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 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
The 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
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