|1776 to 1859|
|1860 to 1879|
|1880 to 1897|
|1860||First Pony Express rider arrives in San Francisco.
The first tongs -- the Hop Sings and the Suey Sings -- are organized as mutual benefit associations by Chinese laborers in the gold fields near Marysville.
Workmen begin laying track for the Market Street Railroad.
San Francisco and Mission Railroad opens.
Archbishop Alemany purchases part of Lone Mountain and consecrates it as Cavalry Cemetery.
Telegraph service to Los Angeles begins.
Abraham Lincoln narrowly wins the state's electoral votes.
|1861||Fort Point garrisoned.
Portrero Reservoir filled.
Unionists demonstrate after word of the firing on Fort Sumter reaches the City. Some form volunteer companies to defend the state against Confederate attack.
The Times runs an expose on the activities of Shanghai gangs in the City. It reveals the involvement of city officials who deny honest shipmasters crews if they do not work with the Shanghaiers. The series describes how crews are driven like slave labor off one ship and immediately onto another, over the protests of the captain.
The Committee of Thirty unsuccessfully petitions General Albert Sidney Johnston to turn over all the forts and weapons in the West to the South. Though Johnston resigns his command to join the Southern cause, he refuses to join in the conspiracy.
Completion of the overland telegraph makes the Pony Express unnecessary.
Johnny Devine, also known as the Shanghai Chicken, becomes a fixture on the San Francisco waterfront.
|1862||Belle Cora dies.
Colonel J.H. Carleton's California Column defeats a Confederate invasion force at Pichaco Pass, Arizona, and moves into Texas.
Slavery becomes illegal in U.S. territories.
Pacific Railroad Bill passes, promising the people of California quick overland transportation to the east.
San Franciscans mistakenly celebrate a Union victory at the Second Battle of Bull Run. Generous citizens contribute heavilly to a relief fund for sick and wounded Union Army soldiers.
The absence of a Southern delegation makes it possible for the Congress to decide on a north-central route for the transcontinental railroad. Abraham Lincoln signs the Pacific Railroad Act.
San Franciscans found an "Anti-Coolie Club" which promotes anti-Chinese feeling and lobbies for restrictive immigration quotas.
Direct telegraphic communication between New York and San Francisco established.
|1863||Construction of the Central Pacific Railroad begins.
Sagebrush War. Isaac Roop, previous champion of a Territory of Nataqua, declares that northeastern California is part of Nevada. He holes up in his Susanville cabin (which he calls Fort Defiance) until an armistice is drawn up, placing Susanville in California.
Governor Leland Stanford lays the cornerstone for the Broderick Memorial in Lone Mountain Cemetery.
The M.J. Chapman is captured in San Francisco Bay. Five of its crew are arrested as privateers.
Italian fishermen and workers for the Farallone Egg Company do battle over the Farallone island rookeries. One man is killed and five others are wounded.
Railroad and ferry connection with Oakland inaugarated.
The first Cliff House opens.
California Governor Leland Stanford calls for discouraging Chinese immigration by every legitimate means. Stanford's sincerity comes into question when it is revealed that his railroad is importing thousands of Chinese laborers to build the Central Pacific route through the Sierra Nevada.
The Russian Fleet visits the City, both to express the Czar's support for the Union cause and to allow the fleet to dock in an ice-free port.
San Francisco and San Jose railroad begins service.
Telegraph cable is stretched across the Golden Gate.
Fortification of Angel Island begun.
Blacks allowed to testify against whites in California courts.
"Mark Twain" makes his first appearance in western newspapers.
|1864||Stable grooms strike for higher wages.
San Francisco and San Jose Railroad completed.
Thomas Starr King dies.
Vessels entering the port of San Francisco are prohibited from passing to the north of Alcatraz. Violators are warned that they will be fired upon.
National Freedmen's Association organized in the City.
State legislation prohibits Sunday performances.
A gale destroys 300 feet of Meigg's Wharf.
|1865||California ratifies the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery.
Fire alarm and police telegraph system established.
Odd Fellows dedicate a cemetery on Point Lobos Road.
Hostelers strike for higher wages.
The Pacific Museum of Anatomy and Science, a thinly disguised peep show, acquires "Joaquin Murietta's" head. It remains on display there for 41 years.
Southern Pacific Railroad is founded.
Mark Twain begins residence in San Francisco.
A competitive race between three volunteer fire companies turns to violence as members of each company try to prevent the others from arriving first to a fire. Several dozen men suffer gunshots, bruises, wounds, and broken bones. The incident prompts the State Legislature to authorize paid fire departments.
Heyday of Miss Piggot and Mother Bronson, a pair of boarding house Shanghai queens and tavern keepers.
A nitroglycerine explosion wrecks the Wells Fargo and Company Express office.
The Union State Central Committee meets in San Francisco, adopting strong resolutions promoting equal rights for all men without reference to color.
Journeyman plasterers demand the eight hour day.
Professional firemen begin service.
|1867||Black San Franciscans celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Emancipation
Bricklayers win the eight hour day.
The Schah Jehan runs onto the rocks of the bay and is lost. Her crew is saved.
Angry laborers drive off Chinese working on excavating a Townsend Street lot and at the Tubbs and Company rope works. Many Chinese homes are burned. In subsequent days, anti-coolie clubs are formed.
The Pacific Mail steamship Colorado returns from her maiden voyage to China and Japan.
First steamer service to Alaska.
Workingmen demonstrate in favor of the eight hour day.
A cannon explodes at Fort Point, killing two men.
Blasting of Telegraph Hill to procure rock for a seawall begins.
A terrific gale soaks and wrecks most of the state.
Sam's Grill opens at the California Market.
|1868||The H.L. Rutgers is wrecked off Point Bonita.
A storm sinks the sloop John Stillson with its 80 ton cargo of wheat while berthed at San Francisco.
The British bark Oliver Cutts becomes another victim of the year's inclement weather.
The California Legislature mandates the Eight Hour Day.
Labor Day is celebrated on 21 February.
The British ship Viscota is wrecked off Point Lobos.
Four major earthquakes shake the city. The last of these will be the largest tremor in San Francisco history until 1906.
A gang of hoodlums drag a Chinese crab catcher beneath a wharf where they rob him, beat him with a hickory club, branded him in several places with a hot iron, and then slit his ears and tongue.
The Shanghai Chicken and his partner Johnny Nyland go on a shooting and knifing spree. Several men are wounded, but none seriously. The spree is ended when Billy Maitland enters Billy Lewis's saloon and throws Nyland out. When the Shanghai Chicken aims at pistol at Maitland, the bouncer cuts off the Chicken's hand and throws him out onto the street. The Chicken replaces his hand with a metal hook.
Hoodlum leader James or "Butt" Riley arrives in the city and becomes one of the Barbary Coast's legendary figures. The handsome Riley is popular with waiter girls and prostitutes, to whom he sells nude pictures.
The Young Men's Christian Association is constructed.
Mark Twain bids San Francisco farewell. His job as the "Town Crier" is filled by a bitter, young Civil War Veteran named Ambrose Bierce.
San Franciscans welcome the staff of the Chinese Embassy with a grand banquet and a tour of the city's fortifications.
Construction crews use several tons of powder to drill a tunnel at Lime Point.
A heavy fog shrouds much of the state in September.
A four hour long meteor shower attracts the attention of skywatchers mid-November.
Smallpox cases on the rise. 350 fatal cases are reported this year.
The Big Four (Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker) gains controlling interest in the Oakland Waterfront Company. This gives them control over the main access routes into the San Francisco Bay.
The Burlingame Treaty establishes the right of Chinese to free immigration.
Hell's Kitchen and Dance Hall opens its doors. It celebrates its first Christmas with a free-for-all fight in which several men are injured.
|1869||The completion of the transcontinental railroad is celebrated with
the driving (and immediate retrieval) of several golden spikes at Promontory
Point, Utah. First westbound train arrives at Alameda in September.
Frederick Marriot demonstrates his dirigible, Avitor Hermes Jr. at Shell Mound Park in the East Bay.
A train from Boston brings the first transcontinental shipment, consisting of boots and shoes. A few days later, another train heads east with a shipment of tea bound for Chicago.
First shipment of fresh oysters from Baltimore arrives in October.
The 1864 legislation prohibiting Sunday theatrical performances is repealed, giving rise to a new era of spectacle.
The Shanghai Chicken serves a year in jail for larceny.
An expose by The Call compels authorities to prohibit the employment of women in melodeons, music halls, and concert saloons. No effort is made to enforce the ordinance.
Emperor Norton commands that bridges be built spanning San Francisco Bay. The bridges are ordered to be built from Oakland to Goat Island and thence to Tiburon and out to the Farallones.
Bret Harte's "The Outcasts of Poker Flat"
|1870||The anti-Chinese Industrial Reformers organize.
Golden Gate Park is established by state and municipal legislation.
First Federal Civil Rights Act.
Bret Harte's The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Sketches
Rivalry between Chinese cigar makers explodes into an open fight on Battery Street.
A city ordinance prohibits the carrying of baskets attached to poles laid across the shoulders.
The Board of Supervisors prohibits the rental of sleeping rooms which contain less than 500 cubic feet of air per person.
|1871||The California Women's Suffrage Society meets for the first time.
A huge flock of birds darkens the skies over the west side of the City.
An evening school for Chinese is denied funds. It becomes impossible for Chinese San Franciscans to obtain an education for the next fourteen years.
The Board of Supervisors adopts William Hammond Hall's design for Golden Gate Park.
The Shanghai Chicken shoots a German sailor. When he is discovered aboard the steamer Wilson G. Hunt by Patrolman John Coulter, he is wearing his victim's cap. Devine predicts that he will be hung for the murder. He is.
Los Angeles mobs attack Chinese laborers, killing twenty.
San Francisco Art Institute established.
Blossom Rock is removed as a hazard to navigation.
John Jordan shoots hoodlum James Riley in the chest. Riley survives, but his reputation and health suffers as a result.
Construction begins on a new City Hall.
|1872||Committee of One Hundred organized to oppose giving Goat Island to
Police force increased to 150 patrolmen.
A pair of miners trick banker William Ralston into investing in a nonexistent diamond mine. The Great Diamond Hoax contributes to Ralston's ruin.
Modoc War begins.
Asians and American Indians win the right to testify against whites in California courts.
The Bohemian Club is founded by a pack of young artists and writers.
Mark Twain, Roughing It.
Hercules Powder Works blows up.
|1873||First post cards appear in the City. The Emperor Norton becomes a popular
The Chinese Six Companies wires Hong Kong requesting that emigration to San Francisco be stopped.
Andrew Hallidie runs the first cable car up Clay Street.
The Presbyterians organize the Oriental Board, which they dedicate to helping Chinese women enslaved in the bagnios.
The state legislature once again outlaws gambling, but the casinos continue to operate behind closed doors.
|1874||Railway conductors and drivers on the Bay View and Potrero Railroad
Chronicle publisher Gustavus de Young exchanges shots with F.R. Fitzgerald of the Sun.
A huge mass meeting is convened to denounce the Chinese. The assembly calls for the immediate ejection of the Chinese from California. The Chinese Six Companies petitions President Grant, declaring their loyalty to the United States and their many positive contributions to the American economy.
Professor Allen takes several citizens for balloon rides over Woodward's Gardens.
The French Mail balloon Le Secours arrives, commanded by Captain Barbiere.
The balloon America narrowly escapes destruction after a miscalculation during its descent from an altitude of 3000 feet.
Fire on Alcatraz.
The new U.S. Mint opens in the South of Market.
Heyday of the melodeons. Artistes of this time include the Galloping Cow, her sister the Dancing Heifer, the Roaring Gimlet, the Waddling Duck, Lady Jane Grey, and the Little Lost Chicken.
The Northern Pacific Coast Railroad, from San Francisco to Tomales, starts its service via Sausalito.
Catholics meet to protest the expulsion of the Sisters of Charity from Mexico.
Bank of California magnate William Ralston accidentally drowns or commits suicide after financial opponents force a rush on his bank.
Low Sing, a member of the Suey Sing tong, is murdered while holding the hands of his lover, the crib courtesan Kum Ho. Ming Long of the Kwong Dock tong and noted assassin kills Low Sing because he considers Kum Ho to be his girl. Low Sing lives long enough to identify his killer. The Suey Sing declare war on the Kwong Dock. Ming Long is hunted by the Suey Sing, but manages to escape home to China.
The Six Companies estimates that there are 75,000 Chinese living in California. Most of these are males of working age.
The Three Lively Fleas are an erotic attraction at Madame Bertha's Sacramento Street parlor house.
Toby Rosenthal's painting Elaine is displayed at the galleries of Snow and May and immediately proclaimed a masterpiece.
The Pacific Stock Exchange opens.
Native Sons of the Golden West organize.
Actress Lotta Crabtree bestows a cast-iron monstrocity, thereafter known as Lotta's Fountain, on the people of San Francisco.
Miser James Lick turns philanthropist with a donation of a Market Street lot to the California Academy of Sciences.
The Palace Hotel opens.
|1876||Chinese laborers fight to retrieve their deposits on Dupont Street
(later Grant Avenue) when a shoe factory backs out of a contract.
The Chinese Six Companies petitions the Board of Supervisors for protection from the tongs.
The State of California begins mandatory licensing of doctors.
City jailers enforce a short hair policy by cutting off the queue of a Chinese convict.
The Board of Supervisors makes another token effort to bar women from working in concert saloons.
Jesuit scientist Father Joseph M. Neri demonstrates the electric light.
James Riley is convicted of house-breaking and sentenced to fifteen years in San Quentin.
A mysterious cigar-shaped craft is sighted over the City, shining its search lights on the deserted streets. Among the witnesses is Adolph Sutro.
Jeanne Bonnet, a cross-dresser known as the Little Frog Catcher, is found dead with a bullet in her heart. She has been leading a criminal gang of escaped brothel girls who refuse to sell their bodies, have nothing to do with men, and who make their living through shop-living and other petty thievery. Police suspect that Bonnet has been killed by the pimps whose girls she has taken.
Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children founded.
The Southern Pacific links San Francisco and Los Angeles by rail.
Charles de Young is assaulted by John Duane.
Fire at the Chinese Theater, Jackson Street.
Diptheria epidemic in latter part of the year.
|1877||Anti-coolie convention convenes. Denis Kearney later leads the "sandlot
riots" against the City's Chinese. The year is filled with violence
against the Chinese and those who would speak in their defense. William
T. Coleman organizes a "pick-handle brigade to defend the Chinese
from the Sandlotters. For this, his house is attacked. Kearney finally
abandons his violent campaign and organizes the Workingmen's Party of California.
State prison officials complain that Chinese labor, hiring out for 25 cents or less a day, is unfair competition with convict labor renting for 50 cents a day.
|1878||Happy Jack Harrington, proprietor of the Opera Comique, comes under
the influence of the Praying Band while drunk. He forsakes his business
for the Bible and a new restaurant. In a few weeks, however, he decides
to return to his evil ways and opens a new saloon.
Five hundred unemployed men march on City Hall and demand that the mayor give them work.
The Workingmen's Party holds its first state convention.
The Sutro Railroad to Land's End opens.
A U.S. District Court rules that Chinese are not eligible for citizenship.
Mark Hopkins dies.
The Galloping Cow saves enough money to open her own saloon. She makes sure that it is understood that she wants no bulls by her strength of character and forearm.
First San Francisco telephone book issued by the American Speaking Telephone Company.
David Douty Colton, a late-coming partner to the Southern Pacific Octupus (the half in the Big Four and A Half), arrives home in a state of total collapse. He dies two days later, at the age of 47. Officially the cause of death is a fall from a horse on his ranch, but persistant rumors crop up that Colton has been stabbed to death.
|1879||Collision of the ferryboats Alameda and El Capitan in
Jewish author's Salmi Morse's play The Passion, directed by David Belasco and starring James O'Neill as Christ, opens several days ahead of schedule to avoid censorship by municipal authorities. The production closes within a week after playgoers take to weeping and kneeling during performances.
The Chronicle stirs concern about the cancan. The Board of Supervisors outlaws its performance. Mabel Santley and her Rentz Troupe perform the dance in spite of the ban at the Standard Theater. Chronicle journalist Charles Warren Stoddard reports Ms. Santley's "immodest and indecent" terpsichordean exercise to the police. Santley is arrested, tried, convicted, and fined two hundred dollars. The cancan continues to be performed.
A U.S. District Court forbids city jailers to cut the queues of Chinese prisoners.
The State Constitution, ratified by voters in the spring, contains many anti-Chinese provisions.
Workingmen's Party nominates candidates for state and national legislative office.
San Francisco Public Library opens.
U.S. Grant visits the City and is entertained at the home of Comstock millionaire James Flood.
Charles de Young shoots Workingmen's Party mayoral candidate Isaac Kalloch, thus ensuring Kalloch's election that fall.
One of the few accurate pictures of life in a Chinese Opium Den. The local tourist industry went to the trouble to create fake opium dens complete with subterranean passages and knife-toting Chinese. Rumors of a vast networks of tunnels beneath Chinatown continued until 1906 when the earthquake levelled the neighborhood and revealed no such complex. Note the rounding of the Chinaman's face around the mouth. Such anthropoid caricatures were common during the latter half of the nineteenth century.
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