California State Historical Landmarks in San Francisco County
Properties of historical importance in California are currently designated as significant resources in three state registration programs: State Historical Landmarks, Points of Historical Interest, and the California Register of Historic Places. Below is a list of the State Historical Landmarks for San Francisco County. This data is provided by the Office of Historic Preservation - California Department of Parks and Recreation and is also available in the California Historical Landmarks Book.
NO. 1002 SITE OF THE FIRST DYNAMITE FACTORY IN UNITED STATES - The first commercial manufacturing of dynamite in the U.S. occurred in what is now Glen Canyon Park. On March 19, 1868, the Giant Powder Company began production at its first manufacturing plant, under exclusive license from Alfred Nobel to produce his new explosive in America. The factory did not last long. On November 26, 1869, an explosion completely destroyed the entire facility, turning every one of the buildings on the place, and the surrounding fencing, into 'hundreds of pieces,' according to a newpaper account. The company moved its operations elsewhere, an action that was to be repeated again in the future under similar circumstances, until it moved to its permanent and final home at Point Pinole on San Pablo Bay.
Location: Glen Canyon Park, San Francisco NO. 1010 ORIGINAL SITE OF THE THIRD BAPTIST CHURCH (FORMERLY THE FIRST COLORED BAPTIST CHURCH) - In August 1852, Abraham Brown, Thomas Bundy, Thomas Davenport, Willie Denton, Harry Fields, George Lewis, Fielding Spotts, and Eliza and William Davis organized the church in the Davis home. The congregation purchased the old First Baptist Church and moved it to this location in 1854. The church is now located at 1399 McAllister Street.
Location: Corner Grant Ave and Greenwich, San Francisco NO. 119 PORTSMOUTH PLAZA - Named for U.S.S. Portsmouth, commanded by Captain John B. Montgomery, after whom Montgomery Street was named. It was here on the plaza that Captain Montgomery first raised the American flag near the Mexican adobe custom house on July 9, 1846. Center of many early-day activities, this plaza was the site of: the first public school building, erected in 1847 on the southwest corner of plaza, where religious services and many public meetings were held, the dramatic announcement of gold discovery made on May 11, 1848, when Sam Brannan displayed glittering samples to crowds, mass meeting to urge election of delegates to Monterey Constitutional Convention on June 12, 1849, refuge for citizens following conflagrations of 1849, 1850, 1851, and 1906, citizens' assembly on July 16, 1849 to organize against depredations of a lawless body called 'The Hounds,' memorial services held August 29, 1850, following death of President Zachary Taylor, first Admission Day celebration held October 29, 1850, when the steamship Oregon brought the news that California had become 31st state on September 9, an indignation meeting, organized June 1, 1852, to protest against the city council's purchase of the Jenny Lind Theatre to be used as a city hall, commemorative services held for Henry Daly, August 10, 1852, and an oration delivered by Colonel E. D. Baker on September 18, 1859, over the body of U. S. Senator David C. Broderick, killed in duel with Chief Justice David S. Terry. Robert Louis Stevenson spent many hours here during his visit to the city in 1879-1880.
Location: Portsmouth Square Park, on Kearny between Clay and Washington, San Francisco
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: SAN FRANCISCO NORTH NO. 192 EL DORADO, PARKER HOUSE, AND DENNISON'S EXCHANGE - The 'El Dorado,' the 'Parker House,' and 'Dennison's Exchange' were among the most famous hotel and gambling resorts around San Francisco in the early 1850s. The Jenny Lind Theatre replaced the Parker House in 1850. The third Jenny Lind Theatre, opened by Tom Maguire on October 4, 1851 on the same site as the two preceding it, which were destroyed in the fires of 1851, was purchased by the City of San Francisco in 1852 for use as the city hall.
Location: 750 Kearny St at Merchant, San Francisco NO. 236 ENTRANCE OF THE SAN CARLOS INTO SAN FRANCISCO BAY - On August 5, 1775, the Spanish packet San Carlos, under the command of Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala, became the first ship to enter San Francisco Bay. His crew spent a month and a half surveying the bay from its southernmost reaches to the northern end of present-day Suisun Bay. The San Carlos departed September 18, 1775.
Location: Aquatic Park, NW corner of Beach and Larkin Sts, San Francisco NO. 327-1 SITE OF ORIGINAL MISSION DOLORES CHAPEL AND DOLORES LAGOON - On June 29, 1776, Father Fancisco Palou, a member of the Anza Expedition, had a brushwood shelter built here on the edge of a now vanished lake, Lago de los Dolores (Lake of the Sorrows), and offered the first mass. The first mission was a log and thatch structure dedicated on October 9, 1776 when the necessary church documents arrived. The present Mission Dolores was dedicated in 1791.
Location: Site: Camp and Albion Sts, San Francisco (plaque in storage) NO. 328 LONG WHARF - In the spring of 1848, the old Central or Long Wharf was built 'from the bank in the middle of the block between Sacramento and Clay Streets, where Leidesdorff Street now is, 800 feet into the Bay.' After 1850 it was extended 2,000 feet and the Pacific mail steamers and other large vessels anchored there. Central or Long Wharf is now Commercial Street.
Location: Intersection of Leidesdorff and Commercial Sts, San Francisco NO. 408 SITE OF THE FIRST MEETING OF FREEMASONS HELD IN CALIFORNIA - On November 9, 1849, a charter was granted by the Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia for the organization of California Lodge No. 13, now California Lodge No. 1 of the Free and Accepted Masons. On November 23, 1848, Levi Stowell was appointed master of the new lodge, and on November 15, 1849, the lodge was formally organized under the charter.
Location: 728 Montgomery St, San Francisco NO. 454 WOODWARD'S GARDENS - R. B. Woodward opened his gardens to the public in 1866 as an amusement park catering to all tastes, and it remained San Francisco's most popular resort until it closed in 1892. The Gardens once occupied the block bounded by Mission, Duboce, Valencia, and 14th Streets, the main entrance was on Mission.
Location: SW corner of Mission and Duboce Sts, San Francisco NO. 459 SITE OF BRICK BUILDING OF THE FIRM OF MELLUS AND HOWARD - In the Mellus and Howard Warehouse, erected on this site in 1848, the Society of California Pioneers, oldest historical society in the state, was organized August 31, 1850 to collect and preserve the history of California. W. D. M. Howard was its first president.
Location: 555 Montgomery at Clay, San Francisco NO. 462 SITE OF FIRST JEWISH RELIGIOUS SERVICES IN SAN FRANCISCO - In a second-floor room in a store that once stood here, forty pioneers of the Jewish faith gathered on September 26, 1849, Yom Kippur (5610), and participated in the first Jewish religious services in San Francisco.
Location: 735 Montgomery between Washington and Jackson, San Francisco NO. 500 EASTERN TERMINUS OF CLAY STREET HILL RAILROAD - The Clay Street Hill Railroad Company, the first cable railroad system in the world, was invented and installed by Andrew S. Hallidie. It started operation on August 1, 1873 and ceased on February 15, 1942.
Location: Portsmouth Plaza, Clay and Kearny, San Francisco NO. 587 FIRST PUBLIC SCHOOL - This is the site of the first public school in California. It was opened on April 3, 1848 on the southwest corner of Portsmouth Square.
Location: Portsmouth Plaza, Clay and Brenham Sts, San Francisco NO. 623 UNION SQUARE - This was the center of San Francisco in pioneer days, deeded for public use January 3, 1850 during the administration of John White Geary, first mayor and postmaster, and later Governor of Kansas and Pennsylvania. The name originated in 1860 when public meetings were held here in support of the Union.
Location: NE corner of Geary and Powell, San Francisco NO. 650 SITE OF THE WHAT CHEER HOUSE - This is the site of the famous What Cheer House, a unique hotel opened in 1852 by R. B. Woodward and destroyed by the fire of 1906. The What Cheer House catered to men only, permitted no liquor on the premises, and housed San Francisco's first free library and first museum.
Location: SW corner of Sacramento and Leidesdorff Sts, San Francisco NO. 691 SARCOPHAGUS OF THOMAS STARR KING - Apostle of liberty, humanitarian, Unitarian minister, who in the Civil War bound California to the Union and led her to excel all other states in support of the United States Sanitary Commission that preceded the American Red Cross. His statue, together with that of Father Junípero Serra, represents California in the National Capitol, and his name is borne by a Yosemite peak-'A man to match our mountains.'
Location: First Unitarian Church, Franklin between Starr King and Geary, San Francisco
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: SAN FRANCISCO NORTH NO. 696 WESTERN BUSINESS HEADQUARTERS OF RUSSELL, MAJORS, AND WADDELL- FOUNDERS, OWNERS, AND OPERATORS OF THE PONY EXPRESS - This was the site of the western business headquarters of Russell, Majors, and Waddell-founders, owners, and operators of the Pony Express, 1860-1861. The firm's main office was in Leavenworth, Kansas, W. W. Finney was the western representative in San Francisco.
Location: 601 Montgomery St at Clay, San Francisco NO. 754 SITE OF THE MARK HOPKINS INSTITUTE OF ART - In February 1893, Mr. Edward F. Searles donated the Hopkins Mansion to the University of California in trust for the San Francisco Art Institute for 'instruction in and illustration of the fine arts, music, and literature,' and as San Francisco's first cultural center.
Location: SE corner of California at Mason, San Francisco NO. 760 SITE OF LAUREL HILL CEMETERY - The builders of the West, civic and military leaders, jurists, inventors, artists, and eleven United States Senators are buried here, on the most revered of San Francisco's hills.
Location: 3333 California St at Walnut, San Francisco NO. 772 ORIGINAL SITE OF ST. MARY'S COLLEGE - In August 1863, Archbishop Joseph Sadoc Alemany, OP, opened St. Mary's College here with a faculty of two diocesan priests, four laymen, and two student teachers. In August 1868, at the invitation of the archbishop, Brother Justin McMahon and seven Christian Brothers took charge of St. Mary's.
Location: Intersection of Mission and College Sts, San Francisco NO. 784 EL CAMINO REAL (AS FATHER SERRA KNEW IT AND HELPED BLAZE IT) - This plaque was placed on the 250th anniversary of the birth of California's apostle, Padre Junípero Serra, OFM, to mark El Camino Real as he knew it and helped blaze it.
Location: Mission San Diego de Alcala, San Diego to Mission San Francisco de Asis, Dolores St, between 16th and 17th Sts, San Francisco NO. 791 ORIGINAL SITE OF THE BANCROFT LIBRARY - In 1860 Hubert Howe Bancroft began to collect the wealth of material which was to result in the writing of his monumental history of western North America. His library was located here in 1881, in 1905 it was purchased by the University of California and moved the following year to Berkeley.
Location: 1538 Valencia St, San Francisco NO. 80 MONTGOMERY BLOCK - This is the site of San Francisco's first fireproof building, erected in 1853 by Henry Wager Halleck. It was the headquarters for many outstanding lawyers, financiers, writers, actors, and artists. James King of William, editor of the Bulletin, died here on May 14, 1856 after being shot by James Casey. This building escaped destruction in the fire of 1906.
Location: 600 Montgomery St, San Francisco NO. 81 LANDING PLACE OF CAPTAIN J. B. MONTGOMERY - In the early morning of July 9, 1846, 'when the water came up to Montgomery Street,' Commander John B. Montgomery landed near this spot from the U.S. Sloop-of-War Portsmouth to raise the Stars and Stripes on the Plaza, now Portsmouth Square.
Location: 552 Montgomery St, SE corner of Montgomery and Clay, San Francisco NO. 810 SITE OF OLD ST. MARY'S CHURCH - The first building erected as a cathedral in California, Old St. Mary's served the Archdiocese of San Francisco from 1854 to 1891. Once the city's most prominent building, it is built of brick brought 'around the Horn' in sailing ships, and much of its stonework was quarried and cut in China.
Location: NE corner of California and Grant Ave, plaque on Grant Ave entrance, San Francisco
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: SAN FRANCISCO NORTH NO. 819 HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY HEADQUARTERS - On this block, then on Yerba Buena's waterfront, stood the California headquarters of the Hudson's Bay Company. Their chief trader, William G. Tae, purchased the property and started operations in 1841. This venture caused wide speculation about British intentions. Inadequate profits, a declining fur catch, and pressure of U.S. expansion caused Hudson's Bay Company to end its California operations.
Location: 505 Montgomery between Sacramento and Commercial Sts, San Francisco NO. 82 CASTILLO DE SAN JOAQUÍN - The first ship to enter San Francisco Bay, the San Carlos (Captain Ayala), dropped anchor off this point August 5, 1775. Lieutenant-Colonel Don Juan Bautista de Anza planted the cross on Cantil Blanco (White Cliff) March 28, 1776. The first fortification, Castillo de San Joaquín, was completed December 8, 1794 by José Joaquín de Arrillaga, sixth Governor of California. In 1853 United States Army engineers cut down the cliff and built Fort Point, renamed Fort Winfield Scott in 1882. This fort, a partial replica of Fort Sumter, is the only brick fort west of the Mississippi, its seawall has stood undamaged for over a hundred years.
Location: SE corner of Fort Wall, Fort Point, San Francisco (below Golden Gate Bridge) NO. 83 SHORELINE MARKERS - 'This tablet marks the shoreline of San Francisco Bay at the time of the discovery of gold in California, January 24, 1848. Map reproduced above delineates old shoreline.'
Location: Plaque in sidewalk, NE corner of Bush and Market Sts, San Francisco NO. 84 RINCON HILL - A fashionable neighborhood in the 1860s, Rincon Hill was the home of William Tecumseh Sherman, William C. Ralston, William Gwin, H. H. Bancroft, and others. By the 1880s the hill, already partially leveled, became a working class district. Today it is nearly invisible beneath the Bay Bridge. This plaque is mounted on the retaining wall of St. Mary's Hospital, built 1861 but destroyed in the fire of 1906.
Location: NE corner of Rincon and Bryant Sts, San Francisco NO. 85 OFFICE OF THE STAR NEWSPAPER - On this site January 9, 1847, the first newspaper in San Francisco-the California Star later known as The Alta Californian-was published by Samuel Brannan with Elbert P. Jones as editor.
Location: SW corner of Washington St and Brenham Place, San Francisco NO. 86 CALIFORNIA THEATRE - On this site on January 18, 1869, the California Theatre, built by William C. Ralston, opened with the following stock company: John McCullough, Lawrence Barrett, Harry Edwards, Willie Edouin, E. B. Holmes, William Mastayer, John T. Raymond, W. F. Burroughs, W. H. Sadley Smith, John Wilson, Edward J. Buckley, Mrs. Judah Emelie Melville, Elizabeth Saunders, Annette Ince, Marie E. Gordon, Sophie Edwin, Minnie Walton, and Julia Buckley. Among artists who played here were Charles W. Couldock, Edwin Adams, John Broughan, Edwin Booth, Barton Hill, Walter Montgomery, Mrs. D. P. Bowers, Adelaide Neilson, and Lotta Crabtree. This theater remained a brilliant center of drama until August 11, 1888.
Location: 430 Bush St between Kearny and Grant, San Francisco NO. 861 SITE OF FIRST CALIFORNIA STATE FAIR - California's first state fair was held on this site on October 4, 1854. Sponsored by the California State Agricultural Society, the exhibition of 'horses, cattle, mules, and other stock, and agricultural, mechanical, and domestic manufacture and productions' promoted the new state's growing agricultural industry. A different city held the fair each year, until Sacramento became the permanent location in 1861.
Location: 269 Bush at Montgomery St, San Francisco NO. 87 SITE OF FIRST U.S. BRANCH MINT IN CALIFORNIA - The first United States branch mint in San Francisco was authorized by Congress July 3, 1852 and opened for operation April 3, 1854. Dr. L. A. Birdsall was the first superintendent, J. Huston, first minter, and A. Haraszthy, first assayer.
Location: 608-610 Commercial St near Montgomery, San Francisco NO. 876 CITY OF PARIS BUILDING - It was 1850 when the Verdier brothers, immigrants from France, opened a store aboard the ship La Ville de Paris to serve the Argonauts passing through San Francisco's harbor. In 1896 the business, which stayed in the family for over a century and a quarter, moved into a new building designed by architect Clinton Day, damaged by the 1906 earthquake, its interior was reconstructed by architects John Bakewell and Arthur J. Brown. The old City of Paris building was one of the finest examples of the beaux-arts style of commercial building in California.
Location: SE corner of Geary and Stockton Sts, San Francisco
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: SAN FRANCISCO NORTH NO. 88 NIANTIC HOTEL (BUILDING) - The emigrant ship Niantic stood on this spot in the early days 'when the water came up to Montgomery Street.' Converted to other uses, it was covered with a shingle roof with offices and stores on the deck, at the level of which was constructed a wide balcony surmounted by a veranda. The hull was divided into warehouses entered by doorways on the sides. The fire of May 3, 1851 destroyed all but the submerged hulk, which later was utilized as the foundation for the Niantic Hotel, a famous hostelry that stood until 1872.
Location: In lower level of Two Transamerica Center 505 Sansome at Clay, San Francisco NO. 89 SITE OF PARROTT GRANITE BLOCK - The Parrott Block was erected in 1852 by John Parrott, an importer and banker. The three-story building, built by Chinese labor, was of granite blocks brought from China. The 1906 earthquake and fire did little damage to the building, which soon thereafter reopened for business. In 1926 it was demolished to make way for the Financial Center Building.
Location: NW corner of California and Montgomery, San Francisco
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: SAN FRANCISCO NORTH NO. 90 FORT GUNNYBAGS - This is the site of the headquarters of the Vigilance Committee of 1856. On June 21, 1856, Judge David S. Terry was arrested and confined in a cell. The committee, fearing that his friends might attempt to rescue him, decided to fortify the building with gunnysacks filled with sand.
Location: S side of Sacramento between Davis and Front, San Francisco NO. 91 TELEGRAPH HILL - A signal station was erected on Telegraph Hill in 1849 from which to observe the incoming vessels, a tall pole with movable arms was used to signal to the people in the town below whether sailing vessels or the sidewheel vessels of the Pacific mail were passing through the Golden Gate. In September 1853, the first telegraph in California, which extended eight miles to Point Lobos, was stationed here, giving the hill its name.
Location: Lobby of Coit Tower, Telegraph Hill, San Francisco NO. 937 SITE OF INVENTION OF THE THREE-REEL BELL SLOT MACHINE - Charles August Fey invented the first coin-operated, three-reel slot machine in San Francisco in 1895. Fey continued to manufacture the popular 'Liberty Bell' gaming devices in a workshop located at 406 Market Street from 1897 to 1906, until the workshop was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire. The international popularity of the bell slot machines attested to Fey's ingenuity as an enterprising inventor whose basic design continues to be used in mechanical gaming devices today.
Location: Traffic island on N side of Market St between Bush and Battery Sts, San Francisco NO. 941 FARNSWORTH'S GREEN STREET LAB - In a simple laboratory on this site, 202 Green Street, Philo Taylor Farnsworth, U.S. pioneer in electronics, invented and patented the first operational all-electronic 'television system.' On September 7,1927 the 21-year-old inventor and several dedicated assistants successfully transmitted the first all-electronic television image, the major breakthrough that brought the practical form of this invention to mankind. Further patents formulated here covered the basic concepts essential to modern television. The genius of Green Street, as he was known, died in 1971.
Location: NW corner of Sansome and Green Sts, San Francisco NO. 974 GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE - Construction of the bridge started in 1933. Engineer Joseph Strauss and architect Irving Morrow created an extraordinarily beautiful bridge in an extraordinarily beautiful setting. The designs for the Golden Gate Bridge showed the greatest attention to artistic detail, especially on the two streamlined moderne towers. The bridge's 4,200 feet of clear span (from tower to tower) was the longest in the world until 1959. On April 19, 1937, the bridge was completed and the official dedication took place on May 27.
Location: Observation area, N end of bridge
USGS Quadrangle Sheet Name: SAN FRANCISCO NORTH NO. 987 TREASURE ISLAND-GOLDEN GATE INTERNATIONAL EXPOSITION, 1939-40 - This artificial island was constructed of bay sand in 1936-7. It was the site of the Golden Gate International Exposition, February 18, 1939-September 29, 1940. Tall towers, gigantic goddesses and dazzling lighting effects turned the Island into a 'Magic City.' The exposition celebrated the ascendancy of California and San Francisco as economic, political and cultural forces in the increasingly important Pacific Region. From 1939 to 1944 the Island was the landing site for flights of the China Clipper. Treasure Island has been a U.S. Naval Station since 1941.
Location: Naval Station, Treasure Island, San Francisco
See Also: Statewide Historical Landmarks listed by County
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