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25000 BC
San Francisco and the Bay Area were home to mammoths indicating cold temperatures of an Ice Age. In 1934 a 10-pound mammoth tooth from this time was found by engineers working on the new Bay Bridge.
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1579 Jun 17
Sir Francis Drake sailed into a bay in Northern California and proclaimed English sovereignty over New Albion (California). Some claim that Sir Francis Drake sailed into the SF Bay. Sir Francis Drake claimed the area for England. The location may have been Drake’s Bay or Bolinas Lagoon. In 1999 there were 17 proposed locations for his landing with the latest set in Oregon and described by Bob Ward in the book "Lost Harbor Found." A brass plate, allegedly left by Drake, was found in 1993, but determined to be a fake in 1977. In 2012 Drake’s Cove in Point Reyes was designated as the site where Drake landed and named a national historic site.
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1772 Apr 2
Father Juan Crespi looked out over a bay, later called Suisun Bay, and believed he had found the fabled Northwest Passage, a shortcut to the Colorado River. After Father Serra established a mission in Monterey, Ca, Pedro Fages and Father Juan Crespi had set out to explore the SF Bay by land.
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1775 Aug 5
Spanish Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala and his crew of 30 became the first European explorers to sail into the San Francisco Bay. He anchored at Angel Island and waited for the overland expedition of Captain Juan Bautista de Anza. Angel Island was one of the first landforms named by the Spanish when they entered SF Bay. The 58-foot Spanish fregata, Punta de San Carlos, was the first sailing vessel to enter the SF Bay while on a voyage of exploration. Ayala named Alcatraz Island after a large flock of pelicans, called alcatraces in Spanish.
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1775 Sep 29
Mexican Captain Juan Bautista de Anza (39) and his party of Spanish soldiers and setters departed Tubac, Arizona, on a journey to the SF Bay Area following reports of a great river flowing into the bay. Anza led 240 soldiers, priests and settlers to Monterey. Jose Manuel Valencia was one of the soldiers. His son, Candelario Valencia, later served in the military at the Presidio and owned a ranch in Lafayette and property next to Mission Dolores. One of the soldiers was Don Salvio Pacheco.
Links: California, Mexico, SF, Arizona, SF Bay Area, Explorer     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1776 Mar 28
Mexican Captain Juan Bautista de Anza, Lt. Jose Moraga, and Franciscan priest Pedro Font arrived at the tip of San Francisco. De Anza planted a cross at what is now Fort Point. They camped at Mountain Lake and searched inland for a more hospitable area and found a site they called Laguna de los Dolores or the Friday of Sorrows since the day was Friday before Palm Sunday. Anza became known as the “father of SF.” Mission Dolores was founded by Father Francisco Palou and Father Pedro Cambon. Rancho San Pedro, near what is now Pacifica, served as the agricultural center. Laguna de los Dolores was later believed to be a spring near the modern-day corner of Duboce and Sanchez.
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1776 Mar 31
Captain Juan Bautista de Anza and a crew that included such names as Castro, Peralta, Bernal, Moraga, Alviso and Berryessa, among others, arrived at the eastern side of the San Francisco Bay on a 5-day expedition to explore the area.
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1806 Apr
Nicolai Rezanov (42), a director of the Russian-American Co., arrived in SF aboard the Juno. He had proposed a California outpost to serve the Russian colonies in Alaska and sailed south to establish a settlement on the Columbia River but could not land there due to difficult seas. He sailed south to the Presidio at Monterey and negotiated a trade deal with Commander Jose Arguello. He also fell in love with Concepcion Arguello (d.1857), the daughter of Commander Arguello, and proposed marriage. He died that winter while crossing Siberia. In 2013 Owen Matthews “Glorious Misadventures: Nikolai Rezanov and the Dream of a Russian American.”
Links: Russia, USA, California, SF, Siberia, SF Bay Area     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1810
1813
Boston-based whalers slaughtered an estimated 150,000 fur seals on the Farallon Islands, 28 miles west of San Francisco. Russian hunters followed and occupied the islands for the next 25 years during which they wiped out the remaining fur seals. Fur seals began to return around 1977, but their first pup wasn’t born until 1996.
Links: Russia, USA, California, Massachusetts, Animal, SF Bay Area     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1820
The Mexican government granted Luis Peralta (1759-1851) the 44,800-acre Rancho San Antonio in the East Bay of northern California, for his military services. The rancho ran from San Leandro Creek to a rise known as El Cerrito. Peralta settled in San Jose, while his four sons took over the land grant. The Peralta Hacienda in Oakland was built in 1870.
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1834
Mexico granted Don Salvio Pacheco 18,000 acres in northern California known as Monte del Diablo, which included what would later became Concord and Walnut Creek. The family later donated land to the government for roads and public buildings. The area was originally inhabited by the Bolbones Indians.
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1837
John Marsh (1799-1856), Harvard graduate and Minnesota Indian agent, bought Rancho de Los Meganos east of Mount Diablo and became the 1st American in the San Joaquin Valley. He purchased the Rancho Los Meganos from Jose Noriega for $300 in cowhides. The land stood where the hills of Contra Costa met the San Joaquin Valley. He built a stone Gothic mansion in 1856. In 2002 plans were made to restore the Marsh House.
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1842
Nantucket Capt. Gorham Nye sailed into Yerba Buena, later known as San Francisco, and sold several goats to traders. A local character named Jack Fuller proposed to businessman Nathan Spear to buy some of the goats and raise them on Yerba Buena Island, which became known as Goat Island.
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1846
Robert Semple, a Kentucky-born printer, dentist, lawyer, physician and riverboat pilot, helped lead the Bear Flag Revolt. He helped take Gen’l. Vallejo prisoner and with financier Thomas O. Larkin paid Vallejo $100 to become co-owner of 5 sq. miles around Benicia. Larkin was the American ambassador to California and had been sent by Pres. Polk to encourage the Californios to defect to the US.
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1847
In Palo Alto (tall tree) a tamped-earth adobe home was built on the 4,400 acre Rancho Purisima Concepcion of the Briones family. In 1954 California declared the site a historic landmark. In 1987 Palo Alto declared the home on Old Adobe Road a historic landmark. In 2011 the California Supreme Court cleared the way for demolition of the home.
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1849 Feb 28
The steamer California, sounding the first steamship whistle on the SF Bay, arrived in SF with San Francisco postmaster John W. Geary on board carrying mail for the Pacific coast. Steamboat service began from Panama City to SF. Pacific Mail Steamship Co. sent the side-wheel steamship California to SF with American gold-seekers and 50 Peruvian miners. Also onboard were preacher Osgood C. Wheeler (32) and his wife Elizabeth.
Links: USA, California, Postage, SF, SF Bay Area     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1849
William Slusher, a farmer from the East Coast, built a cabin on Nuts Creek (later Walnut Creek, Ca.) and became the first American settler in the area.
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1849
Irishman Thomas H. Dowling settled on Goat island in the SF Bay about this time and built a house, a dock and started a quarry. The US Army, citing a claim that the government owned all the islands in the SF Bay, ejected Dowling and his family from the island in 1867.
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1850
Ygnacio, the grandson of Dona Juana Sanchez de Pacheco, built the first homestead in the Walnut Creek area of northern California.
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1851
About 775 abandoned ships sat in the SF Bay. Some began to be used as offices and public buildings. The ship Euphemia became the city’s 1st jail and insane asylum. An enterprising barkeep cut a hole in the beached sailing vessel Arkansas and began selling what he called “Gud, Bad and Ind’ifferent Spirits” at 25 cents each. The Old Ship Saloon at Pacific Avenue and Battery Street was built in 1907 and remodeled in 1999.
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1852
Almaden Vineyards was begun by Etienne Thee, an émigré from France, who settled near Los Gatos, Ca.
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1852
Francis Kittredge Shattuck homesteaded 160 acres in the East Bay of the San Francisco Bay. This area became most of downtown Berkeley, Ca.
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1853 Apr 11
A steam line burst on SF Bay ferry Jenny Lind as it made its way from Alviso to San Francisco. 31 passengers were killed.
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1854
1857
David Kerr charted more than 100 sq. miles of the San Francisco Bay Area marshland for the US Coast Survey, the first federal mapping agency.
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1856 Jul 7
In California the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors held their 1st meeting at the general store of John Vogan on Main Street in Redwood City. The county had just recently been created.
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1856 Sep 24
John Marsh, Harvard graduate and pioneer California settler, was murdered on the road between Pacheco and Martinez while traveling to SF. Marsh was the 1st non-Hispanic to live in Contra Costa County. He had made a fortune attracting settlers to Contra Costa and selling them land. His new 7,000 stone mansion in Brentwood was later made the center-piece of the John Marsh/Cowell Ranch State Park.
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1856
In Oakland, Ca., steam beer production began at a site that later became known as Golden West Brewery, which produced the Golden Glow Beer and Ale labels. Operations shut down in 1959.
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1857 Dec 23
Sister Mary Dominica Arguello (b.1791), formerly Concepcion Arguello, died in at the Dominican convent in Benicia, Ca. At age 15 she had fallen in love with Nicolai Rezanov (1764-1806), a visiting chamberlain to the czar of Russia. [see 1806]
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1857
In Oakland, Ca., Theophilide St. Germaine and her husband, a French count, built a structure at 301 Broadway to serve as a wine shop. In 2014 the building, home to Vegan Soul Food, was believed to be the oldest structure in the city.
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1859
The Shafter family of San Francisco bought 50,000 acres of West Marin pastures for dairy farms. The land was eventually divided into individual ranches, each designated by a letter. In 2009 the B Ranch shut down dairy production due to falling milk prices and rising costs.
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1860
The 25-room Burgess Mansion, later known as the Secret Garden Mansion, was built in The Corners, renamed Walnut Creek in 1862.
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1860
The Leech House was built in The Corners, later Walnut Creek, Ca. In 2006 it stood as a restaurant and offices at 1533 N. Main St.
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1862
The Corners area by Mt. Diablo, Ca., changed its name to Walnut Creek following the arrival of a post office.
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1863 Sep 1
RR and ferry connections between SF and Oakland were inaugurated. Southern Pacific had begun running steam trains in the East Bay this year.
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1863
Oakland, Ca., opened the Stranger’s Plot at the Mountain View Cemetery for the bodies of its poor, unknown, suicides and criminals. Some 500 people were buried there until WWI.
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1863
The rails of the SF & San Jose Railroad were completed to San Mateo. The Santa Clara depot opened as the first station on the line.
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1865
The oldest grave at the local Rose Hill cemetery in Antioch, Ca., dated to this time. In the 1860s mines were blasted into the Antioch hills near Mt. Diablo to mine coal. Black Diamond was the largest coal mining operation in California until the turn of the century.
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1866
The US government bought land around northern California’s Golden Gate for harbor defense. The area was turned into the Old Lime Point military reservation.
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1867
Physician Samuel Merritt became the 13th mayor of Oakland, Ca., and served to 1869. He donated 155 acres of dammed tidal water from the headwaters of Indian Slough, which became known as "Merritt's Lake" and later as Lake Merritt.
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1868 Oct 21
A major earthquake, later estimated at magnitude 7, took place on the Hayward Fault in northern California. It destroyed the top of the San Mateo County Courthouse. At this time only 265,000 people lived in the Bay Area. The Marine Hospital at Rincon Point was badly damaged and forced to close.
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1868
Enoch Pardee (1826-1896), an eye doctor from San Francisco, built an Italianate mansion on 11th Street in Oakland. It was later turned into the Pardee Home Museum. In 1876 Pardee was elected to a single term as Mayor of Oakland. His only child, George C. Pardee, also became a respected medical doctor and politician and was elected as Oakland Mayor between 1893 to 1895. George C. Pardee later served a single term as Governor of California from 1903 to 1907.
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1868
A tidal slough was dammed to form Lake Merritt and connected Oakland, Ca., to the lumber port of Brooklyn. After 2 years of incorporation Brooklyn residents voted themselves out of existence.
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1870 Mar 18
The 1st US National Wildlife Preserve was Lake Merritt in Oakland, Calif. Lake Merritt, actually a tidal lagoon, was named after Samuel Merritt, a physician and one of the 1st mayors of Oakland.
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1870 Nov 3
Laura Fair (33) shot and killed Alexander Parker Crittenden (47) as he was about to depart an Oakland, Ca., ferry with his wife and son. They had been carrying a long-term adulterous affair in which Crittenden had lied from the start Fair (d.1919) was initially found guilty and sentenced to death, but was freed on appeal by reason of temporary insanity. In 2013 Carole Haber authored “The Trials of Laura Fair: Sex Murder and Insanity in the Victorian West.”
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1870
Merchant Albert Dibblee purchased the Ross family estate in Marin County, Ca. The property later constituted much of the town of Ross.
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1872
In Nevada Francis Marion "Borax" Smith (d.1931) found borax in Peel’s Marsh. In 1890 he developed the Pacific Coast Borax Company to transport the borax on a 1-day, 169-mile trip from Death Valley to a railhead at Mohave with the famed 20-mule team. He later consolidated the SF Bay Area trolley lines into the Key System.
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1873
The Univ. at Berkeley became part of the Univ. of California and was required by law to admit women. The first roofed halls opened at Berkeley and Daniel Coit Gilman from Yale served as the first president of the new state university until 1875, when he accepted an offer at Johns Hopkins.
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1873
The big coho salmon runs of Marin County, Ca., began to decline when the first of seven dams was built in the Lagunitas Creek watershed.
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1874
Union Pacific completed a cavernous, brick, train repair shed in West Oakland. It was shuttered in 2002 and in 2010 was scheduled for demolition.
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1874
A tunnel was carved through the solid Franciscan rock for Hibernia Bank cofounder Richard Tobin. He wanted to be able to ride his buggy back and forth between his family’s city home and their house in Rockaway Beach, Pacifica, south of Daly City. Nature delivered the coup de grace to Tobin’s Folly in 1906, when the SF earthquake reportedly knocked off most of the rock tunnel and threw it into the ocean.
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1875 Jan
In the SF Bay Area a tunnel near Pacifica’s Mussel Rock, commissioned by SF attorney Richard Tobin, was completed. Storms soon rendered the tunnel impassable and the project was abandoned.
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1875
1935
In San Jose, Ca., a paupers graveyard was used as the final resting spot for those who died at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. In the 1950s the site was covered by a parking lot. In 2012 it was re-discovered during excavation work for a new building.
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1879
The Hercules Powder Works began manufacturing explosives north of Richmond, Ca. Production later shifted to fertilizer and continued until 1964. As the company moved out residential developers moved in and the town of Hercules took the company name.
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1883
The Brooks and Carey Saloon opened on Mission Road, Colma, Ca. It was later renamed the Brooksville Hotel. Frank Molloy purchased the place from Patrick Brooks in 1929 and renamed it Molloy's. In 2012 the purchase date was said to be 1927.
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1886 May 10
The US Supreme Court ruling in Santa Clara County v Southern Pacific Railroad dealt with taxation of railroad properties. A unanimous decision, written by Justice Harlan, ruled on the matter of fences, holding that the state of California illegally included the fences running beside the tracks in its assessment of the total value of the railroad's property. As a result, the county could not collect taxes from Southern Pacific that it was not allowed to collect in the first place.
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1888 Aug 22
The City of Chester, a 202-foot passenger steamship, sank as it left the San Francisco Bay after colliding with the incoming ocean line Oceanic. 16 people died including 3 crew members and 13 men, women and children. Wreckage of the Chester was found in May, 2013, in 217 feet of water near the Golden Gate Bridge.
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1889
The North Pacific Coast Railroad established a train station in Marin County called Manzanita atop a shell mound site previously settled by coastal Miwok Indians. In 1906 a liquor license was granted for an establishment there called Manzanita Villa and in 1916 a building was erected for a hotel and dance hall by Thomas, James and George Moore, SF liquor and cigar dealers. In 1947 new owners built a motel behind the building and renamed it “The Fireside.” In 1957 2 skeletons of American Indians were found during renovation. In 2008 the site was re-developed as a new affordable housing complex.
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1889
The Hills of Peace (Home of Peace) and Hills of Eternity Jewish cemeteries were established in Lawndale (Colma), Ca.
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1889
Juana Briones (b.1802), SF businesswoman and Santa Clara County rancho owner, died.
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1890
The Pacific Coast Borax Company, a United States mining company, was founded by the American borax magnate Francis Marion Smith.
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