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Timeline of San Francisco History

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San Francisco timeline posters
Courtesy of Ralston Independent Works

(Prepared by John C. Ralston
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From 1500 to 1925

From 1925 to 1995


1579 - Sir Francis Drake anchors at Drake's Bay, Point Reyes.

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 elected alcalde.

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 performance.

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 James Casey.

1856 - Morning Call begins.

1857 - Engineer Theodore Judah surveys railroad route linking California with eastern US.

1858 - Overland stage begins between San Francisco and East.

1859 - Justice David Terry kills Senator David Broderick in duel.

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 Cable Car.

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 Francisco Examiner.

1888 - Examiner publishes E.L. Thayer's Casey At The Bat.

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 Bulletin.

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 city.

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 completely burns.

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 ends.

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 in 1915.

1911 - October 14 - President Taft turns the ceremonial spade of earth at the Stadium in Golden Gate Park for the PPIE.

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 are assassinated.

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" exhibit.

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.



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