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Early San Francisco History from Street Names

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History of Early
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A fairly complete thumbnail history of early San Francisco can be sketched by mention of the names of its streets. First came the early explorers who discovered the Bay of San Francisco, Portolá and Ortega. Then followed Anza, arriving at the Presidio in 1776, during the American Revolutionary period. Among his soldiers and settlers were Moraga, Peralta, Pacheco, Castro and Bernal. At about the same time the Mission Dolores was founded under the direction of Father Junípero Serra and Father Palóu. The names of Spanish and Mexican governors and army comandantes over the next sixty years have been used in streets named Argüello, Castro, Moraga and Sanchez.

Gradually, starting in 1835 with Richardson and then Leese, the little town of Yerba Buena grew, and for about 10 years before the occupation by United States forces there were many substantial citizens such as Howard, Brannan, Bryant, Larkin, Leidesdorff, Russ, Davis and Richardson. On July 9, 1846 a new order started with the taking of Yerba Buena by Montgomery under Sloat; he also served under Stockton. Both Powell and Bartlett were on the Navy ships then in the Bay, with Bartlett changing the name of Yerba Buena to San Francisco in January 1847. The army was equally active in the conquest with Kearny, Frémont and Folsom. A little later a temporary military government took charge under Mason, with Halleck an able assistant.

Just before the gold rush the streets were surveyed and laid out by O’Farrell, followed by Eddy. The city, which had about 300 inhabitants at. the time of the conquest, grew by leaps and bounds with the gold rush. During and shortly after that period, well known names included Sutter, Brannan, Broderick, Green, Geary, and Leavenworth. These names mark the close of the “pioneer” period, which, according to the Society of California Pioneers’ definition, was the end of the year 1849.

[Henry C. Carlisle]

Original wood engraving by Mallette Dean
©1954 by American Trust Company, San Francisco.

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