Primary Source

—from Annals of San Francisco, 1855


View across Yerba Buena Cove in 1847.'


View of the city of San Franciso in 1849 from California Street; Telegraph Hill on the left and Rincon Point to the right.

The population of the State, and of San Francisco in particular, had been largely increasing during the last six months. Between the 1st of January, 1849, and the 30th of June following, it was estimated that fifteen thousand had been added to the population of the county; of which number nearly ten thousand came by sea and landed at San Francisco. Only about two hundred of these were females. The next half year gave an average of four thousand immigrants per month by sea alone, about five hundred of whom, in all, were females; and the whole of which numbers landed at San Francisco. In the early part of 1849, the arrivals were principally from Chile, Mexico and other countries on the Pacific coasts of America; but later in the year, an immense number of Americans came direct from the Atlantic States, around Cape Horn, or by way of Panama, while many foreigners also arrived from China and from various parts of Europe. Hitherto the departures were comparatively few.

Altogether, nearly forty thousand immigrants landed at San Francisco during 1849. Besides that great number, some three thousand or four thousand seamen deserted from the many hundred ships lying in the bay. Probably two-thirds of all these proceeded to the mines, or to various parts of the interior; but, on the other hand, numerous fortunate diggers, or those who had tried gold digging and been disappointed, visited town, to spend their gains, recruit their health, or follow out some new pursuit there. It will be remembered also that somewhere about thirty thousand American immigrants had reached California across the plains, many of whom ultimately settled in San Francisco. Therefore, it may be reasonably estimated, that, at the close of 1849, the population of the town numbered, at least twenty, and probably nearer twenty-five thousand souls. A very small proportion of these were females--a still smaller one, children of either sex; while the vast majority of inhabitants were adult males, in the early prime of manhood. This circumstance naturally tended to give a peculiar character to the aspect of the place and habits of the people.

Prev. Document Next Document