A coming economic crash

In spite of the efforts of San Franciscans to maintain and even expand business in 1854 the strain of over speculation and extravagance had impeded the natural progress to the extent that there had to be a reaction more severe than the depression suffered in the earlier part of the year. However, in spite of lowered production from the mines, there was still a significant yield of gold that amounted to sixty-four million dollars, and, together with the large number of forty-eight thousand new immigrants, this retarded any impending collapse. But in lieu of extraordinary measures a collapse was inevitable.

San Francisco 1856

The crash would come in 1855, but so many individual failures and embarrassments that preceded the crash forewarned the coming storm. There had been a number of brick buildings built for business in 1853 but by the middle of 1854 three hundred out of a thousand were unoccupied and not producing rent. Over the course of that year seventy-seven petitions for bankruptcy were filed with the courts, with a total of several million dollars in liabilities and only a few thousand in assets. This, in a city of some forty thousand residents, was an overly large proportion.

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