bank of America.
1905 - Architect Daniel Burnham proposes redesign of
1906 - April 17th: Enrico Caruso sings role of Don
Jose in Carmen.
1906 - Great Earthquake and Fire of April 18th destroys
much of residential San Francisco, and virtually all of the
commercial and retail structure.
1906 - Board of Education creates segregated Oriental
schools; President Roosevelt intervenes, order is rescinded.
1906 - Graft Prosecution indicts Mayor Schmitz and
Boss Abraham Ruef for extortion.
1907 - Board of Supervisors implicates Ruef in briberies;
Ruef pleads guilty to extortion; Schmitz convicted; Edward
R. Taylor appointed Mayor.
1907 - September 7- the French chateau Cliff House
1907 - Strike by Car Men's Union against the United
Railroads; one of the most violent urban strikes in history;
United Railroads President Patrick Calhoun, facing trial for
bribing Supervisors, is considered a hero; acquitted.
1907 - Albert Michelson, graduate of city's Lowell
High, is first American Nobel Prize winner, for Physics.
1908 - Bubonic plague reappears. Marine physician Dr.
Rupert Blue enlists the city's elite in a campaign to catch,
examine, and eliminate plague-carrying rats.
1908 - Graft prosecutor Heney shot in court. His assailant
shot dead in cell. Police Chief Biggy disappears in bay; his
body found two weeks later.
1908 - Arrival of the Atlantic Fleet May 6, for 2 months
of civic celebration. Fleet continued it's around the world
tour July 7.
1909 - October 19 - 23 - Portola Festival celebrates
the rebuilding of the City with parades and festivities.
1909 - San Francisco Seals win first league championship.
1909 - P.H. McCarthy elected Mayor; Graft Prosecution
1910 - September 8 - 10 - Native Sons & Native
Daughters of the Golden West stage a huge Admission Day celebration.
1910 - 100, 000 people assemble near Lotta's Fountain
to hear Louisa Tetrazzini sing her tribute to San Francisco
on Christmas eve.
1910 - San Francisco voters pass bond issue to dam
river in Sierra Nevada Mountains for water supply; John Muir,
Sierra Club, oppose it.
1911 - Editor Fremont Older, who had fought to have
boss Abe Ruef jailed, began campaign to have him released.
1911 - January 31 - San Francisco gets the word from
Congress it can host the Panama Pacific International Exposition
1911 - October 14 - President Taft turns the ceremonial
spade of earth at the Stadium in Golden Gate Park for the
1912 - Chinese Slave Girl Plot Broken Up.
1913 - October 22 - 25 - Portola Festival linked with
Balboa's Discovery the
Pacific Ocean in 1513.
1913 - Raker Bill, giving San Francisco authority to
damn Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park, is passed
by United States Congress.
1915 - February 20 - Opening Day of the Panama-Pacific
International Exposition (PPIE). Fair closes December 4 after
nine months of great fun and pageantry.
1916 - Preparedness Day Bombing.
1917 - Fremont Older's Bulletin campaigns on
behalf of prostitutes.
1927 - Idaho-born prodigy Philo Farnsworth successfully
transmits a television image electronically in laboratory
on Green Street.
1933 - Construction begins on Golden Gate Bridge.
1934 - July 5th, "Black Thursday;" police
shoot two men dead during International Longshoremen and Warehouseman's
Union strike; general strike follows.
1935 - San Francisco Museum of Art (later Museum of
Modern Art) opens.
1936 - San Francisco Bay Bridge opens; carries motor
vehicles and Key System trains.
1937 - Joe Di Maggio goes to New York Yankees after
setting batting records for the San Francisco Seals.
1938 - John Shelley runs for State Senate.
1939 - Golden Gate International Exposition opens
on Treasure Island. Runs two years.
1941 - Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, bombed by Japanese. Men
and materiel begin pouring through San Francisco to the Pacific
theatre of war.
1942 - American citizens of Japanese descent are "relocated"
to concentration camps.
1945 - Japan surrenders. Victory party in San Francisco
turns into riots.
1947 - Friedel Klussman organizes ballot initiative
to save the cable cars after Mayor Lapham tries to get rid
of them. Initiative passes overwhelmingly.
1954 - Joe Di Maggio and Marilyn Monroe are married
at City Hall
1957 - Worst earthquake since 1906.
1969 - American Indians occupy Alcatraz Island.
1974 - William Randolph Hearst's granddaughter Patricia
is kidnapped by radical terrorists. Joins captors, participates
in bank robbery.
1978 - Supervisor Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone
1981 - Strange lesions noticed among gay San Francisco
men. AIDS epidemic begins.
1982 - 49ers win the first of several Super Bowls
under Head Coach Bill Walsh.
1989 - Loma Prieta Earthquake kills over 60 in Bay
Area, damages the Central and Embarcadero freeways.
1992 - Embarcadero Freeway is razed. Plans formed
for a new plaza in front of the Ferry Building.
1995 - 100th Anniversary of radio in San Francisco.
1995 - "F" Market-Castro Streetcar line begins.
1996 - Herb Caen writes that he has inoperable lung
cancer. Mayor Willie Brown declares "Herb Caen Day"
in San Francisco. Huge parade.
1997 - Herb Caen dies.
1997 - Linda McCartney produces "Summer of Love"
1999 - Hearst Corporation buys the San Francisco Chronicle
from the heirs of Michael de Young, divests itself of the
Examiner. Spinning sound from Hearst's and de Young's graves.