Wednesday, January 27, 2010

10. San Francisco History.

Scenes shot from a streetcar in SF in 1905. Music by Air...funny how a modern song fits this film so well.

Um, hi. Remember me? You probably forgot that I exist considering I've been missing for 2 weeks now. This blogging thing must be like going to the miss a few days and it's hell getting back (and you don't even want to hear how long it's been since I was at the gym).

Alison over at Lipstick on Your Teeth thankfully called me out and gave me an assignment. It's my turn to tell you 10 things that make me happy. And since I'm currently in the business of getting as many posts out of as little content as possible, I'll only be posting one at a time. It might be cheating, but at least I know what the next 10 posts will be. Well, sort of. I'm going to try to do this without mentioning ampersands, collage or typography. Ugh. Now on with the show...

10. San Francisco History
I've always been a fan of history, but usually leaned toward history primarily dealing with art. Thanks to Chris' recent injection of San Francisco history into his art (like our little train project), I've been learning more about it. It's so ridiculously interesting. We've totally started dorking out on it. For example, last night, we went to hear a lecture at this incredibly old San Francisco institution, the Mechanics' Institute. With a room full of septuagenarians and their glasses of wine (yes, they serve wine with their lectures! old people still want to party), we listened to SF native Charles Fracchia discuss his book, When the Water Came up to Montgomery Street, and the growth of San Francisco during the Gold Rush.

Let me reference my notes for some interesting tidbits (yes, I took notes. I did say dorking out).
  • Did you know that before the Gold Rush, San Francisco only had about 800 residents? It's estimated that 350,00 - 500,000 people migrated to California from 1848-1859.
  • There was a period in 1849 when the population of San Francisco doubled every ten days.
  • Prior to the 1906 earthquake and the subsequent fire that destroyed the city, San Francisco had already had 6 fires that virtually destroyed the city.
  • If you've visited San Francisco, the Embarcadero area and much of South of Market were not here 150 years ago. Those areas are all built on land fill, sand and debris from fires and the 1906 earthquake.

Map of San Francisco from 1849 and one from now. Click to see it bigger.

My favorite tidbit of the night was due to an epiphany Charles had about the unique nature of the City. If you've lived here or visited, there really is something magical about San Francisco. There's an air of limitless potential, hopefulness and inclusivity that you don't find many other places. Charles realized that it's probably due to the way the city was built. It was one of the only cities in modern history that's diverse population came together all at once. During the Gold Rush, people came from all over the world. Within a year, San Francisco already had immigrants from China, Japan, South America, Malaysia and Mexico as well as people of Italian, Irish, German and other heritages. Granted, other cities are just as diverse, but none had it happen virtually over night. Since it's inception, San Francisco has opened its arms to everyone and I love that you still feel that to this day. better hope I'm never away for a month or you will have a novel to read.


  1. This is really interesting. I'm glad you dorked out on it because I just learned some new stuff! Looking forward to 9 -1.

  2. i kinda sorta love vintage maps like that :)

  3. Glad to see you back. You just totally make me want to visit San Fran even more -- I love history!

  4. It has been exactly one month since I've been to the gym. *le sigh...*

    And hey, neat, I didn't know that about the excess land/embarcadero area!

  5. If I hadn't majoring in English I would have majoring in History. Its oh so interesting to see how things came to be what they are now.


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