Hospitals in early San Francisco

In the early days there were two public hospitals in San Francisco, the United States Marine Hospital at Rincon Point and the State Marine Hospital located temporarily in a large brick building on Stockton Street between Pacific and Broadway, alternately known as the American Hotel, the Kremlin and the Clarendon Hotel. There had already been much to-do about the state hospitals. In April of 1850 an act had been passed for a hospital to be located not more than two miles nor less than twelve miles distant from Clark Point in San Francisco. In March of 1851 another act was passed to provide revenue for the hospital by imposing a tax on foreign nationals entering the state and authorizing the city to make use of this money within certain fixed limits. Then on April 15, 1851 a law was passed creating a state hospital in  and then on April 30 a law created yet another state hospital in Stockton. Then on the very same day still one more act was passed that called for the establishment of a state marine hospital in San Francisco and did so without prescribing any specific location but did repeal the earlier act of 1850.

Marine Hospital, SF 1853

Finally on May 17, 1853 all of the above legislation was repealed and on May 19 a new act passed for the creation of a State Marine Hospital in San Francisco and provided for the care of the indigent sick of the state. All patients remaining in the state hospitals in Sacramento and Stockton were to be admitted to this new institution. Provision was also made for the support of the indigent sick with a portion of the so-called hospital fund that was made up of a portion of the foreign passenger tax and from license fees on auctions, gambling, bowling, billiards, and hawkers and peddlers. It was this new State Marine Hospital that occupied the Stockton Street building rented for that purpose and which for some time afterward had the capacity to care for some two hundred and fifty patients.

Hard driving historical fiction by John Rose Putnam


  1. Did the law really say “not more than two miles nor less than twelve miles”? Since that’s impossible to do, it seems a bit odd.
    Do you know if any patient records exist for the State Marine Hospital from 1852 – 1855?

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