There followed a period of depression, ascribed by many to the influx of the Chinese and their effect upon the labor market, though the army of the unemployed were as a rule unwilling to do the work their Celestial rivals engaged in, that of truck farming, fruit raising, manual household labor, wood cutting and the like. A heavy weight settled on the city; business grew slack; the army of the unemployed, of ruined speculators and moneyless newcomers grew steadily greater, and for an era San Francisco saw its dark side.
But this was not a long duration. There was fast developing a new and important business, resulting from the development of the real resources of the State—the fruits, particularly the citrous fruits that grew abundantly in the warm valley. Fortunes were made in oranges, lemons, limes, grapes, almonds and pears. Raisins, whose size defied anything heretofore known, were made from the huge grapes that grew in the San Joaquin Valley. Sonoma sent its grapes to be made into wine. Capital flowed in from every side. Eastern men in search of health, others in search of wealth, came to the Golden State. No matter who came, where they came from, or where they were going, they spent a few days, or many, and some money, or much, in “’Frisco.” The enterprise of the second edition pioneers quickly transformed the State and city.
Luxury was startling. San Francisco’s mercantile community equaled the best, the stores and shops were as beautiful as anywhere in the world and proportionately as well patronized. Theatres, music halls, restaurants, hotel bars and the like were ablaze with lights at night, and patronized by a gay throng. Sutro’s bath, near the Cliff House, was a species of entertainment unequaled anywhere. The Presidio, as the army post is still known, as in the Spanish nomenclature, gave its drills, regarded as free exhibitions for the people. Golden Gate Park was an endless daily picnic ground.
The crowds in the streets of San Francisco were noticeably well dressed and usually gay, without that fixed, drawn, saturnine look noticeable among the people of the East. It is doubtful whether, upon the whole, the earnings of the San Francisco man equaled those of his Eastern brother, but his holidays were frequent and his joys greater. The grind of life was not yet steady—men had not become mere machines.