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San Francisco History

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History of San Francisco, California

The first documented European visit to San Francisco was in 1769, 10,000 to 20,000 years prior the Bay Area had been inhabited by Native Americans. When the first Europeans arrived they claimed the land for Spain. Seven years later they built a Spanish mission and a military fort.

In 1821, San Francisco became a part of Mexico. By 1846 it became territory of the United States. Also in 1846, 240 Mormon Pioneers from the East Coast arrived in the area. They were led by Sam Brannan. Three years later Brannan publicized gold discovery and the California Gold Rush began. Between 1848 and 1849, the population of San Francisco grew from 1,000 to 25,000.

San Francisco became the largest city west of the Mississippi up until 1920 when Los Angeles surpassed in size. The population boom included many from China who came looking for fortune. The Chinatown district was established and is still one of the largest in the nation today.

Many businesses were also founded at this time in order to support the population, Levi Strauss & Co., Ghirardelli Chocolate and Wells Fargo bank, to name a few. Many mansions from the time have now become expensive San Francisco hotels, including the Mark Hopkins Hotel and the Huntington Hotel.

In 1906 a devastating earthquake took place just offshore of San Francisco. Fires then followed, burning 80% of the city as well as killing 3,000+ people. Almost immediately after the disaster, plans were made to rebuild what was lost.

During World War II San Francisco was a major port for supplies. After the war many military personnel settled in the city.

During the 1950’s San Francisco used the phrase “Beatnik” to describe the many poets, thinkers and writers who flourished in the cafes, mainly in North Beach. By the 1960’s the Hippie Generation began. This generation thrived in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. Rock music was also influential at this time, Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead both came from the Bay Area.

During the 1980’s San Francisco became a focal point of North America. Full of comedy clubs, restaurants and large skyscrapers. During the 1980’s homeless people began appearing in large numbers. This continued to be a problem for many years and is still a problem today. By the 1990’s San Francisco boomed in technology. Many computer software professionals moved to the city. By 2001 the boom ended and many left the city.

By 2003 the economy recovered from the crash of the technology boom due to an increase in the tourist industry. In 2008 San Francisco had an estimated population of 808,997. It was the 12th most populated city in the US. Today San Francisco is again leading the way in new technology and is a popular city for tourists to visit.

San Francisco History Timeline

1769- First documented European visit to San Francisco- claimed by Spain

1821- San Francisco becomes part of Mexico

1846- San Francisco becomes U.S. territory

1848- California Gold Rush begins

1849- Population grows from 1,000 to 25,000

1850- California admitted to U.S. as a state

1906- San Francisco earthquake and fire

1936- San Francisco- Oakland Bay Bridge complete

1937- Golden Gate Bridge opens

1950s- “Beatnik” generation

1951- Treaty of San Francisco ends war with Japan

1967- “Summer of Love” – Hippie generation

1970s- Gay rights movement

1989- Loma Prieta earthquake in Bay Area

1990s- Dot-com boom

2001- Dot-com crash

2008- Population reaches 808,997