San Francisco History


3000 B.C.
Earliest known San Francisco burial: a 24-26 year old woman was found at the excavation of the Civic Center BART station in 1969.
1400 A.D.
Christopher Columbus set foot on the New World (12 Oct).
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed along the coast near San Francisco and discovered the Farallones (16 Nov).
Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeno landed in Drake's Bay, claimed the land for Spain, and named it Puerto de San Francisco (7 Nov).
Sir Francis Drake landed in Drake's Bay, claimed the land for England, and named it Nova Albion (17 June).
Sebastian Vizcaino anchored in Drake's Bay (8 Jan)
Britain and the colonies under its control adopted the Gregorian calendar.
French-Indian war began (3 July).
French-Indian war ended (16 Nov).
Scouts, including Jose Francisco Ortega, from a Spanish expedition lead by Don Gaspar de Portola discovered the Golden Gate (2 Nov).
The Revolutionary War between the American colonies and Britain officially began (19 Apr).
  Don Juan Manuel de Ayala, anchored the packet boat San Carlos, the first ship into San Francisco Bay, near Sausalito (5 Aug). Over the next month he completed the first survey of the bay. 
A small Spanish expedition lead by Juan Bautista de Anza reached the Presidio and surveyed the area (27 Mar).
A Spanish colonization party lead by Lieutenant Moraga reached the original site of Mission Dolores (27 June).
Father Francisco Palou offered the first mass at the original site of Mission Dolores (28 June).
United States of America declared its Independence from Britain (July 4).
The first non-native child, Francisco Josef de los Dolores Soto, son of Ygnacio de Soto and Maria Barbara Espinosa, was born at Mission Dolores (Aug).
The Presidio of San Francisco de Asis was officially dedicated (17 Sep).
The Mission of San Francisco de Asis was officially dedicated (9 Oct). The name eventually became the Mission de los Dolores de nuestro Padre San Francisco de Asis, and currently is referred to simply as Mission Dolores.
Revolutionary War was officially ended with the signing of The Treaty of Paris 1783, and the United States is recognized as a sovereign nation (3 Sep).
Continental Congress approved the Constitution and sends it to the states to have it ratified (17 Sep).
United States Congress adopted the Bill of Rights (containing the first ten Amendments) (15 Dec).
Current Mission Dolores (construction began in 1788) was dedicated (Aug 2).
Captain George Vancouver sailed into San Francisco Bay (14 Nov).
Beginning of the Mexican Independence from Spain (16 Sep).
Russian hunting station existed at the Farallones.
United States declared war on Britain, beginning the War of 1812 (18 June).
War of 1812 was officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent  (24 Dec).
Mexico was declared a independent state (17 Sep).
The new Pueblo of San Francisco held elections (7 Dec).
William Richardson received a grant of land in Yerba Buena (1 June).
American flag was raised for the first time in honor of Independence Day (4 July).
Rosalia Leese was the first non-native child born in Yerba Buena (15 Apr).
Jean Jacques Vioget completed a survey of Yerba Buena and laid out the first streets, twelve blocks in an area bounded by California and Montgomery streets and Pacific and Grant avenues.
Mexican-American War began with the Battle of Palo Alto (8 May).
United States declared war on Mexico (13 May).
Donner Party started their journey west (Spring).
Bear Flag Revolt in Sonoma, California (14 June).
United States took possession of that portion of California which includes San Francisco (7 July).
Captain John B. Montgomery hoisted the American flag in Portsmouth Square (9 July).
The Brooklyn sailed from New York and anchored near Yerba Buena with 240 Mormons on board (31 July).
The California Star became the first newspaper published in San Francisco by Samuel Brannan (7 Jan).
A relief party was sent from Yerba Buena to the aid of the Donner Party (Jan).
Yerba Buena name changed to San Francisco by an ordinance published in the California Star newspaper by Washington A. Bartlett, Chief Magistrate (30 Jan).
Jasper O'Farrell completed a survey of San Francisco (Bartlett's map), covering 800 acres extending to Leavenworth and Fourth streets.
John W. Marshall discovered gold at Sutter's Mill (24 Jan).
Mexican-American War ended with the signing of the Guadalupe Hidalgo treaty (2 Feb).
John C. Fremont named the Golden Gate (June).
President Polk delivers his address to the nation and mentions gold in California (5 Dec).
San Francisco citizens elected a Legislative Assembly (21 Feb). It was replaced by Military Governor of California Riley when he restored the Ayuntamiento of the Pueblo of San Francisco (5 June).
First regular police department established (13 Aug).
California residents voted to become part of the United States of America (11 Nov).
Beginning of the six Great Fires (24 Dec). The other five occurred on 4 May 1850, 14 June 1850, 17 September 1850, 4 May 1851, and 22 June 1851.
Yerba Buena Cemetery opened (Feb).
California Legislature created the original counties, including San Francisco (18 Feb). The original boundaries for San Francisco County extended southward to "the southeastern extremity of the southern arm of the Laguna de la Merced." It also included Angel Island until 1854. In 1856, San Mateo County was created from the southern portion of the old San Francisco County, and the southern boundary was set near the current line. The San Francisco County government established on 1 April.
California Legislature approved the City Charter of San Francisco. The 1850 City Charter established the following boundaries: on the south, a line parallel to Clay Street, two miles south from Portsmouth square; on the west, a line parallel to Kearny Street, one and a half miles from the square; on the north and est, the county limits (15 Apr).
Local run on banks (7 Sep).
California was the 31st state admitted to the Union (9 Sep).
San Francisco received first news of state admission (18 Oct).
Cholera epidemic (Oct-Dec).
William M. Eddy completed a survey of San Francisco (Second Official Map) and extended its limits to Larkin, Eighth, and Townsend streets.
First orphan asylum was created by the Protestants (31 Jan).
First Committee of Viligance organized (9 June - Oct).
Domingo Ghiradelli announced the opening of his chocolate company (15 June).
San Francisco Gas Company organized by Donahue brothers (Peter, Michael and James)  (31 August)
Russ Gardens, at Harrison and Sixth streets, opened (1 May).
  First electric telegraph used (between Merchant's Exchange and Point Lobos) (11 Sep).
Fortifications began on Alcatraz Island.
First branch of the U.S. Mint was opened on Commercial street, between Montgomery and Kearny.
Lone Mountain Cemetery dedicated (30 May)
Laurel Hill Cemetery dedicated (28 June).
Van Ness Ordinances approved to lay out streets west of Larkin Street and southwest of Johnson Street.
James King of William, Evening Bulletin editor, shot and killed (14 May).
Consolidation Act of 1856, combining the City and County of San Francisco went into effect (1 July).
San Mateo County was created from a southern portion of San Francisco County.
Second Committee of Vigilance organized (15 May - 18 Aug).
First California paper mill was established in Tomales Bay (1 Oct).
Stock Market Panic.
Citadel constructed on Alcatraz Island.
San Francisco Water Works organized (15 June).
Comstock Lode discovered near Virginia City, Nevada.
Joshua Abraham Norton (1819-1880) declared himself Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico (17 Sep).
Pony Express began service from St. Joseph, Missouri to San Francisco (3 Apr).
The Mission Street Railroad began operation (4 July).
Telegraph service between San Francisco and Los Angeles established (8 Oct).
Calvary Cemetery dedicated (8 Nov). 
New official city map created, including all of the additions of the 1856 Consolidation Act.
Alcatraz fort was designated as the official U.S. Army prison for the western states and territories.
The current Fort Point completed (15 Feb).
The Civil War began when Confederate forces assaulted Fort Sumter (12 Apr).
The Confederacy declared war on the Union (6 May).
Pony Express ceased operations 19 months after it began (Nov).
Homestead Act passed.
First escape attempt from Alcatraz.
Telegraph service between San Francisco and New York established (6 Nov).
The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Lincoln (1 Jan).
Central Pacific Railroad contruction began in Sacramento (8 Jan).
Lazarus, a famous, local dog died (Oct). Between 1861 and 1865, Bummer and Lazarus were well-known and newspaper articles were written about the pair. Their claim to fame was that they hunted rats which was a major problem at the time. Bummer later died in Nov 1865.
San Francisco Railroad (predecessor to CalTrain) opened for regular service to Palo Alto. Initial terminal at 18th and Valencia streets (Oct).
First Cliff House opened (15 Oct).
San Francisco Railroad line was completed to San Jose (16 Jan).
Mark Twain was a reporter for the San Francisco Daily Morning Call (June-Oct). He also later wrote travel articles for the Alta California between 1867 and 1869.
World's Horse Fair opened at the Bay View Park (2 Sep).
The Dramatic Chronicle, later changed to The Chronicle first published (1 Jan).
  Civil War ended when The Confederate States of America surrendered (9 Apr).
The Examiner first published (1 June).
Odd Fellow's Cemetery dedicated (19 Nov).
Woodward's Gardens opened.
Early Wednesday morning at 7:53 a.m., an earthquake (magnitude 7.0) occurred along the Hayward fault (21October).
Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railoads connected in Promontory, Utah, creating a transcontinental railroad (10 May).
Golden Gate Park created by an act of California Legislature (4 Apr).
San Francisco Railroad consolidated with Central Pacific Railroad into the new Southern Pacific (Oct).
Yerba Buena Cemetery removed.
Sweeney & Baugh Signal Station on Telegraph Hill burnt down.
Father Joseph M. Neri publically displays an electric light at St. Ignatius College on Market street.
Hayes Park Pavilion destroyed by fire (29 Nov). 
Jacob Davis designed the first Levi jeans. He became partners with Levi Strauss, obtained a patent for the jeans, and began selling them in the same year.
San Francisco Gas Light Company, representing a merger of the San Francisco Gas Company, the City Gas Company, and the Metropolitan Gas Company, was incorporated (1 Apr).
Andrew S. Hallidie tested his first cable car system near the top of Nob Hill at Clay and Jones Streets (2 Aug). The next month the Clay Street line started public service.
Stock Market Crash (18 Sep).
Bay District Race Track opened (12 Nov).
Second U.S. Mint building was opened at at Mission and Fifth streets (5 Nov).
Pacific Stock Exchange formally opened (5 June).
Lotta's Fountain, on Market street at Kearny, dedicated (9 Sep). It was presented to the city by Lotta Crabtree, a pioneer stage idol.
First exhibition of public light by Father Joseph M. Neri (4 July).
Southern Pacific line connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco completed (6 Sep).
Diptheria epidemic (Nov).
First Ferry Building built by the Central Pacific and South Pacific Coast railroads.
Principal municipal offices moved to new City Hall at McAllister and Larkin streets (1 July).
The California Electric Light Company was incorporated (30 June). They had the first central generating station in the world for distribution of electricity to customers. New York came later in 1881 and London in 1882.
The German Castle was developed by Frederick O. Layman on Telegraph Hill.
Chinese Exclusion Act passed (16 May).
1883 First electric street light erected in front of the City Hall.
Ocean Beach Pavilion opened at Park and Ocean Railroad (12 June).
  Presidio National Cemetery established (12 Dec).
Worker's Parade with an estimated 10,000 marchers (11 May).
Congress granted Seal Rocks to San Francisco (23 Feb).
James Lick Baths, at 10th and Howard streets, opened.
United States Quarantine Station opened on Angel Island (1 May).
Fort Miley site awarded to United States Army (23 Jan).
California Midwinter International Exposition/Fair (27 Jan - 4 July).
First Cliff House destroyed by fire (25 December).
Second Cliff House built by Adoph Sutro.
Sutro Baths, built and developed by Adolph Sutro, opened. It contained swimming pools, restaurants, natural history exhibits, galleries, and a garden.
Charles August Fey invents original three reel bell slot machine in San Francisco.
Spanish-American War began when the United States declared war on Spain (10 Apr).
Second (and current) Ferry Building opened (14 July).
Spanish-American War is officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris 1898 (12 Aug).
Phillipine-American War began (4 Feb).
Phillipine-American War ended (4 July).
Pacific Cable from San Francisco to Phillipines opened via Hawaii and Guam (4 July).
German Castle on Telegraph Hill burnt down (25 July).
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) was incorporated (10 Oct). Bonds issued over the next year were used to purchase rivals California Gas and Electric Corporation and San Francisco Gas and Electric Company.
On Wednesday morning, April 18 at 5:12 a.m., an earthquake (magnitude 7.8) struck Northern California.
Stock Market Panic.
Graft Prosecution began (18 Mar). It ended two years later. The “Graft Prosecution” was the prosecution of Mayor Eugene E. Schmitz and Abe Ruef, attorney and political boss, and certain public utility officials on extortion and bribery charges. The celebrated trials began in 1907 and continued for two years. Ruef was eventually sent to San Quentin, but Schmidt was let go on a technicality.
Second Cliff House destroyed by fire (7 Sep).
Alcatraz citadel demolished and replaced with present reinforced concrete cellhouse (1908-1911). 
Garfield Permit was signed, giving San Francisco primary water rights to Lake Eleanor and secondary rights to Hetch Hetchy (11 May).
First Portola Festival opened to celebrate recovery from 1906 earthquake and fire (19 Oct).
Third and current Cliff House built.
The Committee on Street Names made a change in about 200 street names.
Post Hospital at Presidio renamed Letterman General Hospital in honor of Major Jonathan Letterman (23 Nov).
  Women were given the right to vote in California (10 Oct).
Southern Pacific Railroad terminal was built at Third and Townsend streets in anticipation of the 1915 Exposition.
The ship,Titanic, hits an iceberg and sinks in the north Atlantic Ocean (14 Apr).
The ship, Lusitania, is hit by a German torpedo and sinks off the coast of Ireland (7 May).
Ewing Field, near Masonic Avenue, opened (16 May).
The assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand signaled the beginning of World War I (28 June).
First transcontinental telephone conversation by Alexander Graham Bell (New York) to Thomas Watson (San Francisco) (25 Jan).
Panama Pacific International Exposition (20 Feb - 4 Dec).
Dedication of new City Hall by Mayor James Rolph (28 Dec).
The United States National Park Service is established (25 Aug).
San Francisco Public Library in Civic Center dedicated (15 Feb).
United States declared war on Germany (6 Apr).
Fort Funston named in honor of Major-General Frederick Funston (26 June).
Great Flu epidemic (26 Oct).
The 18th Amendment was added to the Constitution, officially starting Prohibition (of liquor) one year later (16 Jan).
  World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles (28 June).
  Crissy Field, Presidio of San Francisco airport, was dedicated (3 Nov).
James Lick Baths closed (30 Nov).
First radio broadcasting station, 6UV operated by the Radio Telephone Shop at 175 Steuart Street, appeared (March).
First transcontinental airmail flight from New York to San Francisco (29 July).
The 19th Amendment is added to the Constitution, giving the right of vote to women (18 Aug).
Ocean Shore Railroad closed (26 Oct).
A portion of Lombard Street was created into “the crookedest street in the world.”
Steinhart Aquarium, Golden Gate Park, opened to public (29 Sep).
Palace of Legion of Honor dedicated (11 Nov).
Embarcadero subway opened (2 May).
Diamond Jubilee Celebration (75th anniversary of California's admittance to Union) (6-12 Sep).
San Francisco Municipal Airport (Mills Field) dedicated (7 May).
Philo Taylor Farnsworth invented and patented the first operational all-electronic "television system." (7 Sep).
California Hockey League created(13 Sep).
Kezar Stadium officially dedicated (13 Sep).
Bayshore Highway, the "Great Highway," opened (20 Oct).
The New York Stock Market crashes to an all time low, signaling the start of the Great Depression (29 Oct).
San Francisco Water Department takes over operation of system bought from Spring Valley Water Company (3 Mar).
Seals Stadium officially dedicated (8 Apr).
Lillie Hitchcock Coit Tower officially dedicated (8 Oct).
The 21st Amendment is added to the Constitution, repealing the 18th Amendment and ending Prohibition (5 Dec).
Alcatraz Island turned over to Federal Bureau of Prisons (1 Jan).
Maritime Strike began (9 May).
Bloody Thursday riots of the Maritime Strike (5 July).
Maritime Strike ended (19 July).
Water began to flow from Hetch Hetchy to Crystal Springs Lake (7 Oct).
Lurline Baths, at Bush and Larkin streets, closed (31 Mar).
  Crissy Field abandoned as an Army airport (30 June).
Bay Bridge was officially opened (12 Nov).
The third and current U.S. Mint building was opened on on the block of Duboce, Buchanan, Hermann and Webster streets.
Golden Gate Bridge was officially opened to pedestrian traffic. (27 May) It was opened to vehicular traffic the next day (28 May). 
Aquatic Park dedicated (22 Jan).
First Golden Gate International Exposition opened (18 Feb-29 Oct).
Second and last Golden Gate International Exposition (25 May - 29 Sep).
Cow Palace opened (15 Nov).
Japanese forces attack the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (7 Dec).
World War II began when the United States declared war on Japan (8 Dec).
President Roosevelt signed executive order to allow military commanders to remove
persons of Japanese ancestry from the Pacific Coast (19 Feb).
Navy takes takes possession of Hunter's Point for a naval yard (March).
Evacuation of Japanese began in San Francisco (6 Apr).
Free Farmer's Market opened at Market and Duboce streets (3 June).
German forces unconditionally surrendered (7 May). V-E (Victory in Eurpope)  day celebrated the next day.
United Nations World Charter of Security was signed in San Francisco (26 June).
World War II ended with surrender of Japanese on 14 Aug, and signing of surrender agreement on 2 Sep.
O'Connor Moffat & Co. sold to Macy's (16 Oct).
First telecast in San Francisco (25 May).
Korean War officially started when North Korea invaded South Korea (25 June).
Fluoridation of city's water began (26 Aug).
U.S. House Committee on Un-American activities opened hearings (1 Dec).
San Francisco International Airport opened (29 Aug).
Bay Area Rapid Transport (BART) organization created (17 Jan).
Early Friday evening at 7:44 p.m., an earthquake (magnitude 5.3) occurred in Daly City (22 March).
Seals Stadium demolished (11 Nov).
Candlestick Park was officially opened. It was named for the nearby Candlestick Cove (12 Apr).
Alcatraz evacuated as Federal Prison (22 Mar).
American and Vietnamese forces staged a coup in Vietnam, signaling the beginning of the Vietnam War (1 Nov).
Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) begins construction (19 June).
Cable Cars declared a National Landmark (1 Oct).
Sutro Baths destroyed by fire (26 June).
Beatles played their last live concert at Candlestick Park (29 Aug).
Summer of Love
Zodiac Killer strikes for the first time in the Bay area (28 Dec).
U.S. astronauts landed on the Moon (20 July).
Native American Indians occupied Alcatraz Island (20 Nov).
Transamerica Pyramid construction began (Dec).
Anti-Vietnam protest with thousands of marchers (15 Nov).
Jim Jones opened the People's Temple on Geary Street
  Chinatown Pagoda Gate was officially dedicated (18 Oct). The two-tiered pagoda-style green gate located at Grant and Bush streets was designed by Clayton Lee, and cost the City of San Francisco $75,000. The ceramic tiles on the gate cost an additional $45,000 and were donated by Taiwan.
Fort Point dedicated as a National Park (14 Apr).
The U.S. Government removed the native American indians from Alcatraz Island (11 June).
Transamerica Pyramid was officially opened. It has 48 stories and a 212 foot spire (Summer).
The television show Streets of San Francisco first aired and ran until June 1977 (Sep).
BART carried its first passengers (11 Sep).
Alcatraz Island became a National Park (12 Oct).
Vietnam War was officially ended with the signing of a peace treaty (27 Jan).
Fourth and Townsend Railroad terminal opened (23 June).
Jonestown Massacre in Guyana (18 Nov).
Dan White, a disgruntled ex-city supervisor walked into City Hall and killed Harvey Milk, a popular gay city supervisor, and Mayor George Moscone (27 Nov)
White Night Riots occurred in reaction to sentencing of Dan White (21 May).
First Space Shuttle lifted off from Kennedy Space Center (12 April).
United States invades Grenada (25 Oct - Dec).
Challenger Space Shuttle accident (28 Jan).
Late Tuesday afternoon at 5:05 p.m., an earthquake (magnitude 7.1) occurred along the San Andreas fault (17 October).
Iraqi forces invade Kuwait, signaling the beginning of the Gulf War (2 Aug).
Gulf War was officially ended with the signing of a cease fire between the United Nations and Iraq (28 Feb).
Cold War was officially ended with the signing of a treaty between United States and Russia (1 Feb).
101 California slayings by John Luigi Ferri (1 July).
Presidio Army base turned over to National Park Service.
Blackout: Tuesday morning at 8:17 a.m., a massive power outage occurred (8 December).
2000 Pacific Bell Park official opening game [baseball] (11 April).
Terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York and the Pentagon (11 Sep).
San Francisco started issuing same-sex marriage licenses (12 February).
California Supreme Court declared 3,955 same-sex marriages in San Francisco invalid (11 March).
100th Anniversary of the great 1906 Earthquake and Fire (18 April).
First legal, same-sex marriage in California performed in San Francisco (16 June).
San Francisco Giants baseball team wins the World Series.
San Francisco Giants baseball team wins the World Series.
San Francisco hosts the America's Cup (yachting) (July-September).
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge eastern span replacement opened (2 September).
San Francisco Giants baseball team wins the World Series.
Candlestick Park has last event (14 August). Demolition finished on September 24, 2015.

Last Updated: 06 February 2016.

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