1853 San Francisco

By the end of 1853 San Francisco was one of the best looking cities for its size in the United States. Some fifty thousand persons lived there, or more than one seventh of the population of California. Around twenty-six thousand of these were Americans, six thousand English, Scotch and Irish, five and a half thousand German, five thousand French, three thousand Spanish American and another three thousand Chinese. Of these residents some eight thousand were female and about three thousand children.

Interior of the El Dorado

In addition to the multitude of wood frame buildings in town there were six hundred and twenty-six brick and stone structures. There were one hundred and sixty hotels or public boarding and lodging houses, sixty-six restaurants, sixty-three bakeries, five public markets, forty-three butcher shops, twenty bath houses, fifteen flour and sawmills, thirteen foundries and iron works, and eighteen livery stables. There were also nineteen banks, nine insurance companies, ten public schools with twenty-one teachers and twenty-one hundred and fifty pupils, eighteen churches, fourteen fire companies, six military companies, eight lodges of secret benevolent societies and four lodges of public societies.

South Park 1853

San Francisco also had a chamber of commerce, a mercantile library association, a number of merchant, literary, professional, religious and social societies, a gas company, a water company, and clubs of many kinds. There were consuls from twenty-seven foreign governments in residence, twelve daily newspapers with one in German, two tri-weeklies that were both in French, six weeklies and two monthlies. There were five American theaters and a French one, and sometimes German or Spanish plays were performed in one or another of these. There was also a Chinese theater, a music hall for both concerts and other exhibitions, two racecourses and a gymnasium. Only five years after the discovery of gold San Francisco was clearly the bustling hub of California.

Hard driving historical fiction by John Rose Putnam

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