Chapter

Woven into the Fabric: The Confident Community of the Gilded Age

Fred Rosenbaum

in Cosmopolitans

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780520259133
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520945029 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520259133.003.0002
Woven into the Fabric: The Confident Community of the Gilded Age

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Following the Gold Rush decade, the area west of the Rockies emerged as a mighty commercial region with San Francisco at its vortex. Jewish merchants took advantage of the great opportunities that presented themselves in the Gilded Age. They opened department stores and established colossal corporations reaching distant shores. Most of the Jewish fortunes were made by selling wholesale clothing and other dry goods, yet nothing testified to the city's explosive economic growth after the Civil War better than the new manufacturing sector. Some early San Francisco Jews made the leap from retailing to banking. Perhaps the most ambitious Jewish businessman was Adolph Sutro, who also excelled as an engineer, politician, book collector, and philanthropist. Overall, in the post-Civil War period, Jews were increasingly woven into the fabric of San Francisco life even as anti-Semitism gained strength in other parts of America.

Keywords: Jews; San Francisco; merchants; Gilded Age; economic growth; Adolph Sutro; Civil War; anti-Semitism; manufacturing; retailing

Chapter.  13943 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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