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1846 - 2023

History of San Francisco


The history of the city of San Francisco, California, and its development as a center of maritime trade, were shaped by its location at the entrance to a large natural harbor. San Francisco is the name of both the city and the county; the two share the same boundaries. Only lightly settled by European-Americans at first, after becoming the base for the gold rush of 1849 the city quickly became the largest and most important population, commercial, naval, and financial center in the American West. San Francisco was devastated by a great earthquake and fire in 1906 but was quickly rebuilt. The San Francisco Federal Reserve Branch opened in 1914, and the city continued to develop as a major business city throughout the first half of the 20th century. Starting in the later half of the 1960s, San Francisco became the city most famous for the hippie movement. In recent decades, San Francisco has become an important center of finance and technology. The high demand for housing, driven by its proximity to Silicon Valley, and the limited availability has led to the city being one of America's most expensive places to live.

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History of San Francisco
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References for History of San Francisco.


  • Barth, Gunther Paul (1975). Instant Cities: Urbanization and the Rise of San Francisco and Denver. Oxford University Press.
  • Issel, William & Cherny, Robert W. (1986). San Francisco, 1865–1932: Politics, Power, and Urban Development. University of California Press.
  • Richards, Rand (2007). Historic San Francisco: A Concise History and Guide. ISBN 978-1879367050.
  • Ryan, Mary P. (1997). Civic Wars: Democracy and Public Life in the American City during the Nineteenth Century. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0520204417. Comparative survey of San Franciso, New York, and New Orleans.
  • Solnit, Rebecca (2010). Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-26250-8.; online review
  • Starr, Kevin (1973). Americans and the California Dream, 1850–1915. Starr's multivolume history of the state has extensive coverage of the city's politics, culture and economy.

Cultural Themes

  • Berglund, Barbara (2007). Making San Francisco American: Cultural Frontiers in the Urban West, 1846–1906.
  • Ferlinghetti, Lawrence (1980). Literary San Francisco: A Pictorial History from its Beginnings to the Present Day. Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-06-250325-1. OCLC 6683688.
  • Maupin, Armistead (1978). Tales of the City. Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-06-096404-7. OCLC 29847673.
  • Sinclair, Mick (2003). San Francisco: A Cultural and Literary History.

Earthquake, Infrastructure & Environment

  • Bronson, William (2006). The Earth Shook, the Sky Burned. Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0-8118-5047-6. OCLC 65223734.
  • Cassady, Stephen (1987). Spanning the Gate. Square Books. ISBN 978-0-916290-36-8. OCLC 15229396.
  • Davies, Andrea Rees (2011). Saving San Francisco: Relief and Recovery after the 1906 Disaster.
  • Dillon, Richard H. (1998). High Steel: Building the Bridges Across San Francisco Bay. Celestial Arts (Reissue edition). ISBN 978-0-88029-428-7. OCLC 22719465.
  • Dreyfus, Philip J. (2009). Our Better Nature: Environment and the Making of San Francisco.
  • Franklin, Philip (2006). The Great Earthquake and Firestorms of 1906: How San Francisco Nearly Destroyed Itself.
  • Thomas, Gordon; Witts, Max Morgan (1971). The San Francisco Earthquake. Stein and Day. ISBN 978-0-8128-1360-9. OCLC 154735.

Ethnicity, Religion & Race

  • Broussard, Albert S. (1994). Black San Francisco: The Struggle for Racial Equality in the West, 1900–1954.
  • Burchell, R. A. (1980). The San Francisco Irish, 1848–1880.
  • Chen, Yong (2002). Chinese San Francisco, 1850–1943: A Trans-Pacific Community.
  • Cordova, Cary (2017). The Heart of the Mission: Latino Art and Politics in San Francisco.
  • Daniels, Douglas Henry (1980). Pioneer Urbanites: A Social and Cultural History of Black San Francisco. University of California Press.
  • Garibaldi, Rayna; Hooper, Bernadette C. (2008). Catholics of San Francisco.
  • Gribble, Richard (2006). An Archbishop for the People: The Life of Edward J. Hanna. The Catholic archbishop (1915–1935).
  • Kim, Jae Yeon. "Racism is not enough: Minority coalition building in San Francisco, Seattle, and Vancouver." Studies in American Political Development 34.2 (2020): 195-215. online
  • Rosenbaum, Fred (2011). Cosmopolitans: A Social and Cultural History of the Jews of the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Yung, Judy (1995). Unbound Feet: A Social History of Chinese Women in San Francisco.

Gold Rush & Early Days

  • Hittell, John S. (1878). A History of the City of San Francisco and incidentally of the State of California.
  • Lotchin, Roger W. (1997). San Francisco, 1846–1856: From Hamlet to City. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-06631-3. OCLC 35650934.
  • Richards, Rand (2008). Mud, Blood, and Gold: San Francisco in 1849.
  • Taniguchi, Nancy J. Dirty Deeds: Land, Violence, and the 1856 San Francisco Vigilance Committee (2016) excerpt


  • Agee, Christopher Lowen (2014). The Streets of San Francisco: Policing and the Creation of a Cosmopolitan Liberal Politics, 1950–1972.
  • Bean, Walton (1967). Boss Rueff's San Francisco: The Story of the Union Labor Party, Big Business, and the Graft Prosecution.
  • Carlsson, Chris; Elliott, LisaRuth (2011). Ten Years That Shook the City: San Francisco 1968–1978.
  • DeLeon, Richard E. (1992). Left Coast City: Progressive Politics in San Francisco, 1975–1991.
  • Ethington, Philip J. (2001). The Public City: The Political Construction of Urban Life in San Francisco, 1850–1900.
  • Hartman, Chester (2002). City for Sale: The Transformation of San Francisco. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-08605-0. OCLC 48579085.
  • Holli, Melvin G., and Jones, Peter d'A., eds. Biographical Dictionary of American Mayors, 1820-1980 (Greenwood Press, 1981) short scholarly biographies each of the city's mayors 1820 to 1980. online; see index at p. 410 for list.
  • Howell, Ocean (2015). Making the Mission: Planning and Ethnicity in the Mission. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Kahn, Judd (1979). Imperial San Francisco: Politics and Planning in an American City, 1897–1906. University of Nebraska Press.
  • Issel, William (2013). Church and State in the City: Catholics and Politics in Twentieth-Century San Francisco. Temple University Press.
  • Kazin, Michael (1988). Barons of Labor: The San Francisco Building Trades and Union Power in the Progressive Era.
  • Saxton, Alexander (1965). "San Francisco labor and the populist and progressive insurgencies". Pacific Historical Review. 34 (4): 421–438. doi:10.2307/3636353. JSTOR 3636353.

Social & Ethnic

  • Asbury, Hubert (1989). The Barbary Coast: An Informal History of the San Francisco Underworld. Dorset Press. ISBN 978-0-88029-428-7. OCLC 22719465.
  • Lotchin, Roger W. (2003). The Bad City in the Good War: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Diego.
  • McDonald, Terrence J. (1987). The Parameters of Urban Fiscal Policy: Socioeconomic Change and Political Culture in San Francisco, 1860–1906.