The San Francisco calamity by earthquake and fire eBook

Charles W. Morris
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 368 pages of information about The San Francisco calamity by earthquake and fire.

Yet it is the desire of the municipality not to harass this portion of its foreign population, and the vexatious problem of placing the new Chinatown will probably be settled to the satisfaction of the Chinese colony.  This colony diverts an important part of the trade of San Francisco to that city, and if its members are dealt with unjustly there is danger of losing this trade.  The question is one that must be left for the future to decide, but no doubt care will be taken that a new Chinatown with the unsavory conditions of the old shall not arise.

CHAPTER XI.

San Francisco of the Past

The story of San Francisco’s history and tragedy appeal with extraordinary force to the imagination of all civilized men.  For several generations the city was looked upon as an Arabian Night’s dream—­a place where gold lay in the streets and joy and happiness were unlimited.  Its settlement, or, rather, its real rise as a city, was as by magic.  It was first a city of tents, of shanties, of “shacks,” lying on the rim of a great, spacious bay.  Ships of all sizes and rigs brought gold-seekers and provisions from the East, all the way round Cape Horn, after voyages of weary months, and at San Francisco their crews deserted and hundreds of these craft were left at their moorings to rot.  Ashore was a riot of money, prodigious extravagance, mean, shabby appointments, sudden riches, great disappointment, revelry, improvidence and suicide.

The streets that now lay squares from the water were then at the water’s edge and batteaus brought cargoes ashore.  Long wharves—­one was for years called the Long Wharf even after there were others built much longer—­led out over the shallow water.  These shallows were later filled and streets built upon them, and upon them arose warehouses, hotels, factories, lodging houses and business places.

The city grew rapidly in the direction away from the bay.  But in its early days it was a city with no confidence in its own stability, and its buildings were accordingly unstable.  A few minor earthquakes shook some of these down years ago and established in the minds of the people a horror of earthquakes.  Frame houses became the rule.

In its ensuing life San Francisco developed the attributes of a city of gayety tempered by business.  The population, for the most part, affected light-hearted scorn of money, or, rather, of saving money.  It made mirth of life, habituated itself to expect windfalls such as miners and prospectors dream of, developed a moderate amount of business, and enjoyed the day while there was sunlight and the night when there was artificial light.  The windfalls grew less frequent, mining became a costly and scientific process, and agriculture succeeded it.  But, though it was only necessary to tickle the land with a hoe and pour water upon the tickled spot, to have it laugh with two, three or even four harvests a year, agriculturists

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The San Francisco calamity by earthquake and fire from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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