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 San Francisco, California



 Book Introduction

     In 1847, Yerba Buena, a little town of about a thousand people, changed its name to San Francisco. The new name stuck.

     The Mexican-American War changed the name of the city, and the California Gold Rush changed just about everything else. The San Francisco "forty-niners," as they would soon be called, began to arrive. Within a year or two, 100,000 prospectors came to San Francisco from all over the world.

     It was, however, the discovery of Nevada's Comstock silver lode that changed San Francisco forever. The California Gold Rush of 1848 had turned San Francisco's banks into the most powerful in the West. Nevada may have mined the silver, but it was San Francisco that banked the 300 million dollars.

     On the morning of April 18, 1906, the most discussed earthquake in world history occurred. Official figures said only 500 people died, but 225,000 were left homeless. Ruptured gas mains ignited a city-wide holocaust, while the rest of the city's 400,000 people could do nothing more than watch the city burn from the Oakland hills.

     Though the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906 was a national disaster, it was merely another obstacle for the city that had invented the wild and raucous Barbary Coast. There had been three major earthquakes since 1865, and too many holocausts to count. The city was like some invincible, hand-made sword, folding over on itself again and again with hammers and fire and time.

     San Francisco re-invented itself again after World War II. Now people weren't discovering gold, they were discovering themselves. The beatniks begat the hippies…and the word went around. By 1967, the "Summer of Love," the old Victorian haunts of Haight-Ashbury overflowed with 100,000 Flower Children, the last, great migration of people to San Francisco.

     It was six years before the Great Fire of 1906 when the design for the city flag was chosen. The city fathers decided on a field of white, trimmed with gold, and in the middle - a mythical phoenix, rising. This is the city of San Francisco.




  Washington, D.C.