« PrejšnjaNaprej »
Nevertheless, doubters became numerous with every periodic depression in business ;' and when the gold excitement carried off most of the population, the stanchest quailed, and the rival city at the straits, so much nearer to the mines, seemed to exult in prospective triumph. But the golden storm proved menacing only in aspect. During the autumn the inhabitants came flocking back again, in numbers daily increased by new arrivals, and rich in funds wherewith to give vitality to the town. Building operations were actively resumed, nothwithstanding the cost of labor,* and real estate, which lately could not have found buyers at any price, now rose with a bound to many times its former value.
times its former value. The opening of the first wharf for sea-going vessels, the Broadway, may be regarded as the beginning of a revival, marked also by the resurrection of the defunct press, and the establishment of a school, and of regular protestant worship, propitiatory measures well needed in face of
2 As early in 1848, when several firms discontinued their advertisements in the Californian. Others thought it expedient, as we have seen, to seek a prop for the prevailing land and other speculations, by bringing the resources of the country and the importance of the town before the people of the eastern states. This was done by the pen of Fourgeaud in the Cal. Star, Mar. 18, 1848, and following numbers.
* The absorbing municipal election of Oct. 3d showed only 158 votes. Annals S. F., 206. See chapter i. in this vol, on condition in Jan., and chapter iv. on exodus.
* Tenfold higher than in the spring. Effects stood in proportion. Eggs $12 a dozen; Hawaiian onions and potatoes $1.50 a Ib.; shovels $10 each, etc. The arrival of supplies lowered prices till flour sold at from $12 to $15 a barrel in Dec. Star and Cal., Dec. 1848; Buffum's Six Months, 23.
6 For spring prices, see preceding volume, v. 652-4. A strong influence was felt by the arrival in Sept. of the brig Belfast from New York, whose cargo served to lower the price of merchandise, but whose inauguration of the Broadway wharf as a direct discharging point inspired hope among the townsfolk. Real estate rose 50 per cent near the harbor; a lot vainly offered for $5,000 one day, “sold readily the next for $10,000.' 8. F. Directory, 1852, 9. By Nov. the prices had advanced tenfold upon those ruling in the spring, and rents rose from $10 and $20 to $20 and $100 per month. To returning lot-holders this proved another mine, but others complained of the rise as a drawback to settlement. Gillespie, in Larkin's Doc., MS., vi. 52, 66; Earll's Stat., MS., 10.
6 For earlier progress of wharves, see preceding vol., v. 655, 679.
? The Californian had maintained a spasmodic existence for a time till bought by the Cal. Star, which on Nov. 18th reappeared under the combined title, Star and Californian, after five months' suspension. In Jan. 1849 it ap. pears as the Alta California, weekly.
* Rev. T. D. Hunt, invited from Honolulu, was chosen chaplain to the
INFLUX OF VESSELS.
the increased relapse into political obliquity and dissipation, to be expected from a population exuberant with sudden affluence after long privation.'
Yet this period was but a dull hibernation of expectant recuperation for renewed toil,10 as compared with the following seasons. The awakening came at the close of February with the arrival of the first steamship, the California, bearing the new military chief, General Persifer F. Smith, and the first instalment of gold-seekers from the United States. Then vessel followed vessel, at first singly, but erelong the horizon beyond the Golden Gate was white with approaching sails; and soon the anchorage before Yerba Buena Cove, hitherto a glassy expanse ruffled only by the tide and breeze, and by some rare visitor, was thickly studded with dark hulks, presenting a forest of masts, and bearing the symbol and stamp of different countries, the American predominating: By the middle of November upward of six hundred vessels had entered the harbor, and in the following year came still more. The larger proportion were left to swing at anchor in the bay, almost without guard—at one time more than 500 could be counted for the crews, possessed no less than the passengers by the gold fever, rushed away at once, carrying off the ship boats, and caring little for the pay due them, and still less for the dilemma of the consignees or captain. The helpless commander frequently joined in the flight. 12 So high was the cost of labor, and so glutted the market at times with certain goods, that in some instances it did not pay to
citizens, with $2,500 a year. Services at school-house on Portsmouth square. Annals S. F., 207.
* There were now general as well as local elections, particulars of which are given elsewhere.
10 As spring approached, attention centred on preparations, with impatient waiting for opportunities to start for the mines. Hence the statement may not be wrong that most of the people of the city at that time had a cadav. erous appearance, ....a drowsy listlessness seemed to characterize the masses of the coinmunity.' First Steamship Pioneers, 366.
11 As will be shown in the chapter on commerce.
12 Taylor instances a case where the sailors coolly rowed off under the fire of the government vessels. El Dorado, i. 54. Merchants had to take care of. many abandoned vessels. Fay's Facts, MS., 1-2.
unload the cargo. Many vessels were left to rot, or to be beached for conversion into stores and lodginghouses. 13
The disappointments and hardships of the mines brought many penitents back in the autumn, so as to permit the engagement of crews.
Of 40,000 and more persons arriving in the bay, the greater proportion had to stop at San Francisco to arrange for proceeding inland, while a certain number of traders, artisans, and others concluded to remain in the city, whose population thus rose from 2,000 in February to 6,000 in August, after which the figure began to swell under the return current of wintering or satiated miners, until it reached about 20,000.14
To the inflowing gold-seekers the aspect of the famed El Dorado city could not have been very inspiring, with its straggling medley of low dingy adobes of a by-gone day, and frail wooden shanties born in an
13 By cutting holes for doors and windows and adding a roof. Merrill, Stat., MS., 2-4, instances the well-known Niantic and Gen. Harrison. Lar. kin, in Doc. Hist. Cal., vii. 288, locates the former at x. w. corner Sansome and Clay, and the latter (owned by E. Mickle & Co.) at n. w. corner Battery and Clay. He further places the Apollo storeship, at n. w. corner Sacramento and Battery, and the Georgean between Jackson and Washington, west of Battery st. Many sunk at their moorings. As late as Jan. 1857 old hulks still obstructed the harbor, while still others had been overtaken by the bayward march of the city front, and formed basements or cellars to tenements built on their decks. Even now, remains of vessels are found under the filled foundations of houses. Energetic proceedings of the harbor-master finally cleared the channel. This work began already in 1850. Chas Hare made a regular business of taking the vessels to pieces; and soon the observant Chinese saw the profits to be made, and applied their patient energy to the work. Among the sepulchred vessels I may mention the Cadmus, which carried Lafayette to America in 1824;
the Plover, which sailed the Arctic in search of Franklin; the Regulus, Alceste, Thames, Neptune, Golconda, Mersey, Caroline Augusta, Dianthe, Genetta de Goito, Candace, Copiapo, Talca, Bay State, and others.
14 It is placed at 3,000 in March, 5,000 in July, and from 12,000 to 15,000 in Oct., the latter by Taylor, Eldorado, 205, and a writer in Home Miss., xxii. 208. Some even assume 30,000 at the end of 1849. In the spring the current set in for the mines, leaving a small population for the summer. The first directory, of Sept. 1850, contained 2,500 names, and the votes cast in Oct. reached 3,440. Sac. Transcript, Oct. 14, 1850. Hittell, S. F., 147-8, assumes not over 8,000 in Nov. 1849, on the strength of the vote then cast of 2,056, while allowing about 25,000 in another place for Dec. The Annals S. F., 219, 226, 244, insists upon at least 20,000, probably nearer 25,000. There are other estimates in Mayne's B. Col. 157. The figures differ in Crosby's Events, MS., 12; Williams' Stat., MS., 3; Green's Life, Ms., 19; Burnett's Recol, MS., ii. 36; Bartlett's Stat., MS., 3.
afternoon, with a sprinkling of more respectable frame houses, and a mass of canvas and rubber habitations. The latter crept outward from the centre to forin a flapping camp-like suburb around the myriad of sand hills withered by rainless summer, their dreariness scantily relieved by patches of chaparral and sagebrush, diminutive oak and stunted laurel, upon
which the hovering mist-banks cast their shadow.13
It was mainly a city of tents, rising in crescent incline upon the shores of the cove. Stretching from Clark Point on the north-east, it skirted in a narrow band the dominant Telegraph hill, and expanded along the Clay-street slopes into a more compact settlement of about a third of a mile, which tapered away along the California-street ridge. Topographic peculiarities compelled the daily increasing canvas structures to spread laterally, and a streak extended northward along Stockton street; but the larger number passed to the south-west shores of the cove, beyond the Market-street ridge, a region which, sheltered from the blustering west winds and provided with good spring water, was named Happy Valley.8 Beyond an at
Hardly any visitor fails to dilate upon the dreary bareness of the hills, a 'corpse-like waste,' as Pfeiffer, Lady's Second Jour., 288, has it. Helper's Lanıl of Gold, 83.
16 All this shore beyond California street, for several blocks inland, was called Happy Valley; yet the term applied properly to the valley about First, Second, Mission, and Natoma sts. The section along Howard st was known as Pleasant Valley. Dean's Stut., MS., 1; Currey's Incidents, MS., 4; Willey, and pioneer letters in S. F. Bulletin, May 17, 1859; Jan. 23, Sept. 10, 1867. The unclaimed soil was also an attraction. The hill which at the present Palace Hotel rose nearly threescore feet in height in a measure turned the wind. Yet proportionately more people died in this valley, says Garniss, Early Days, MS., 10, than in the higher parts of S. F. Currey estimates the number of tents here during the winter 1849–50 at 1,000, and adds that the dwellings along Stockton st, north from Clay, were of a superior order. Ubi sup., 8. Details on the extent of the city are given also in Williams' Recol., MS., 6; Merrill, Stat., MS., 2, wherein is observed that it took half an hour to reach Fourth st from the plaza, owing to the trail winding round sand hills. S'utton's Early Erper., MS., l; Barstow's Stat., MS., 2; Roach's Sut., MS., 2; Doolittle's Stat., MS., 2; Upham's Notes, 221; Turrill's Cal. Notes, 22–7; Winans' Stat., MS., 514; Fay's Facts, MS., 3; Finlla's St., MS., 3, 9; Rolninson's Cal. and Ils Gold Reg., 10; Walton's Facts, 8; Richardson's Missis., 448, with view of S. F. in 1847; Lloyd's Lights and Shades, 18-20; Saxon's F'ive Years, 309-12; Henshaw's Events, MS., 2; Richardson's Mining, MS., 10-11; Frisbie's Remin., MS., 36-7; Sixteen Months, 46, 167; Cal. Gold Regions, 105, 214; Hutchings' Mag., i. 83; Dilke's Greater Britain, 209, 228–32; Clemens'