A building boom in San Francisco

Lumber ship C A Thayer

Despite the high cost of building materials, fueled by the intense demand, sawmills in Santa Cruz, Sonoma and at other points around the San Francisco Bay were running at the top limit of their ability, and a host of others were established to help meet the need. All the timber near San Francisco, including the lofty and magnificent redwoods that adorned the hills across the bay in Contra Costa County, fell to the lumberman’s axe leaving only great stumps from five to twenty feet in diameter that caused awe in anyone who saw them. The timber trade along the Pacific coast north of the Russian River and into Oregon was also thriving. Ship after ship loaded down with planks, boards, beams and shingles crowded into the bay.

The Mendocino Lumber Yard, San Francisco 1866

It was not only the raw lumber to build houses that came; twenty-five ready-made homes with the parts cut and numbered and set to be fitted together arrived on the ship Oxnard in November of 1849. They were imported for William D. M. Howard who kept twelve and sold the rest to Captain Joseph Folsom. All soon graced the streets of San Francisco. Another home, a fine three-story place on Dupont Street between Pine and California was also brought in from the east, and, as was thought, every house of that time that made any pretense to grace or refinement.


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