This web site is the outgrowth of a trilogy of books based on first-hand accounts written by men, women, and children who were in San Francisco during the period 1835-1906. Its primary purpose is to share some of these stories with a wider audience than can be reached by the books alone. Secondly, we hope the site will encourage people—wherever in the world they may be—to share with us any similar first-person accounts they may have, either in their own family possession or at their local libraries or historical societies

These first-hand accounts are emotional bridges to the past, revealing human frailties with which many of us today can relate. They give us insight into what it must have been like living through historic events or time frames. In other words, they give life to history!

San Francisco City Hall took 26 years to build at a cost of $6,000,000. 
It collapsed in 60 seconds during the earthquake of April 18, 1906.

Photo: Courtesy Gary Sterling

Below is a list of extracts you can read on this site. For a broader idea of topics and names included in the books (not necessarily on this site), use the search feature. For the sake of authenticity, no attempt has been made to modernize the spelling, punctuation, or sentence structure in these stories.

Search for:

1835    Before Golden Gate Bridge was built.   Richard Henry Dana
1846    Raising the flag.   Joseph T. Downey
1851    French women in Gold Rush days.   Albert Benard de Russailh
1851    Cost of living in 1851.   Albert Benard de Russailh
1861    Bummer meets Lazarus.   Anon.
1877    The streets of San Francisco in 1877.   Guillermo Prieto
1877    Tourists in an opium den.   Miriam Florence Leslie
1889    Rudyard Kipling rides the cable car.   Rudyard Kipling
1906    "I was buried and in complete darkness." William Stehr
1906    Jack London and the fleeing refugees.  Jack London
1906    Caruso’s version of 1906 quake.   Enrico Caruso

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