1878 Panorama of San Francisco from California Street Hill

1878 San Francisco: is this a 30 y.o. city?

  • Yes

    Votes: 2 6.5%
  • No

    Votes: 27 87.1%
  • Not Sure

    Votes: 2 6.5%

  • Total voters
    31

KorbenDallas

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This San Francisco was destroyed: Who nuked San Francisco in 1906?
KD note: I wanted to get this out of the way real quick. This city is not 100% abandoned. It's population in 1880 was supposed to be 234 thousand people. This high quality of image allowed me to spot like may be 50 people, and about as many horse buggies. Yet, when you fully comprehend the size of this "30 y.o." city, 234k will sound unreasonable. It was supposed to have at least four times that, IMHO.
  • This city appears to be dead. No chimney smoke, no day to day activity, no nothing... just the void of emptiness.
1878 Panorama of San Francisco
This thread is inspired by this thread: Abandoned Cities: San Francisco 1878 photograph. I ran into a website which has a crazy size version of this panchromatic photograph. In my opinion the photographs reveal way too much, and I wanted to offer our forum members to do a thorough investigation of this photograph. This 1878 resolution should probably be illegal.
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I think the story of San Francisco is very similar to the one of Saint Petersburg. Points of discussion I would like to offer:
  • This city does not look brand new, and has no signs of any serious construction development.
  • It was impossible to build what you see in the photograph within 30 years, with what they had.
  • California Gold rushers of 1848-1855 were indeed digging for "gold", with gold being the city of San Francisco itself.
    • I think they were digging San Francisco out of the mounds of dirt.
  • Multitude of strange "little things". This photograph has quite a few to offer.
  • Could the buildings of the future 1915 SF Expo be buried underneath some of the hills?
What style of cathedral is that?
or... is it a power station?

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The history of San Francisco effectively started in 1848. Wikipedia mentions 1776, but this date is irrelevant for our investigation. Here is why.


We are only concerned with the range of 1848 - 1880, because the photograph in question was allegedly made in 1878.

Gold Rush
The California Gold Rush (1848–1855) began on January 24, 1848, when gold was found in Coloma, California. The news of gold brought approximately 300,000 people to California from the rest of the United States and abroad.
  • San Francisco grew from a small settlement of about 200 residents in 1846 to a boomtown of about 36,000 by 1852.
KD: The influx of people was always historically explained by this Gold Rush. In reference to this I have the following questions:
  • If they were digging for gold - who built the city?
  • If they were building the city - who was digging for gold?
1915 Exposition
Below we have two differently dated visual representations of the famous Palace of Fine Arts. It was allegedly built out of horse hair and plaster, aka staff, for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. The date of 1915 at first glance appears to have nothing to do with 1878. Yet, if the Expo structures were simply restored using previous architecture, the relationship between 1878 and 1915 could be a bit more obvious.
If this painting is representative of what this complex looked like in 1915, it does put a big dent into the 1915 Expo narrative. Does it look brand new, or temporary?
  • While the Palace had been saved from demolition, its structure was not stable. Originally intended to only stand for the duration of the Exhibition, the colonnade and rotunda were not built of durable materials, and thus framed in wood and then covered with staff, a mixture of plaster and burlap-type fiber. As a result of the construction and vandalism, by the 1950s the simulated ruin was in fact a crumbling ruin.
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Additional Info

Little Things
These photograph (or photographs, if you want to consider individual photos comprising this panoramic) has weird little things, which stand out when you start looking for them. Below we have a few examples. See if you can spot anything interesting, and please share with the rest.

First of all, I have a feeling that we are looking at a roof of a buried building. Then we have this little red arrow I put in there. Is it a wire it is pointing at? If it is a wire,what could it be for?

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Source
I'm wondering who could see this weather vane from the ground? What if it was mounted that high for a different purpose?

Weather Vane
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Are those flower bed type thingies?
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Source

Atmospheric Electricity?
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Churches and Cathedrals
This one is out of curiosity. How many churches, and cathedrals can you count in this 1878, 30 year old city of San Francisco?

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Construction Equipment
This is what they built this city with, I guess.

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KD: Anyways, I just wanted to see what your opinion on these photographs was. Something is not right about all of this.
  • I'm wondering how much of this 1878 San Francisco did not get into the photo due to being behind the photographer.
  • Also, what do you think about the future expo buildings being possibly buried in the dirt?
 

dreamtime

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20,000-25,000 inhabitants per sq mi is a good figure when calculating how many people lived in cities, as this is roughly the number of people living in old city parts nowadays, which are among the most densely populated parts of a city.
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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20,000-25,000 inhabitants per m2 is a good figure when calculating how many people lived in cities, as this is roughly the number of people living in old city parts nowadays, which are among the most densly populated parts of a city.
Unless the city is Paris: 16th century Paris: Size vs. Population
  • 205,882 people per square mile
What do we really know?
 

dreamtime

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Now that I read that thread again, I start to think 20,000 is the lower bound of the range, as the families were way bigger back then, today people usually live in this buildings with a family of 2-4, often occupying big flats with many unused rooms. Although I don't think the original number exceeded 30,000 or 40,000 much, but its hard to tell. Cities are often empty today, whereas 100 years ago they were extremely crowded.

Do we know how large San Francisco was in 1878 in sq mi?
 
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jd755

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The flower bed thingies are newly planted trees and their tree guards. more often wrought iron but they look like wooden versions. The poles sticking out of them are tree supports. Looks like nearest to camera two are struggling with the others growing well.

Going off the shadows in those 'blow ups' I reckon it must have been around noon when it was shot.
 

Timeshifter

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Will take a good look at these when I am back on the pc. I did notice when studying the panoramic previously with regards to Churches etc they were mostly to the right (east) on the panoramic.
 

jd755

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Spotted some photo realistic drawing in this image

and screen shotted it so you can see it. The building in the foreground with the four gables.
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Old lifting boardwalk as opposed to the pristine boardwalk everywhere else.
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Another tree thingy with a bigger but dead tree in it.
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Onthebit

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When I was in grade school in the days when we had nuclear attack drills regularly the teacher spoke of a futuristic (I'm pretty sure she said it hadn't been developed yet) weapon that would only kill the people and leave the buildings intact. I could not understand the point in such an atrocity...
 

jd755

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I wondered why this photographer took the photographs he did, who commissioned him and where he went. This site appeared. Eadweard Muybridge Collections - Muybridge : Image & Context

Turns out he was English. And here's the explanation for the San Francisco pictures from that site.
Muybridge photographed San Francisco and its surrounding bay area most extensively, taking over 1000 shots between 1867 and his departure from the region in 1881 (Haas, 1976, p14).
In the case of San Francisco, Muybridge swamped his audience with images of banks, opera houses, docks, government buildings and modern street intersections; as well as the elaborate homes of some of California's richest capitalists, including Leland Stanford.

Muybridge also created 2 large scale 360 degree panoramas of San Francisco in 1877-8 and spent several months documenting important military and governmental installations surrounding the city. Many of these latter photographs were sold to the military, and Muybridge even took on a commission direct from the government to photograph lighthouses of the Pacific Coast, which were necessary to ensure the safety of new international trade routes (Haas, p21).


Clearly 'connected' in all the right places. The military/government giving him permission to photograph their installations and then buying the resulting pictures doesn't make sense to me.
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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Clearly 'connected' in all the right places. The military/government giving him permission to photograph their installations and then buying the resulting pictures doesn't make sense to me.
As well as the guy with the right equipment. Coincidentally, he is our running horse guy as well.

Population Again
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If we were to believe the narrative, in 1848 SF only had 1,000 people, but then the Gold Rushers started to arrive, and by 1852 there were 35k of people leaving in SF.

Here is another strangeness pertaining to this entire mess - The Seven Fires of 1849-1851.
  • During the height of the California Gold Rush, between December 1849 and June 1851, San Francisco endured a sequence of seven bad fires, of which this was the sixth and by far the most damaging. In terms of property value, it did three times as much damage as the next most destructive of the seven fires.
  • Around 11 pm on the night of May 3, 1851, a fire (possibly arson) broke out in a paint and upholstery store above a hotel on the south side of Portsmouth Square in San Francisco. Fueled by increasingly high winds, the fire was initially carried down Kearny St. and then, as the winds shifted to the south, into the downtown area, where the elevated wood-plank sidewalks provided extra fuel.
  • The fire, which was visible for miles out to sea, continued for about 10 hours and eventually extended to at least 18 blocks of the main business district, an area three-quarters of a mile long by a third of a mile wide.Before it was checked by reaching the waterfront, it burned down some 2000 buildings altogether, amounting by some estimates to three-quarters of the city. One 19th century account of the destruction observes: "Nothing remained of the city but the sparsely settled outskirts." The total damage has been estimated at around $10–12 million, a good deal of it uninsured as no insurance companies had yet been established in the city.
  • At least nine lives were lost in the fire, some of them in new, supposedly fireproof iron buildings whose doors and shutters expanded with the heat, trapping people inside.
A vivid description of the 1851 fire occurs in author Frank Marryat's memoir Molehills and Mountains:
  • “The wind was unusually high, and the flames spread in a broad sheet over the town. All efforts to arrest them were useless; houses were blown up and torn down in attempts to cut off communication; but the engines were driven back step by step, while some brave firemen fell victims to their determined opposition.
  • As the wind increased to a gale, the fire became beyond control; the brick buildings on Montgomery crumbled before it; and before it was arrested over 1000 houses, many of which were filled with merchandise, were left in ashes. Many lives were lost, and the amount of property destroyed was estimated at two and a half million pounds sterling.
  • No conception can be formed of the grandeur of the scene, for at one time the burning district was covered by one vast sheet of flame that extended half a mile in length.”
KD: Well, we have seven fires, after which SF was getting rebuilt real quick. And we have the below image of SF in 1850-51. With regard to the 1849-51 population size, given to us by the narrative, how much sense does it all make?

SF in 1850-51
Was the below city really 2 years old? Who built all that, the Gold Rushers?

And here is an additional interesting image of the 1880 SF. What ruins are these, and what caused them? Where did all the rubble go, and what building(s) was it before its destruction?

Ruinas de San Francisco en 1880
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eddie

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In the first image of the series, there appears to be a giant sand dune in the middle of the city.

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There's a house directly to the right of it. Considering the bizarre lack of vegetation, I think that house would be destroyed by mud flow after any significant rain...
 

hal9000

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When I was in grade school in the days when we had nuclear attack drills regularly the teacher spoke of a futuristic (I'm pretty sure she said it hadn't been developed yet) weapon that would only kill the people and leave the buildings intact. I could not understand the point in such an atrocity...
I think you mean the neutron weapon.
A really perverse invention.
 

jd755

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As well as the guy with the right equipment. Coincidentally, he is our running horse guy as well.

Population Again
View attachment 17574
Source
If we were to believe the narrative, in 1848 SF only had 1,000 people, but then the Gold Rushers started to arrive, and by 1852 there were 35k of people leaving in SF.

Here is another strangeness pertaining to this entire mess - The Seven Fires of 1849-1851.
  • During the height of the California Gold Rush, between December 1849 and June 1851, San Francisco endured a sequence of seven bad fires, of which this was the sixth and by far the most damaging. In terms of property value, it did three times as much damage as the next most destructive of the seven fires.
  • Around 11 pm on the night of May 3, 1851, a fire (possibly arson) broke out in a paint and upholstery store above a hotel on the south side of Portsmouth Square in San Francisco. Fueled by increasingly high winds, the fire was initially carried down Kearny St. and then, as the winds shifted to the south, into the downtown area, where the elevated wood-plank sidewalks provided extra fuel.
  • The fire, which was visible for miles out to sea, continued for about 10 hours and eventually extended to at least 18 blocks of the main business district, an area three-quarters of a mile long by a third of a mile wide.Before it was checked by reaching the waterfront, it burned down some 2000 buildings altogether, amounting by some estimates to three-quarters of the city. One 19th century account of the destruction observes: "Nothing remained of the city but the sparsely settled outskirts." The total damage has been estimated at around $10–12 million, a good deal of it uninsured as no insurance companies had yet been established in the city.
  • At least nine lives were lost in the fire, some of them in new, supposedly fireproof iron buildings whose doors and shutters expanded with the heat, trapping people inside.
A vivid description of the 1851 fire occurs in author Frank Marryat's memoir Molehills and Mountains:
  • “The wind was unusually high, and the flames spread in a broad sheet over the town. All efforts to arrest them were useless; houses were blown up and torn down in attempts to cut off communication; but the engines were driven back step by step, while some brave firemen fell victims to their determined opposition.
  • As the wind increased to a gale, the fire became beyond control; the brick buildings on Montgomery crumbled before it; and before it was arrested over 1000 houses, many of which were filled with merchandise, were left in ashes. Many lives were lost, and the amount of property destroyed was estimated at two and a half million pounds sterling.
  • No conception can be formed of the grandeur of the scene, for at one time the burning district was covered by one vast sheet of flame that extended half a mile in length.”
KD: Well, we have seven fires, after which SF was getting rebuilt real quick. And we have the below image of SF in 1850-51. With regard to the 1849-51 population size, given to us by the narrative, how much sense does it all make?

SF in 1850-51
Was the below city really 2 years old? Who built all that, the Gold Rushers?

And here is an additional interesting image of the 1880 SF. What ruins are these, and what caused them? Where did all the rubble go, and what building(s) was it before its destruction?

Ruinas de San Francisco en 1880
View attachment 17578
Source
Wrong San Francisco in that picture. Its the church in Antigua Guatamala.
ÁREA FUNDACIONAL DE MENDOZA

San Agustín Ruins were located meters away from the San Francisco Ruins. They were kept safe until 1954 but, although they were declared as Historical National Monument in 1941, they were pulled down in 1941 by a national decree.

San Agustín consisted in a church and a convent.
 

Gypsy Carn

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I really think this picture is interesting. To me it is either an electrical light pole or a candle lit one. Now if it is an electrical, that means San Fran either had free wireless electricity or underground wired electricity. Thought it was worth the share. Was found on the last photo in the panoramic slide show.

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