Chapter

Emporium of a New World

David Kipen

in San Francisco in the 1930s

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780520268807
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520948877 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520268807.003.0003
Emporium of a New World

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San Francisco Bay in the early 1850s presented a sight seldom seen in the history of the world: a veritable forest of masts rising from hundreds of abandoned ships. With the gradual stabilization of conditions for trade, however, maritime commerce was revived until the rapid increase in shipping made necessary the immediate building of extensive piers and docking facilities. Prior to the Gold Rush all cargoes had been lightered ashore in small boats, usually to the rocky promontory of Clark's Point at the foot of Telegraph Hill. When in the winter of 1848 the revenue steamer James K. Polk was run aground at the present intersection of Vallejo Street and Battery Street the narrow gangplank laid from deck to shore was considered a distinct advance in harbor facilities. The brig Belfast was the first vessel to unload at a pier: she docked in 1848 at the newly completed Broadway Wharf—a board structure ten feet wide.

Keywords: San Francisco Bay; stabilization; trade; commerce; shipping; Clark's Point; James K. Polk; Belfast; Broadway Wharf

Chapter.  8991 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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