Skip to content

November 14, 1860: San Francisco

November 14, 2010

Tom Hilton on Flickr (cc)

[Today] we sailed into the Golden Gate, as the entrance to the harbor is called. It is a narrow strait between steep rocks, with a crooked channel. Inside, the broad bay spreads out, a calm placid lake, so large that all the ships of the world might ride there at anchor with room to spare, and yet so placid that it seemed like a mere pond. It is by far the most beautiful harbor I have ever seen, not even excepting New York.

As we had instruments to carry we did not hurry on shore, so it was nearly noon before we were fairly at our hotel, and our journey of nearly 6,000 miles brought to an end. It is over 2,000 from New York to Panama, and about 3,300 from Panama to San Francisco. And on the whole of this journey we had fine weather, indeed lovely weather; twenty days out of the twenty-three were as fine as our finest Indian summer.

Tom Hilton on Flickr (cc)

This place I will not speak of now—it has astounded me. First, after our long trip by sea and by land we are still in the United States; second, a city only about ten years old, it seems at least half a century. Large streets, magnificent buildings of brick, and many even of granite, built in the most substantial manner, give a look of much greater age than the city has.  

The weather is perfectly heavenly. They say this is a fair specimen of winter here, yet the weather is very like the very finest of our Indian summer, only not so smoky—warm, balmy, not hot, clear, bracing—in fact I have not words to describe the weather of these two days I have been here. In the yards are many flowers we see only in house cultivation: various kinds of geraniums growing of immense size, dew plant growing like a weed, acacia, fuchsia, etc., growing in the open air in the gardens.

Our arrival was anticipated by the Pony Express. All the papers had announced that the members of the Geological Survey were on their way, and yesterday and today all the city papers have noticed our arrival. Whitney and I get most of the puffs, some of which are quite complimentary. I have been introduced to many prominent citizens, tendered the use of libraries, etc. The Coast Survey offers many facilities, free passage on its vessels along the coast, etc. This afternoon Judge Field and the Governor of the State leave Sacramento to come down here to see us; we shall see them tomorrow.

We found the news of Lincoln’s election when we landed, an unprecedented quick trip of news. I have been out to see fire-works, processions, etc., in the early part of the evening, so now it is late. Good night.

More photos here

5 Comments leave one →
  1. isabelita permalink
    November 17, 2010 10:24 am

    This is a terrific idea. I’ll be reading this one as loyally as I check on the Sierra and wildflower photos; and leaving complimentary “puffs” as well!

  2. November 18, 2010 4:53 pm

    This William H. Brewer appears to be an excellent blog writer! Tom, I love the concept behind this and look forward to following it.

    I don’t understand why there aren’t more history blogs of this kind out there. I’ve got “June and Art” which does 1949-1951 in real time —

    … and the “Disunion” blog on your blogroll looks similar in approach. Do you know of any other blogs that do history in real time?

  3. William H. Brewer permalink*
    November 19, 2010 11:45 am

    Thanks, y’all!

    Lee, I’ve been browsing the June & Art letters–it’s a great project. Disunion is fascinating, and obviously the product of an enormous amount of research.

    I think someone was Tweeting the voyage of the Beagle in real time a while back (another sesquicentennial), but I don’t know about any other projects like that off the top of my head.

  4. November 22, 2010 6:28 am

    Another similar project is the diary of Samuel Pepys and of George Orwell.

    • William H. Brewer permalink*
      November 22, 2010 7:53 am

      Thanks for the tip–more interesting reading…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: