San Francisco, the chief city of California (in law, the city and county of San Francisco), the principal commercial emporium. on the Pacific coast of America, in lat. 37° 46' N., lon. 122° 24' W. It is situated at the N. end of a peninsula, which is 30 m. long and 6 m. across at the city, and separates San Francisco bay from the Pacific ocean. The area within the political district is 42 sq. m., of which considerable portions are drifting sand and rocky hills, rising in several points to an elevation of 800 ft. Goat island, Alcatraz island, and Mission rock in the bay, and the Farallon islands in the ocean, 30 m. off, also belong to the city and county. The city stands on the E. slope and at the base of high hills. In 1846 these hills were steep and cut up by numerous gullies, and the low ground at their base was narrow, save in what is now the S. part of the city, where there was a succession of hills of loose, barren sand, impassable for loaded wagons. In front of the town of Yerba Buena, as it was called previous to 1847, was a cove extending 1/2 m. into the land and 1 m. wide between the projecting points of land known as Clark's point and Rincon point. Along the front line of this cove the water was 40 ft. deep, and around its edges there were mud flats which were bare at low tide.
The sand ridges have been cut away, the gullies and hollows filled up, the hills cut down, and the cove filled in; and where large ships rode at anchor in 1849 are now paved streets. The country around the city is bare, with no trees and little fertile land within 20 m. The greater part of the peninsula is hilly and unfit for cultivation. There is but one road leading out of the city. The business streets are built up densely, but beyond that the houses are scattered at considerable intervals, and the settled part of the city may be said to cover an area of 9 sq. m. In the N. E. corner of the city is Telegraph hill, 294 ft. high; in the S. E. corner Rincon hill, 120 ft.; and on the W. side Russian hill, 360 ft. The densely settled streets are in the amphitheatre formed by the three hills. On account of the hills, some of which have been entirely cut down, the city has been laid off in different surveys not uniform with each other in the size of the blocks or the course of the streets; but in each survey, with rare exceptions, the streets are straight and cross each other at right angles.
The principal retail shops are in Kearny, Market, and Montgomery streets, which are the most fashionable promenades; the banks and brokers' offices are in California street; the importers and jobbers are in Front, Sansome, and Battery streets; the principal fashionable residences are in Van Ness avenue, Pine street hill, and Taylor, Bush, Sutter, Post, Geary, and O'Far-rell streets; and the Chinese quarter comprises portions of Sacramento, Commercial, Dupont, Pacific, and Jackson streets. The busiest streets are paved with Belgian block and cobble stones, and most of the residence streets are planked. The city is supplied with gas made from imported coal, and water is brought from Pilarcitos creek near the base of the peninsula, by a conduit 30 m. long; the supply at present is about 20,000,000 gallons a day. In February, 1875, there were in the city 23,-700 buildings, of which 4,300 were of brick; the remainder were of wood, with the exception of perhaps half a dozen of adobe and as many of stone.
The buildings erected in 1874 numbered 1,389, and cost $9,344,000. The most notable buildings are the Palace hotel, Nevada bank, bank of California, merchants' exchange, Safe Deposit bank, Lick house, Occidental hotel, Grand hotel, Cosmopolitan hotel, custom house, mint, mercantile library, California theatre, grand opera house, a new theatre not yet named, and the unfinished city hall. James Lick, a pioneer citizen, has given his property, valued at several million dollars, to trustees with instructions to erect various institutions that will contribute to science, art, and philanthropy, as well as ornament the city. The Palace hotel, the largest building of the kind in the world and the most complete in its appointments, is 275 by 350 ft. on the ground, nine stories high (counting two below the level of the street), can accommodate 1,200 guests, and cost with land and furniture $3,250,000. The Occidental and Cosmopolitan hotels can each accommodate 400, the Lick house 350, and the Grand hotel 300. In the S. part of the city, 3 m. from the city hall, are the buildings of the old mission of San Francisco. The main structure is the church, built of adobe in 1778. Four miles W. of the city hall, and on the S. shore of the Golden Gate or entrance to the bay, is Fort point, the chief defence of the entrance, which is there 1 m. wide.
Alcatraz island, which contains another fortification, commanding both the entrance and the city, is 2 m. N. of the city hall. Although the city is on a sandy, rocky, treeless peninsula, with a site so ill fitted by nature for its present purposes that $50,000,000 have been spent in grading, still it has much attractive scenery in its vicinity. The Golden Gate park contains 1,043 acres, and the Lone Mountain cemetery has in many respects no superior. Bridges each a mile long span Mission and Islais coves. The climate is peculiar. The mean temperature of January is 49°, and of July 57°. Furs are often seen in the streets in August, and snow is never seen in December. People go to San Francisco from the interior of the state to escape from the heat of summer, and the number of days so warm that the shade is necessary for comfort does not exceed a dozen in a year. As severe frost is unknown, tropical and subtropical plants need no shelter. The people are ruddier and stouter than Americans generally. - The growth of San Francisco has been unprecedented.
In 1846 the population was 600; in the spring of 1848, when the gold fever broke out, it was 1,000; in 1852 a state census reported 34,870; the federal census in 1860 gave 56,802, but there were probably 70,000; according to the federal census of 1870 there were then 149,473; and in February, 1875, the number was estimated by local authorities at 230,000. Included in the last number were 83,956 white males over 21 years of age, 44,000 white females over 18, 43,573 white males under 21, 37,804 white females under 18, 19,000 Chinese, and 1,800 colored persons. In 1874, according to the city school census, there were 60,552 persons under 17 years of age, and of these 35,000 were between 6 and 17; 40,056 were born of foreign parents, 12,-230 of native parents, and 5,956 of mixed parentage. In 1870, according to the census, half the inhabitants were foreign, of whom 36 per cent. were Irish, 14 per cent. German, 13 per cent. Chinese, 9 per cent. English and Welsh, and 6 per cent. French, and the rest Scandinavians, Dalmatians, Spanish Americans. etc.
Of the natives, 50 per cent., mostly children, were born in California, 16 per cent. in New York, 10 per cent. in Massachusetts, 3 per cent. in Maine, and some in every other state of the Union. There are German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Chinese newspapers, and Irish, German, French, Italian, Spanish American, Scandinavian, Dalmatian, Swiss, Dutch, and Chinese benevolent societies. - The only railroad terminating within the city limits is the Southern Pacific; the Central Pacific terminates at Oakland on the E. side of San Francisco bay, and the California Pacific and San Francisco and North Pacific lines terminate on San Pablo bay N. of the city. Ferry steamers ply to these points. There are eight street railroads, with 45 m. of track. About 50 ocean steamers run from the port in regular lines to Japan, Australia, Panama, Mexico, Victoria, and domestic ports in Oregon and California, and a score of light steamers to various ports on the inland waters that have their outlet at the Golden Gate. In 1874 San Francisco exported $30,000,000 of treasure, including $20,000,000 to New York, $8,000,000 to China, $437,000 to Central America, $400,000 to Peru, $184,000 to England, and $41,000 to Japan. The merchandise exports by sea in the same period were valued at $27,000,000, including $16,000,000 to Great Britain, $1,668,-000 to China, $690,000 to Japan, $1,000,000 to Mexico, $453,000 to Central America, $340,-000 to Peru, $450,000 to the Hawaiian islands, $290,000 to the Society islands, $382,000 to Australia, $137,000 to New Zealand, $693,000 to British Columbia, $560,000 to France, $339,-000 to Germany, $1,195,000 to Russian ports in Asia, and $196,000 to the East Indies. The value of the principal articles of export was as follows: wheat (500,000 tons), $14,-000,000; flour, $2,900,000; barley, $289,000; oats, $131,000; wines, $600,000; quicksilver, $711,000. There were also exported 18,000 tons of wool.
The imports by sea included 261,000,000 ft. of lumber, 18,000 boxes of candles, 60,000 barrels of cement, 37,000 tons of English coal, 139,000 tons of Australian coal, 15,000 tons of Cumberland coal, 51,000 tons of Vancouver island coal, 11,000,000 lbs. of coffee, 34,000,000 lbs. of rice, 8,000,000 lbs. of tea, 71,000,000 lbs. of sugar, 355,000 fire brick, 28,000 boxes of fresh Oregon apples, 16,000 boxes of raisins, 214,000 kegs of nails, 305,000 cases of coal oil, and 34,000 cases, 8,000 baskets, and 15,000 casks (various sizes) of wine. The imports by rail were also large, and included some of the same classes of articles. The number of sea-going vessels that arrived was 4,204, with an aggregate measurement of 1,553,000 tons, of which nearly half came from Europe and New York. The sum of $7,898,000 was paid for federal duties, and $2,488,000 for internal revenue duties. The coinage was $27,000,000. The sales of mining stock in the board of brokers amounted to $260,000,000, and of real estate within the limits of the city to $23,000,000. The site and some other circumstances of the city are unfavorable to manufacturing industry, but in the matter of climate and Chinese population, and in some other points, it has great advantages; and it has many important manufacturing establishments, including woollen and silk mills, and manufactories of watches, carriages, boots, furniture, candles, acids, soap, wire work, castings of iron and brass, and silver ware.
San Francisco is the centre of great wealth and the home of many millionaires. Many of the mines of gold, silver, quicksilver, and coal, the deposits of borax and sulphur, the quarries of granite, marble, trap, slate, and steatite, the mining and irrigating ditches, the railways and macadamized roads, the quartz mills and saw mills, the vineyards, farms, orchards, and ranchos, from Arizona to Idaho, and from the Pacific to the Rocky mountains, are owned here. The wealth of the city probably amounts to $500,000,000; the assessed value of the property within its limits is about half that sum. The capital and deposits of the savings banks are $55,000,000, and of the commercial banks $25,000,000. The city owes much of its prosperity to the Comstock lode in Nevada, which pays about $12,000,000 of annual dividends, and yields a considerable profit also upon the sales of mining stock, in which people from all parts of the coast speculate. - San Francisco is governed by a mayor and a board of supervisors of 12 members (one from each ward), elected for two years. The members of the board of education (one from each ward) are also elected biennially. The regular police force consists of 150 men.
There is a paid fire department, with 11 steam engine companies, 5 hose companies, 3 hook and ladder companies, and a fire-alarm telegraph. The annual expenditures of the city government are $3,500,000, including $650,000 for schools, $400,000 for interest and sinking fund of the debt, $229,000 for street lights, $224,-000 for the fire department, $190,000 for the police, and as much more for the hospital. The entire debt is $4,162,000, less relatively than that of any other large American city. The taxation for city and state purposes in 1874 amounted to $5,543,000. Among the charitable institutions are the United States marine hospital, the city hospital, the pest house, the almshouse (all government institutions), the woman's hospital, the lying-in hospital, and the hospitals of the sisters of mercy and of the French and German benevolent societies. There are 87 benevolent societies meeting openly, besides numerous secret societies that are at least partially benevolent in character. The public schools accommodate 30,000 pupils in regular attendance.
The mercantile library has 40,000 volumes, the mechanics' institute library 30,000, the odd fellows' library 25,-000, and the law library 15,000. There are an academy of sciences, a school of design, two medical colleges, and three academic institutions. The number of newspapers and periodicals is 75, viz.: 11 daily, 1 tri-weekly, 2 semi-weekly, 40 weekly, 1 bi-weekly, 2 semi-monthly, and 18 monthly. Of churches, the Methodists, Presbyterians, and Catholics have each 13; the Baptists, Episcopalians, and Lutherans each 7; the Congregationalists and Jews each 5; the Swedenborgians 2; and the Unitarians and Universalists each 1. In seven the German language is used, and the Russian, French, Spanish, and Swedish in one each. - The mission of San Francisco de Asis, frequently called the mission Dolores, was founded Oct. 9, 1776, by two Franciscan monks, Francisco Palou and Benito Cambon, natives of Spain. Their establishment grew, and in 1825 it had 76,000 head of neat cattle, 79,000 sheep, 3,000 horses, 18,000 bushels of wheat and barley, merchandise worth $35,000, $25,000 in cash, and about 1,800 Indians. For 58 years the missionaries had complete control of the mission, and it prospered without interruption until in 1834 the missions of California were secularized and given over to civil officers.
Their downfall was then most rapid, and in a few years nothing remained save the adobe buildings. One of the first effects of the new policy of secularizing the missions, placing the country under the control of the civil powers, and encouraging colonization, was the establishment of the village of Yerba Buena, near the present site of the city hall. The first house was erected in 1835, and others followed slowly. The first survey of streets and town lots was made in 1839. A small trade was done in exporting hides, selling wheat to the Russians, furnishing supplies to whalers, and trading with the rancheros in the neighborhood. Very few vessels entered the harbor. In midsummer of 1846 an American man-of-war took possession of the place in the name of the United States. The town was known only as Yerba Buena until Jan. 30, 1847, when the ayuntamiento or town council changed it to San Francisco. On the discovery of gold in the spring of 1848 the town was deserted by many of its inhabitants from June to October; but the return of the adventurers in the autumn, the arrival of others from abroad, the increase of shipping, the abundance of money, and the profits of trade soon built up a city, and in 1849 San Francisco had become a great centre of commerce.
But the houses were crowded together and built of combustible materials, and several great fires occurred; the first was on Dec. 24, 1849, when the estimated loss was $1,000,000; the next on May 4, 1850, loss $3,000,000; the third on June 14 of the same year, loss $3,000,000; the fourth on May 2, 1851, loss $7,000,000; the fifth on June 22, 1851, loss $2,000,000. Yet these fires scarcely interrupted the prosperity of the place. It continued to grow rapidly until January, 1854, when, in consequence of over speculation in land, of a decline in the gold yield, and of the temporary decrease of shipping (the last the result of the home production instead of the importation of food), the business of the city became less profitable. The title to much of the land was in litigation; many houses were unoccupied; and the depression did not cease till August, 1858, when a new era of prosperity began, and the growth of the city has since been steady, notwithstanding a real estate panic, which, following immoderate expectations of the benefits to accrue from the Pacific railroad, began in May, 1869, and lasted four years.
The city was incorporated in 1850, and the city and county were consolidated in 1856. In 1851 and 1856, in consequence of bad municipal government and corrupt administration of the criminal laws, the people organized vigilance committees, and executed several criminals. (See California).
New City Hall.