Fisherman’s Wharf and Henry Meiggs

Henry Meiggs

Of all the business failures in San Francisco that year of 1854 the one that attracted the most attention, and perhaps the most important, was the failure of Henry Meiggs. He arrived in California in 1850 aboard the Albany with a cargo of lumber that he sold for twenty times what he had paid and settled in North Beach where he went into the lumber business in a big way. A good looking, well dressed man who was always willing to donate to the public good as well as private charities, Meiggs seemed to be a man of excellent character and soon became quite popular. With his untiring energy, quick judgment, and clear decisions he cut a large figure across the city, and particularly in North Beach.

Meiggs wharf

Soon after he arrived Meiggs built one of the largest and best-equipped sawmills along the coast in Mendocino County to supply his lumberyard in North Beach. He became a prominent voice in advocating the virtues of the area. It was, he said, less than a mile from the established center of town and closer to the Golden Gate, the land titles there were more reliable and less encumbered by Spanish and Mexican land claims and the price of property was less than one quarter of what it was elsewhere. To show his faith in his own words he bought numerous lots and convinced his friends to buy more. Then he built a road around the eastern and northern base of Telegraph Hill from Clark’s Point to North Beach. He also built a two thousand foot wharf running north from Powell Street towards Alcatraz Island. Today what remains of Meiggs’ wharf is known as Fisherman’s Wharf and is one of San Francisco’s best-known places.



  1. What a far sighted individual. I must say, a most interesting person.

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