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Outside Lands Podcast Episode 464: The 1876 Centennial in San Francisco

To celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, post-Civil War San Francisco in 1876 was ready to party. Celebration events were held throughout the young City and even on the West Side.
- Jul 9, 2022

Outside Lands Podcast Episode 464: The 1876 Centennial in San Francisco Outside Lands Podcast Episode 464: The 1876 Centennial in San Francisco

Podcast Transcription

WNP464 – Centennial in SF

Nicole: [00:00:00] It's Outside Lands San Francisco, podcast of the Western Neighborhoods Project. I'm Nicole Meldahl.

Arnold: And I'm Arnold Woods.

Nicole: Hey Arnold. How's it going?

Arnold: Well, pretty much just like you Nicole. We are tired all the time because we are spending all of our time at the Cliff House in The Museum at The Cliff.

Nicole: It's true, I'm there right now. It's kinda like we're the parents of a newborn baby.

Arnold: And we'll talk about this a little bit more towards the end of the podcast.

Nicole: It’s true.

Arnold: But it's going swimmingly so far.

Nicole: It's true. And I'm drinking tonight.

Arnold: Always a good start.

Nicole: Exactly. So, if this and the next podcast get a little sloppy, it's because I'm overjoyed with accomplishments. But anyhow, [00:01:00] this week our country celebrated the 246th anniversary of its founding in 1776. And many people still remember the grand celebrations of 1976 for the 200th anniversary. In fact, I remember it like I was there, because I have cataloged so many collections that include robust celebrations from 1976. And the country really goes all out for those big, whole number birthdays and anniversaries. So, what kind of party did we have right here in San Francisco, when the USA turned 100 back in 1876? The Civil War that tore this country apart was still pretty fresh in people's minds then. So, the centennial presented an opportunity for the country to heal some divisions. In Philadelphia, for example, the city threw the first World's Fair to be held in the United States, as part of their centennial celebration, which, you know, makes sense, if you know anything about American history.

Arnold: Which a lot of people don't. [00:02:00]

Nicole: No, and that's fine.

Arnold: Back here in San Francisco though, the city was all in for the country's 100th, even though the state and city had not been a part of the union for very long, only 26 years at that point.

Nicole: Which is wild.

Arnold: And despite its youth, San Francisco was already the largest city on the west coast and one of the 10 largest cities in the country. Thank you, gold rush.

Nicole: Yeah.

Arnold: Also, like the country, San Francisco was actually celebrating its own 100th anniversary of its founding, by the Spanish in 1776. That's when Juan Batista de Anza got here to set up the Presidio and Mission Dolores got established. In 1876, not a whole lot to be found out on the West side of San Francisco yet. You had the beginnings of Golden Gate Park, you had the Cliff House, a few other roadhouses. Some people lived out here still then. But much of what we were about to talk about actually didn't [00:03:00] occur on the West side. However, there are some key parts of the festivities that did occur in the Outside Lands, both in the Presidio and out in the Golden Gate. So, we're gonna get into this anyway. And the city of San Francisco certainly got into it and they kicked off 1876 with a bang.

Nicole: Oh, just you wait listeners. On December 30th, 1875, the just-elected mayor Andrew Jackson Bryant, typically known as AJ Bryantm because anybody who was named after a former president almost always went by the initials for their first name. Because he was obviously named for President Andrew Jackson, who was very controversially these days, as well, when he was born in 1831. So, he issues a proclamation stating, and may I quote, “I recommend that the opening of the centennial year shall be celebrated in this city in the following manner. The fire bells will be rung for five minutes at midnight Friday.” Oh my [00:04:00] God, yes. “Permission to make bonfires and fire salutes can be obtained at this office, and a policeman will be detailed by the chief of police at each fire. I suggest that all the church bells in the city be rung at midnight for half an hour and that on Saturday the national flag be displayed on all public buildings, places of amusement and business, and on the shipping in the harbor from sunrise to sunset. I invite the assistance of all citizens in making a celebration worthy of the day.” Epic.

Arnold: And I kinda wanted to know what a fire salute is.

Nicole: I mean, I just like that he was like, you can just all make fires but, but, let's send a policeman to make sure you don't get crazy about it. I'm looking at you, Mission District, on the 4th of July.

Arnold: Chronicle did state that Mayor Bryant did not want to lag behind the quote, “eastern sister cities inappropriately ushering in the new year.” Because [00:05:00] again, that little sister status that San Francisco kept feeling.

Nicole: Still feels.

Arnold: We wanna do what the big boys are doing.

Nicole: We're the big boys. So, in February 1876, for Washington's Birthday, the Women's Centennial Committee of San Francisco threw a Centennial Ball at Union Hall, because women know how to get it done. The tickets for the Centennial Ball were fashioned as shares of Centennial Stock, because we are nothing if not a capitalist country. This stock had no real value other than a feeling of patriotism for those who bought them, which is sort of what the stock market feels like in a recession. Apparently, the buyers received an engraved certificate, and we have to assume that a few of these certificates have survived through the ensuing century and a half, handed down from generation to generation. So, anyone listening to this podcast, do you have [00:06:00] one of these certificates? Have you maybe thrown one of these certificates away in the last five to 10 years? Let us know. Email us at podcast@outsidelands.org. So, the proceeds of the Centennial Ball were used to help fund the Philadelphia World's Fair Centennial Exposition. And similar balls were held in other cities across the country for the same purpose. I wish we would get back into the habit of throwing luxurious balls, because I just watched the whole season of Bridgerton, and I'm really wishing we did more of these. But anyways, to wrap up, the Women's Centennial Committee also had a series of teas to raise even more money for the major Philly celebration, and I am also here for that.

Arnold: For that ball, Union Hall, which presumably is where the unions congregated, it was scrubbed down perhaps like it had [00:07:00] never been scrubbed down before.

Nicole: Ah, that's how I feel you and I and the Cliff House every Friday, Arnold.

Arnold: The Chronicle noted that the ladies of the committee were indef, indefatigable in their efforts to clean up the hall.

Nicole: I can't believe you put that word in there. That's such a hard word.

Arnold: That is not a word I should have stuck in the notes. In any event, streamers and balloons in the national red, white, and blue colors are strung from the central chandelier to all sides of the building. Baskets and green globes are suspended from the ceiling. Foliage and calla lilies line the fountains. On the front of the east gallery of the building they inscribe the words “Union Hall, San Francisco, 1876.” And at the front of the west gallery on the opposite side, they inscribe “Independence Hall, Philadelphia, 1776.” These inscriptions were in white letters on a red background to reflect the patriotic nature of them.

Nicole: America! The names of George Washington and [00:08:00] Ulysses S. Grant, both important American generals and later presidents, were placed above the north entrance of the hall. Remember, this is before anybody questioned any of the major male figures in American history. Okay? So just bear with us on this one. A Washington bust was placed at the center of the stage in front of the orchestra flanked by ferns and century plants, and I don't know what that is.

Arnold: It's a succulent plant which grows very big.

Nicole: Oh. Some of those might be nice in the WNP office. The stairway featured a potted plant on every step. And you know, I'm down for having plants everywhere. Even the toilets in the hall were described as “new,” “handsome” and “becoming.” It appears that no expense was spared to make this a special occasion.

Arnold: Now the ball itself was a late affair. At 9:00 PM, barely anyone was there. However, by 10:00 PM, Union [00:09:00] Hall was filling out.

Nicole: This is how balls were back then. It's wild to me. I guess a lot of these women didn't have day jobs, so it didn't matter. Like, yeah, they started super late and they went all night and all morning long.

Arnold: And we're gonna find that out with another ball that happens as part of these whole centennial thing going on. In this one, as the Chronicle describes it, the hall and dressing rooms were crowded with the, quote, “beauty and fashion of the city.” The paper went on to note that the, quote, “very best that San Francisco has to show in the way of social elegance and intellect was represented and all at their best.” This tells me that they were keeping out the riff raff.

Nicole: Yeah. It also reminds me of any event that WNP throws.

Arnold: The hall was entirely filled from the galleries above to the raised platforms on the sides, and all the seats in the standing room.

Nicole: In the upstairs hall, dinner for 450 people was laid out. Patrons [00:10:00] who paid for the dinner were charged the then expensive price… Are you ready for this? $1.50. The dinner was catered by Frederick Haubrich, who ran Martin's Restaurant at 623 Commercial Street between Montgomery and Kearny Streets. Haubrich was described as, and I quote, “thoroughly familiar with all the elegancies of the table, and thoroughly understood the gastronomical wants of this community.”

Arnold: In other words, he catered to the rich in the city.

Nicole: So, he's the Michael Minna of his day. Despite the exorbitant buck-fifty price of the meal, wine and champagne were charged separately. Aw. Now that's not a very classy move. Haubrich's menu included turkey, chicken, oysters, cold cuts, as well as jellies, fruits, creams, ices, and many more things that went unlisted in the Chronicle story. It was just past midnight when the tables for diners started [00:11:00] filling. And also, I wanna make a case for bringing jellies back because I don't think there's enough gelatinous food served in fancy establishments.

Arnold: We'll take a note of that and make sure to pass it on to every restaurateur we see.

Nicole: Leaving a little card, it was like, dinner was fabulous. However, I would like to see more jellies.

Arnold: This being a ball, there was, of course, some dancing going on. And all the music and dancing started early. It was nearly midnight before the Minuet de la Cour, regarded as one of the great ballroom dance songs was played by the orchestra, led by its bandleader, Nathan Ballenberg. For the minuet, 12 couples were featured on the dance floor, and they were mostly military men and society ladies.

Nicole: Ooh.

Arnold: The women were decked out in actual antique dresses from 1776.

Nicole: My god, yes!

Arnold: Which they must have imported from the [00:12:00] East coast for this occasion, since I don't think San Francisco of 1776 had much of these.

Nicole: Well, some of the Spanish ladies were dressed quite fine here, I will say.

Arnold: Maybe not in 1776 when the original party arrived, though.

Nicole: There were one or two.

Arnold: In any event, these outfits are described as, quote, “silks and satins cut in ancient fashion, heavy with brocade.” Chronicle article about the ball actually gave detailed descriptions of the attire of nearly 50 of the ladies present. We will not repeat that detail here as we do not have the time and would likely bore most of you, although maybe not Nicole.

Nicole: Yeah, I was like, speak for yourself, Arnold. Is this the kind of b-roll things that people will pay extra for me just reading descriptions of 50 heavily overdressed women?

Arnold: Perhaps.

Nicole: Let us know listeners.

Arnold: And if that sort of [00:13:00] thing does interest you, you can look up the Chronicle story about the Centennial Ball yourself. Because again, there’s almost 50 paragraphs of descriptions of these costumes.

Nicole: I’m here for it.

Arnold: Some of the men at the ball were also dressed in fashionable suits and tuxes from 1776.

Nicole: So many tights.

Arnold: And besides the minuet, the band played some lively opera selections, a variety of patriotic music, and, because Ballenberg was directing the whole thing, some of his own compositions.

Nicole: Kinda like John Lindsey putting himself in his own show here  Shade.

Arnold: The dance floor was described as being comfortably filled.

Nicole: Yeah, so the Centennial Ball party went very late into the night and was called the finest one in San Francisco history, which at 26 years old, probably wasn't hard to up, outdo. It eclipsed the Grand Russian Ball [00:14:00] of 1861. Should that be our next podcast?

Arnold: We really do have to learn what happened at the Grand Russian Ball of 1861.

Nicole: I’m here for it.

Arnold: Unfortunately, it's probably not West side related at all.

Nicole: Well, we do wanna do Russians in the Richmond, so…

Arnold: There we go.

Nicole: We could, like, theoretically stretch ourselves, in that direction.

Arnold: There's our connection. For the Independence Day festivities of 1876, a general committee of 150 people, and when I say people, this is probably all men…

Nicole: Yeah, a hundred percent.

Arnold: Were appointed to produce the gala.

Nicole: Yeah. Sometimes ladies get involved in stuff like this, where they're like, you do the floral arrangements.

Arnold: In May 1876, the grandly named Pacific Coast Centennial Committee met to choose a grand marshal of the planned parade. And really the only names they were considering were people who were actually already on that committee.

Nicole: Yeah.

Arnold: So, two names get nominated. They are San Francisco Supervisor D.A. McDonald, and Colonel J.D. Stevenson, [00:15:00] who was then the committee chair. However, maybe to his credit, upon being nominated, Colonel Stevenson gave what was called a “sharp little speech” decrying the politics that had crept into the committee.

Nicole: The more things change, the more things don't change.

Arnold: Right.

Nicole: Yeah.

Arnold: And he said he could not be Grand Marshall if he had to politic for the position. Immediately, a resolution to keep politics out of the committee business was introduced and quickly adopted. Nonetheless, Colonel Stevenson declined to be considered for Grand Marshall and Supervisor McDonald then gets unanimously elected for that position.

Nicole: So many things to say that I won't say. On May 10th, 1876, the Philadelphia Centennial World's Fair Exposition opened. And meanwhile, locals continued their planning for July festivities. A $10,000 appropriation was made for the celebration, which they plan to [00:16:00] have, to last three days from July 3rd to July 5th. And they figured another $2,000 would be needed and planned to raise it from the citizenry. The plans included parades, concerts, fireworks, a regatta, and military exercises. And the committee was expecting many tourists from around the country to attend. And I want to make another plug: San Francisco doesn't do enough parades anymore. We got marathons coming out the wazoo, every 20 minutes. But, like, parades, we need to bring back more of.

Arnold: A few days later. on May 15th, 1876, General James Coey, who was the president of the day for the organizing committee because apparently there was a daily rotating position among the committee members to be president of the day.

Nicole: That makes no sense.

Arnold: Yeah. I hope there was 150 days there, so that every member could be president for the day. Anyway, he issues a patriotic proclamation about why the centennial was special [00:17:00] and announced the program events that were planned. However, Coey did note that the program could change as may be necessary by circumstances. And before the festivities on Monday, July 3rd, 1876 to Wednesday, July 5th, 1876, the committee asked that pastors and other religious leaders of the local churches and synagogues give, quote, “appropriate sermons.” The committee went so far as to later ask the city's pastors to forward a copy of their sermons, ostensibly for publication in a pamphlet, but this sounds like the committee was looking to maybe pre-approve the sermons that were gonna be given by those religious leaders.

Nicole: So complicated. In June, the city was divided into districts for collectors to go door to door to fundraise the rest of the monies needed for their plans, which was described as a chance for citizens to show their patriotism. And maybe WNP's new fundraising plan. Show your local community patriotism. Give [00:18:00] to Western Neighborhoods Project.  Anywhoseit. The committee also announced that a number of local buildings would be adorned with pictures and flowers, flags, and other decorations, including large wreaths over Kearny and Montgomery Streets. A triumphal arch at a cost of $2,000 was built at the corner of Kearny and Sutter Streets by two, and I quote, “first class artists.” Arches are also a thing that we need to bring back, because they made those all the time for the streets downtown. In addition, an evergreen arch with the names of Washington and Lafayette prominently displayed, was built across Montgomery Street. And, of course, local citizens did a great deal of decorating on their own. And we should note, at this time, advertising was rife with centennial decorations and fireworks sales in all the local papers. Many hotels reportedly being fully booked for the holiday celebrations.

Arnold: So, we're getting close to the actual [00:19:00] time. And on Sunday, July 2nd, the Chronicle published a centennial edition of the paper.

Nicole: Ooh.

Arnold: It included articles about what San Francisco was like a hundred years before, juxtaposed with how it was in 1876. Articles about how Independence Day had been celebrated and what they were calling the Golden City in years past. I don’t, we don't use Golden City enough here in San Francisco. It also included patriotic poems and, of course, a guide to the upcoming festivities.

Nicole: And as July 4th, approach, San Francisco prepared for a battle. Not a real one, of course. But nonetheless, on July 3rd, 1876, the Presidio staged a mock battle to begin the city's Independence Day festivities. And who doesn't love a mock battle. As early as 6:00 AM, throngs of people began arriving to set up shop on the hills around the Presidio grounds to watch this fake battle. [00:20:00] The crush of people trying to get there was so huge, that the Sutter Street railway was taking an hour and a half to make the trip from the ferries to the Presidio. Additionally, people found viewing spots as far away as Telegraph Hill, Russian Hill, and Black Point. Numerous boats of all types filled the waters around the Presidio. Most of them really overfilled with passengers. One boat, the Princess, listed heavily to port because of the large number of people aboard. And estimates were that a crowd of 85,000 people watched the, from the Presidio hillsides alone. Peanut and soda pop vendors wandered through the crowd selling their wares, which is also a San Francisco tradition. Shout out to the Tamale Lady.

Arnold: Speaking of San Francisco traditions, July 3rd started out with the usual fog.

Nicole: Amazing.

Arnold: But it lifted between 9:00 and 10:00 AM, leaving great views for the spectators. Before the battle, a review was [00:21:00] held on the parade grounds. Marching in the review were, in order, the 3rd Regiment, the 1st Regiment, the 2nd Regiment. Why those don't go first, second, third, I don't know. But that was the order they picked. But then the Vallejo Rifles, the Oakland Guard, two Artillery Corps, and a Calvary group. Brigadier General McComb of the California National Guard presided over the ensuing exercises, and he watched over the review along with the Presidio’s Commander, General Schofield and California Governor William Irwin. After the parade, McComb hosted a meal for the governor and staff officers in one of the garrison buildings.

Nicole: So, while they were dining, spectators were treated to a naval bombardment that began precisely at 11:00 AM. And why those men chose to eat instead of watch this, seems crazy to me. The various batteries ringing the Golden Gate began firing at a rock near Lime [00:22:00] Point, and a sacrificial fireboat. Shells were also fired from Fort Point, Alcatraz and Angel Islands. Black Point, which only fired blank cartridges, but nonetheless still managed to cause concern among the crowd there. And several naval vessels including the Pensacola, the Portsmouth, the Jamestown, and a steamer called the Saranac. As the firing began, a schooner cruised near the target fireboat, apparently unaware of when the shooting would begin. After a shell exploded nearby, its skipper finally realized the danger his boat was in. It began hightailing it out of there. Fortunately, despite some near misses, the schooner made it to Sausalito.

Arnold: Now we get to what is maybe my favorite part of this whole story.

Nicole: Ooh.

Arnold: To the dismay of spectators, the fireboat survived the barrage.

Nicole: Yes. Fireboat! This is the next Disney movie.

Arnold: One man who was watching in the crowd declared that for 20 [00:23:00] bucks he would board the fireboat and let them shoot at him all day. So, to make sure that this wasn't a complete loss, a tugboat finally gets dispatched out to the fireboat, where a man goes aboard to set fire to remove the, quote, “disgrace.” And then once the fire began, the Pensacola fired a blank shell that hit the boat to make it appear as if its shelling caused a fire. Crowds were not fooled, however, and reporters noted that people were not impressed with this bombardment. The military blamed gusty winds for their poor markmanship.

Nicole: So everyone, in case you're wondering if we could actually protect ourselves in the event of a real war, the answer's no. After the naval bombardment, the battle—really heavy air quotes here—paused so the crowd could have some lunch. Some spectators left then because they had expected the battlefield exercise to occur before the bombing display and thought [00:24:00] that the event was over. However, after lunch, the regiments engaged in their mock battle across the parade grounds. Soldiers fired with blank shells at the crest of a small ridge. Exhilarating. Batteries on the sides fired with a deafening roar. Horse troops were initially held in reserve, but when the batteries stopped, the cavalry engaged in a series of charges. The smoke on the battlefield made parts of the battle hard to see for spectators, however, and many of them were rushing around trying to get better views. So that sounds like the typical chaos in war. Although with different reasons.

Arnold: Sounds like the whole military exercises did not really go as planned that day.

Nicole: Maybe this is why we don't do these anymore.

Arnold: That night, however, the firemen of the Exempt Fire Company led a torchlight procession that went, and this is a long, complicated route that they went through, it went from Washington Street to Stockton, down to Broadway, then headed [00:25:00] south on Montgomery to Market briefly, before they turned on Second Street down to Mission, then to First, Howard, back to Second, then Folsom, Third, back to Mission, then to Fifth, back up to Market. before turning on Kearny and taking it all the way back to Washington. Yes, that is quite the complicated route. Along Market Street, huge crowds awaited them, and they even managed to remain orderly. In front of the possession, the Fourth Artillery Band and a Continental Drum Corps led the way. The torch lights that they were carrying were triangular lanterns with the three glass sides colored red, white, and blue.

Nicole: I want these.

Arnold: I'd like to see one of those too. I hope somebody saved one. Following the firemen, who additionally pulled the Broderick #1 fire engine, was the Industrial School band. And after them there was what they call the junior exempts, which were really the firemen’s sons pulling a small fire engine that they called the Little 49. [00:26:00]

Nicole: So quaint. There was some 500 people marching in the torchlight procession, which sounds a little creepy, but okay, I'm here for it. Along Market Street, the Gas Company building greeted them with some large jets in front of the building and hundreds of smaller jets enclosed in red, white, and blue glass globes, also sounds dangerous. St. Ignatius Church on Market Street had powerful blue electric lights to shine on the procession, which sounds awesome. St. Patrick's Church on Market was ringing patriotic songs on their chimes, and the whole parade lasted from 9:00 to 11:00 PM, which seems like a late time to have a parade, but okay.

Arnold: Of course, the following day, July 4th, marks the centennial of America's independence. It started out similarly, with thousands of people pouring into one place to watch the festivities. Like the night before, [00:27:00] that place is Market, Kearny and Montgomery Streets, as spectators found their spots for a huge Independence Day parade.

Nicole: So many parades.

Arnold: Crowds were so thick, the start of the parade had to be delayed in order for the marchers to actually get there. Finally, however, around 11:00 AM the parade kicks off with some mounted police, mounted Bugle Corps, and then the Grand Marshall Supervisor D.A. McDonald of the 12th Ward.

Nicole: What followed was four miles of marchers that included Mexican war veterans, the National Guard, various local celebrities called Distinguished Persons in the news reports of the day, other veterans, Society of California Pioneer members, Odd Fellows, all followed by a horse car representing Columbus landing in the West Indies. Oh my God, this is a 2022 nightmare. This horse car dressed up to look like a boat landing with Columbus about to step ashore, where a few Native Americans stood. Would not go over [00:28:00] very well today. And I hope when he got off, he was like, I think that I'm in India. Oh, no I'm not. Whatever. There were many more marchers after that, such as the Knights of Pythias, members of the Riggers and Stevedores Union, Post Office employees, cause why not? Members of German, Irish, and Italian societies, the Ancient Order of Hiberians, my favorite, the Brewers Association, the Native Sons of the Golden West, a Swiss Philharmonic Band, of course, the Portuguese Benevolent Association and members of the Milkmen and Butcher's Unions. What a lineup.

Arnold: And, in fact, in total it was estimated that 10,000 marchers paraded in front of 400,000 spectators.

Nicole: That's wild. What was the population of the city then?

Arnold: I doubt it was that much.

Nicole: Yeah.

Arnold: I'm sure people from all over the Bay Area were pouring into town.

Nicole: Wild.

Arnold: Views [00:29:00] of the festivities were so in demand that shop windows and balconies were rented out along the route. And the day ended with rockets, bonfires, and fireworks. Celebrations went long into the night. The last paragraph in the Chronicle story stated that the Independence Day merriment, quote, “surpasses description and will not likely be duplicated again for the next 100 years.”

Nicole: Perhaps correct.

Arnold: End quote. And, not so correct, because we have much bigger parades coming in the future, such as World War II Victory Parade, San Francisco Giants Arrival Parade and others that, much bigger. So that statement was a bit of, some probably believed it, but turns out to be a bit of hyper, hyperbole.

Nicole: You did these words to yourself, Arnold.

Arnold: I did.

Nicole: Well, you know, newspaper articles from back in the day were far more entertainment than they were information. Not unalike a lot of news agencies today, but we won't get on that here. So, after the parade, [00:30:00] Grand Marshall McDonald and other luminaries headed to the Mechanics Pavilion for a program of poems and speeches. Most or all of those poems and speeches were reprinted verbatim in the July 6th edition of the San Francisco Chronicle. Which did not publish a paper on July 5th because their staff was all enjoying the festivities on the 4th. In the evening, the Mechanics Pavilion hosted a masked ball. However, upon entering, each person was required to unmask briefly for inspection because apparently some less than chivalrous gentlemen had disguised themselves as women at prior masked balls in order to gain entrance to the ladies' dressing rooms.

Arnold: Men still pigs after 150 years.

Nicole: Some 4000…I'm just gonna have to take a [00:31:00] minute, because that is just ridiculous. Some 4,000 people showed up for the mask ball, though the pavilion could have held many more. The going theory was that people were so tired after two full days of Independence Day events. Numerous costume awards were given out around 1:00 AM in the morning. I need to know. I actually just recently had this conversation about why people in olden times had the stamina at a party all night and then like go about their daily lives. Because you know the thought now, as a woman push, pushing 40, of having to go out all night, feels awful.

Arnold: Well, the next day was still gonna be a holiday for them. So…

Nicole: Okay.

Arnold: Why not?

Nicole: Still, I'm like, oh no, I don't, like when a band is coming on at 10:00, I'm like, oh no.

Arnold: Anyways, we get to the final day of the celebration, July 5th. And that's when they held a large centennial regatta.

Nicole: Oh.

Arnold: It was [00:32:00] out on the bay. It was held by the San Francisco Yacht Club. Ships were broken out into four categories. There was first-class schooners. There were first-class sloops.

Nicole: Okay.

Arnold: Second-class yachts. And plungers. And for those of you out there who are in the know, please write to us and explain what a plunger is. I really want to know what that is.

Nicole: And no, I don't think it's related to toilets, so don't write us about that.

Arnold: There were seven ships racing in each of the first three categories and five plungers. The course for the first-class boats was longer than that for the second-class boats and the plungers. And yes, we are just gonna keep saying plungers because that is such a great name for a type of boat.

Nicole: It's like when you learn a new word and you work it into every sentence,

Arnold: Exactly. There was a yacht out on the course that was called The Lotus, and on that yacht were all the judges for this regatta.

Nicole: Naturally. We won't go into all the race details, although we just gave you a [00:33:00] lot, which were excitedly reported upon by all the papers. But there was racing as far as Oakland to the east and Fort Point to the west. The winds were reported to be quite strong, which was advantageous for the racers, but not so great for people standing on boats that were there just to watch the races. So here it is, the winners were as follows. The first-class schooner JC Cousins, which finished the course in three hours and six minutes. The first-class sloop Emerald, which finished in three hours and 29 minutes. The second-class yacht Gibson, which finished in an hour and a half. And oh, this is so good, a plunger called Annie, which completed its course in an hour and 28 minutes.

Arnold: I hope the plunger named Annie is preserved somewhere.

Nicole: Please, from now on just refer to me as the plunger we [00:34:00] call Annie. Actually, you know I take that back. Don't send me any lewd comments. Immediate regret. Immediate regret. Okay. The JC Cousins received a champion flag, which it could keep until the following year, as the San Francisco Yacht Club announced that it would hold a schooner's regatta every year.

Arnold: And I have no idea if they still do that or not. I assume they hold some kind of regatta still.

Nicole: We're not real plugged into the regatta crowd here. I don't know if you've picked up on that, WNP.

Arnold: This regatta ended San Francisco's three-day celebration of our country's independence 100 years prior. Essentially, it was a three-day, citywide, land and sea, military and civilian party. San Francisco's commemoration of the centennial of our country's independence turns out to be one of the grandest fetes in city history.

Nicole: Boy, I wish I could have experienced this, although [00:35:00] as much as I think it'd be great to like celebrate American independence from England in such a luxurious fashion, I don't think we'll ever do it again. Mostly because, I don't know about all of our listeners here, but I had a hard time getting in the patriotic spirit this year. And every time we try to do Fleet Week here, there's a lot of pushback on, it's a stupid waste of money and, you know, it's bad for the environment and this rampant militarism is unhealthy, blah, blah, blah. So…

Arnold: We’ll kinda see what, we'll kinda see what happens here. Four years from now is 250. So, you know something will get planned for that. I just don't know how big it will be.

Nicole: It's true. I think universally everyone likes fireworks. Like across the board.

Arnold: And San Francisco usually has fog at night on July 4th, so they're hard to see.

Nicole: But Pacifica fireworks are totally legal. So, everybody go [00:36:00] to Pacifica. I'm sorry, Pacifica. Alright, Arnold. What a fantastic podcast. But now it's time for a section we like to call, Say What Now?

Arnold: You know, we mentioned Mayor AJ Bryant back at the beginning of this podcast. And he was mayor of San Francisco from December 1875 to December 1879. And unfortunately, he was elected on a racist, anti-Chinese platform of cleaning up the, quote, “Chinese dens.” In fact, in his first message to the Board of Supervisors after his election, he declared that the Chinese dens were a disgrace to the city. And he recommended, and we are not making this up, erecting two, quote, “cheap rough buildings,” one for the men, one for the women, of these Chinese den areas, in which they would be fed, quote, “the cheap food to which they have been [00:37:00] accustomed and made to work upon public squares.” End quote. Bryant declared that this measure would drive the Chinese dens out of business within a year. And…

Nicole: Well, we have some good news, Arnold. Karma, as they say, is a bitch. So perhaps for his racist views, Bryant died in 1888 when he fell off a ferry boat from San Francisco to Oakland. Newspapers like the Chronicle and New York Times reported his death as a suicide, because of financial and physical problems and the testimony of a gatekeeper who reported that he was trembling at the time he bought his ticket. However, the coroner's report stated that it was an accidental death based on a boy's eyewitness account that he was walking along the rail when he staggered and fell overboard and appeared to be trying to swim after he entered the Bay. So yeah, hopefully that was a terrifying and awful end to his life.

Arnold: Unfortunately, I would bet that if you look at [00:38:00] many of the mayors of that period, many of them probably shared his racist sentiments.

Nicole: It'd be nice to look at one historical event and not be like, oh, look, a racist.

Arnold: Yeah, pretty much all of them back then.

Nicole: That’s true. Well, perhaps one day historians looking back in time…

Arnold: Although not the guy we talked about a couple weeks ago.

Nicole: Which one?

Arnold: The guy who wrote the anti-discrimination law for California.

Nicole: That's true. He was cool.

Arnold: Dibble, not dabble. Right?

Nicole: Dibble, not dabble. Okay, well, on this uplifting note, we're gonna get into our listener mail now, Arnold.

Arnold: And people can send us listener mail. And we've actually hit a few points in this podcast where we said, please explain these things to us. So, we hope somebody does. But the way you [00:39:00] do it is by sending an email to podcast@outsidelands.org. You can also hit us up on all the social media outlets. And one of the people chose one of those routes.

Nicole: Absolutely. We got an old-fashioned email that was sent to us saying, “Hi, Outside Lands gang. I just wanted to thank you so much for everything that you do to preserve the history of the city and for finding such special ways to present that history to the public. The podcast is truly a gem. I love listening every week. I also wanted to say that the OpenSFHistory map is so incredible and I'm so happy that it exists. Last weekend, myself and a fellow guerilla historian spent an afternoon walking nine miles and putting up 20 photos from the map around West Portal, Ingleside and Sunnyside. It was really fun and so, I'm appreciative of the people who took the time to add [00:40:00] captions and QR codes to all of these photos. We will absolutely be doing it again. Thank you for all you do.” So, we wanna thank Cooper for listening and becoming a guerilla historian. And we should give a shout out to our co-founder David Gallagher, for creating that entire system. It was definitely his baby from start to finish. So, thank you Cooper, and thank you David Gallagher.

Arnold: Thank David Gallagher, not just for the OpenSFHistory system, but for starting the guerilla history program as well.

Nicole: Hundred percent. Yeah. From start to finish. A David Gallagher joint.

Arnold: And for this week's listener email, we're also gonna make a clarion call to our listeners. Here's something else you can write us about. We are planning a Playland Memories podcast for Labor Day Weekend. That'll be the 50th anniversary of when it closed in 1972. So, if you visited Playland before it closed, please send us your memories of it. We are hoping to have numerous people relate their memories of Playland, either [00:41:00] live on the podcast or in an extended listener mail for that podcast. And we look forward to hearing your stories of Playland for this podcast.

Nicole: Yeah, and let me tell you, Arnold, we receive no better memories than from our members. So maybe this is a great time for me to explain the benefits of membership and donating. So, by becoming a member of Western Neighborhoods Project by clickety, clickety, clacking the big orange button at the top of any page on either one of our websites outsidelands.org or OpenSFHistory.org, you get not only the satisfaction of being part of the family, you get a quarterly membership magazine, which is sometimes mailed out on time.

Arnold: And which they will get real soon.

Nicole: Yes, it's coming! I know you're looking for it in your mailbox. It's coming. You get discounts on events and other exclusive perks. And, of course, your membership supports all [00:42:00] the amazing things we do that we rarely hit you up for. You've got OpenSFHistory, which Cooper uses to the full extent of its powers. You've got the Cliff House collection, its care and exhibition. And, of course, this podcast, which is free. We work so hard to make sure we don't charge for access to your history. And we wanna keep that trend moving forward. So, donate today. Even if you can't afford the $50 membership, like even if you throw us $5, $10, $20, it all adds up and it all helps us keep doing what we're doing.

Arnold: So, Nicole, now it's time for announcements.

Nicole: Ooh.

Arnold: And you talked about things we provide for free to the history loving community. And one of those is our recently reopened, very much expanded, Museum at The Cliff. Previously we were just in the former gift shop, and [00:43:00] now we've taken over the whole Cliff House.

Nicole: Or at least the top, the top floor of the restaurant.

Arnold: That's where the exhibition is. There's a refreshed historical gallery in the former gift shop. There’s, the expansion is arts focused, but centered on a historical sense of place. This new exhibition is called Naiad Cove, and it's curated by John Lindsey of the Great Highway Gallery. It also has original historic artifacts from the Cliff House collection and beyond. Some that you haven't seen yet before. As well as an immersive sound installation and special events, curator’s tours, and more. And it's open every weekend, at least until August 21st, from 11:00 to 5:00 at the Cliff House. It is free, but because of capacity limitations, which we haven't actually hit yet, so it's not too big of a problem, but you should reserve your spot, which you can do by going to the events page [00:44:00] on our website, outsidelands.org.

Nicole: Absolutely. And special announcement. Artist Ben Wood, is in the house. Ben, what is the special call to action that we're doing right now so that everybody in the general public can be part of this experience.

Ben: Hey Nicole. Hello Arnold. Really great to be here. It's really nice to see you. And thanks for everyone for listening. We've got a really exciting event that, we're gonna be projecting on the south facing windows of the Cliff House. Since December, we've been projecting onto the north facing windows of the old gift shop every night. Photos and films of the Cliff House history, and now we're gonna be projecting images from Kelly's Cove. So, we've, I've made a call out through Instagram and social media to ask the community, local community, to share your photos. Any photos you have from the Kelly's Cove area and surrounding areas, especially historic ones, really love those. So, if you need to, if you're able, please email me at, [00:45:00] that’s wood.ben1@gmail.com. Wood. That's my last name. Dot-B-E-N, number one, gmail.com. And we're looking forward in August to projecting those images onto the south facing windows of the Cliff House in the evenings.

Nicole: Absolutely. I can't believe how perfectly timed that was that Ben walked up right as we were getting ready to do this.

Ben: I was taking a self-shot of Nicole in the middle of recording, but it didn't really work.

Nicole: I spotted him, so thank you Ben.

Ben: No worries. Thank you. Good to see you. But I'm gonna get back to what I was doing.

Nicole: Because we're all here late working on the Cliff House. I'm not kidding. This is not a staged, like intervention of an artist that happened perfectly. We live here at the Cliff House now. We hope to be able to welcome you back here very soon. So now Arnold, what is our preview for next week?

Arnold: Well, Nicole, we recently spoke to you about John Harris, who was prevented from swimming [00:46:00] at Sutro Baths because he was a Black man. In the next episode, we will tell you all about a Hawaiian world swimming champion who is invited to compete at the very same venue less than 20 years later.

Nicole: This one's gonna be a good one. I'm excited about it.

Arnold: So, we will see everyone next week, and hopefully we'll see you soon up at The Museum at The Cliff.

Nicole: Yes. Cheers to you, everybody. Goodnight.

Ian: Outside Lands San Francisco is recorded by Ian Hadley. Content creation and media production at ihadley.com.

Nicole: To learn more about the Western Neighborhoods Project and more on San Francisco history, go to Outsidelands.org. You can also find us on social media at Facebook, which is outsidelands with an S, at Twitter, which is outsidelandz with a Z, and on Instagram, which is outsidelandz, also with a Z. And check out our historic San Francisco images website at OpenSFHistory.org.

On the Map (click marker for larger map)
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