Return to Gold Fever Gold Fever! The Lure and Legacy of the California Gold Rush
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San Francisco

San Francisco 1849

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Barbary Coast

Gambling ItemsWith ships, merchandise and equipment, and thousands of sea-route argonauts pouring into California through the Golden Gate, San Francisco instantly became the hub of the gold rush. No city grew bigger or faster, or with more hustle and bustle. Its population in January 1848 was 800; by 1853 it had mushroomed to over 50,000, with tens of thousands more passing through to and from the mines each year. San Francisco quickly became the most fever02-rvlr.jpg (5560 bytes)culturally and ethnically diverse place in the world. While the gold rush laid the foundation of the city, it took the wealth of the Comstock silver bonanza in Nevada to really build and refine it.

Gold Chest c.1875The Comstock created fortunes for men like William Ralston, the builder of the Palace Hotel. Ralston and other newly-wealthy San Franciscans sought to create their own vision of San Francisco as an "Imperial City," a sophisticated, cultured city to rival New York, London and Paris.

Top: San Francisco 1849, G.H. Burgess, Collection of Oakland Museum of California
Middle Right: Gambling Items, Collection of Robert Limacher, Photo by Catherine Buchanan
Middle Left: Gold Revolver, Collection of Greg Martin
Bottom: Gold Chest c.1875, Collection of Oakland Museum of California

 


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