The California Gold Rush In San Francisco

Photo credit : OpenSFHistory / wnp37.03287.jpg

If you are often visiting or living in San Francisco, it might seem changeless but, it is known that San Francisco is shifting, forever being built, and evolving. If we look at the history of San Francisco, we come across many different ages and realize how life changed over time. In this week’s blog, we will explain the era of the Gold Rush and mention some of the main important events for you were to know.

San Francisco is new and old.

Starting with Gold Rush, people were stunned and rushed to grog shops, to collect the necessary supplies. Some of the items were sold out quickly including picks, shovels, food, clothes, canvas, lanterns, or anything that gold seekers need. These shops were later completely emptied. The excitement of gold spread up and down in California. Even real estate became incredibly important as there was a high demand for accommodation. According to one of the lively contemporary chronicles, the richest men in San Francisco have made the best portion of their wealth by the possession of the real estate.

Yerba Buena Merchants in 1850s – Photo credit : OpenSFHistory / wnp14.12188.jpg

It was an adventure of a lifetime.

The famous route was through Panama, as there was a recently built railway, lowering travel time down to days or from some locations to few hours. If you are not rich enough to travel from this route, you had to have an average journey of weeks or months. If we consider at least one-third (1/3) of the population came overseas, we can see that miners had long voyages for four to eight months. The long and tough journeys, even sometimes resulting in disaster, in the 1850s eleven ships were lost at Cape Horn, and some of them never been found ending miners life.

Yerba Buena Cove in 1850s – Photo credit: OpenSFHistory / wnp37.02585.jpg

In the first few years of the Gold Rush, close to 200,000 people were migrated to California. Some of the important mines were Coloma, Mormon Island, Rich Bar, Weber’s Creek. As soon as discovery of gold in Sacramento Valley, San Francisco became suddenly a famous and exciting city. Because the city had all the longing and energy of the Gold Rush and resulting, the city population quickly increased. Not only miners but also people who want to provide some services came to San Francisco. It was mostly including, providing accommodation, selling food, and providing other needs. 2 major components of this era were energy and optimism to becoming wealthy. These were the main reasons were driven people to California.

Montgomery & Post in 1850s – Photo credit: OpenSFHistory / wnp37.10125.jpg

On the other hand, Gold Rush had bad endings as well, it was a hard life. There were some diseases around, one of five newcomers died within six months of their arrival. The crime was increasing time to time people saw many murders, blood deaths, whippings, and hangings in California. The boom in population was increased the crime rates.

By the end of this era, gambling was almost everywhere in San Francisco, people were gambling in big saloons, in smoky bars, or in dark alleys. People were applying for gambling licenses later the city was able to finance a rudimentary police force by using some of the revenue from these licenses and other sales from lands and liquor.

Mining Camp & Gambling House in 1894 – Photo credit: OpenSFHistory / wnp37.03133.jpg

The end was crushing, immigration was almost ceased, real estate values dropped, and money became scarce. The crime was up again, and the corruption was spread. Because people were realizing that Gold Rush was over, this was shocking the streets of San Francisco. However, by the end of the 1950s, the city was already built courthouses, theaters and hospitals, and schools, lighthouses, wharves, and harbors. It was slowly becoming a metropolis and for many decades to come, San Francisco was ready to be home for the intensified pursuit of happiness.

Fire House in 1856 – Photo credit: OpenSFHistory / wnp71.0129.jpg

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