Books: Golden Era


In 1848 San Francisco was a jerry-built village with two hotels, two half-finished wharves, 800 inhabitants. That year James W. Marshall, a wheelwright, discovered gold in the tailrace of James Augustus Suiter's sawmill at Coloma. Twenty-one years later San Francisco had shot up to a polyglot giant of 149,473 inhabitants, a challenger of New York's financial might, a cultural threat to Boston. That year San Francisco went on a three-day spree. Officially it celebrated completion of the transcontinental railroad—"Uncle Sam's Waistband—He would burst without it." Historically it...

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