San Francisco The Newest Phoenix
( Originally Published 1913 )
WE came upon it in the still of an early Sunday evening the wonderful city of Saint Francis. Throughout that cloudless Sabbath we had journeyed southward through California. At dawn the porter of the sleeping car had informed us that we were in the Golden State, not to be distinguished in its northern reaches from Oregon. Men were talking of the wonders of the Klamath country into which the civilizing rails of steel are being steadily pushed, the breath of to-morrow was upon the lips of every one who boarded the train, but the land itself was wild, half-timbered, rugged to the last degree. Through the morning grays the volcanic cone of Shasta was showing ever and ever so faintly, and if an acquaintance of two hours with the peak that Joaquin Miller has made so famous did not enthuse the man behind the car-window, it must have been that he was still a bit dazed, not surfeited, with the wonders of Rainier.
At the foot of Shasta our train stood for a bare ten minutes while travelers descended and partook of the vilest tasting waters that nature might boast in all California. Shasta spring water is supposed to be mightily beneficial and that is probably true, for our experience with spring waters has been that their benefits have existed in an inverse ratio to their pleasantness of taste. But if Nature had given her benefactions to Shasta a sort of Spartan touch, she has more than compensated for the severity of her gifts by the beauty of their setting. You literally descend directly upon the springs. The railroad performs earthly miracles to land a passenger in front of them. It descends a vast number of feet in an incredibly short length of track the conductor will reduce these to cold statistics - and your idea is a quick drop on a gigantic hair-pin. At the base of the lowest leg of this hair pin is the spring, set in a deep glen, the mossy banks of which are constantly adrip and seemingly one great slow-moving waterfall, even throughout the fearfully dry seasons of California. The whole thing is distinctly European, distinctly different a bit of Swiss scenery root-dug and brought to the West Coast of the United States.
After Shasta and the springs, another of the desolate, fascinating canyons to be threaded for many miles besides the twistings of a melancholy river, then of a sudden open country, farmers growing green things, ranch houses, dusty county-roads, with automobiles plowing them dustier still, little towns, more ranches everything in California from two to two million acres is a ranch then a grinding of air brakes and your neighbor across the aisle is fumbling with his red-covered time-table to locate the station upon it. As for you, you don't care about what station it really may be. It is a station. You are sure of that. There is the familiar light yellow depot, but in the well-kept lawn that abuts it grows a giant tree. That tree is a palm, and the palm-tree typifies California to every tingling sense of your mentality.
This is the real California. The mountains have already become accustomed things to you, the broad ranches were coming into their own before you ever reached Denver, but the palm is exotic in your homeland, a glass-protected thing. That it grows freely beside this little unidentified railroad station proclaims to you that you are at last in a land that bids defiance to that trinity of scourging giants December, January and February and calls itself summer the whole year round.
This palm has brought you to a sense of your location to California. The romance that has been spelled into you of a distant land, and of the men who toiled that it become a great state peopled with great cities, of Nature's lavish gifts and terrific blows laid alike upon it, came into your heart and soul and body at the first glimpse of that tree. Before the train is under way again your camera has been called into action mental processes are supplemented by a permanent record chemically etched upon a film of celluloid.
After that pioneer among palm-trees, more of these little yellow depots and more of these rarely beautiful palms standing beside them. The ranches multiply, this valley of Sacramento is a rarely fertile thing. Growth stretches for miles, without ever a hint of undulation. California is the flattest thing you have ever seen. And again and again you will be declaring it the most mountainous of all our states. The flat-lands carry you beyond daylight into dusk. The towns multiply, a glow of arc reflection against the shadows of evening is Sacramento a dozen miles distant. Then there is a rattle of switches, a halt at a junction station, and mail is being gathered from the impromptu literature makers on our train to go east. The main line is reached. And a little later the Straits of Costa are crossed. Here is a broad arm of the sea and if it were still lingering daylight you might declare that Holland, not Switzerland, had been trans-planted into California. The sea laughs at bridges, and so from Benecia to Port Costa we go on a great ferry boat, eleven Pullmans, a great ten-drivered passenger locomotive all of us together. For twenty minutes we slip across the water, breathing fresh air once again and standing in the ferry's bow looking toward the shadowy outline of a high, black hill carelessly punctuated here and there by yellow points of light. A new land is always mysterious and fascinating; by night doubly mysterious, doubly fascinating.
The ferry boat fast to its bridge, the locomotive is no longer an impotent thing. We are making the last stage of a long trip across the continent by rail. The little towns are multiplying. The subtle prescience of a great city is upon us. We turn west, then south and the suburban villages are shouldering one another all the more closely the entire way. We skirt and barely miss Berkeley, hesitate at Oakland and then come to a grinding final stop at the end of a pier that juts itself far out beyond the shallow reaches of San Francisco bay. Again there is a ferry boat a capacious craft not unlike those craft upon which we have ridden time and time again between Staten island and the tip of Manhattan and when its screws have ceased to turn we will finally be in the real San Francisco, reached as a really great metropolis may be reached, after an infinitude of time and trouble. It is still October the warmest month of the year in the city by the Golden Gate and the girls and their young men fill the long benches on the open decks of the ferry. The wind blows soft from the Pacific, and straight ahead is San Francisco a mystery of yellow illumination rising from the water's edge.
As the ferry makes her course, the goal is less and less of a mystery. Street lights begin to give some sort of half coherent form to the high hills that make the amphitheater site of San Francisco, they dip in even lines to show the course of straight avenues. A great beer sign changes and rechanges in spelling its lively message, there is a moon-faced clock held aloft, you pinch your memory sharply, and then know that it must be the tower of the great ferry-house, the conspicuous water-front land-mark of San Francisco.
In another five minutes you are passing under that tower a veritable gate keeper of the city and facing up Market street; from the beginning its undisputed chief thoroughfare. A taxicab is standing there. You throw your hand-baggage into it, come tumbling after, yourself. There is a confusion of street lights, a momentary intimacy of a trolley car running alongside a little later the glare and confusion of a hotel lobby, the fascinating fuss of getting yourself settled in a strange town. There is a double witchery in approaching a great new city at night.
In the morning to tumble out of your hotel into that same strange town in the clarity of early sunshine, to have this great street or that or that Market or Geary or Powell stretching forth as if longing to invite your explorations here again is the fascination of travel. The big trolley cars come rolling up Market street in quick succession, and for an instant their appeal is strong. But over there is a car of another sort, running on narrow-gauge tracks and with the roar of an endless cable ever at work beneath the pavement. The little cars upon those narrow tracks interest you. They are as gaily colored and as bravely striped as any circus wagon of boyhood days, and when you pay your fare you can take your choice between the interior of a stuffy little cabin amidships or open seats at either end arranged after the time-honored fashion of Irish jaunting cars. San Franciscans do not hesitate. They range themselves along the open seats of the dinky cars and look proud as toads as the cars go clanking up the awful hills.
The San Francisco cable car is in a transportation class by itself. It clings tenaciously to early traditions. For in San Francisco the cable railroad was born and in San Francisco the cable railroad still remains. One Andrew S. Halladie was its inventor somewhere early in the seventies." Up Clay street hill, and to know and appreciate the slope of Clay street hill one must have seen it once at least, Halladie's first car struggled, while its passengers held their breaths just as first comers to San Francisco still hold their breaths as they ride up and down the fearful hills. The telegraph told to the whole land how a street railroad was running on a rope out in that little-known land of marvels California. But the telegraph could not tell what the railroad on a rope meant to San Francisco San Francisco encompassed and held in by her high sand hills. The Clay street cable road had conquered one of the meanest of these hills and they began to plan other roads of a similar sort. Like a blossoming and growing vine the city spread, almost overnight. Sand-dunes became building-lots of high value and a new bonanza era was come to San Francisco. And, with the traditional generosity of the coast, she gave her transportation idea to other cities. In a little while St. Louis, Chicago, Washington and New York were banishing the horse cars from their busiest streets. A new era in city transit was begun.
A few years later the broomstick trolley cheaper and in many respects far more efficient displaced the cable-cars in many of these cities. But San Francisco up to the present time has stuck loyally to her old-time hill conquerors. And the nervous lever-clutch of the gripman as he " gets the rope " is as distinctive of her as are the fantasies of her marvelous wooden architecture.
Some of the cable cars have disappeared they began to go in those wonderful years of reconstruction right after the fire, and they are already obsolete in the city's chief thoroughfare, Market street. The others remain. Over on Pacific avenue is a little line that the San Franciscans dearly love, for it is particularly reminiscent of the trams that used to clatter through Market street be-fore the fire a diminutive summer-house in front and pulling an immaculate little horseless horse car behind. Eventually all will go. One road's franchise has already expired and upon it San Francisco is today maintaining the first municipally operated street car line in any metropolitan city of America. If the experiment in Geary street succeeds, and it is being carefully operated with such a hope clearly in view, it will probably be extended to the cable lines when their franchises expire and they revert automatically to the city.
The distinctive mannerisms of San Francisco are changing slowly but very surely indeed. Some of them still remain, however, in greater or less force. At the restaurants, in the shops and in the hotels you receive your change in " hard money "gold and silver coin. Your real San Franciscan will have nothing else. There is something about the substantial feeling of a coin, something about the tinkling of a handful of it that runs straight to the bottom of his heart. Since the fire which worked ever more fearful havoc with San Francisco comforts than with the physical structure of the city the use of paper money has increased. But your true Californian will have none of it. When he goes east and they give him paper money he fusses and fumes about it inwardly at least. He thinks that it may slip out of that pesky inner pocket or vest or coat. He wants gold a handful of it in his trousers-pocket to jingle and to stay put. And as for pennies. You who count yourself of the East will have to come east once again before you pocket such copper trash they will have none of them upon the West Coast. Small change may be anything else but it is not Western.
"Western," did we say?
Hold on. San Francisco is not western. California is not western. To call either western is to commit an abomination approaching the use of the word " Frisco."
" California is to all purposes, practical and social a great island," your San Franciscan will explain to you.
" To the east of us lies another dividing sea the broad miles of desert and of mountains, and so broad is it that Hong Kong or Manila or Yokohama seem nearer to us than Chicago or St. Louis. We recognize nothing west of New York and Washington. Between is that vast space the real West which fast trains and good, bridge in a little more than four days. In there is your West Illinois, Mississippi, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado all the rest of that fine family of American states.
" In Los Angeles, now, it is different. The lady that you take out upon your arm there is probably from Davenport or Kokomo or Indianapolis, whether she will admit it or not. Los Angeles is western. We are not. We are ` the Coast' and be exceeding careful, young man, how you say it."
He has spoken the truth. Your typical San Francis-can is quite as well versed in the streets and shops and hotels of London, Paris and Vienna, as your typical New Yorker or Bostonian. The four days bridging across the North American continent is no more to him than the Hudson river ferries to the commuter from New Jersey. His city is cosmopolitan and he is proud of it. Her streets are cosmopolitan and so are her shops and her great hotels. To the stately Palace reared from the site of the old, and with a new glass-covered court rivaling the glories of its predecessor, still come princes and diplomats, globe-trotters of every sort and bearing in their train wondrous luggage of every sort, prosperous miners from the North, bankers from the East, Californians from every corner of their great state, and look with curious interest at the elect of San Francisco sipping their high tea there in the court yard.
And the cosmopolitanism of the streets is still more marked. Portuguese, Italian, sourdoughs from Alaska, hundreds of the little brown Japs who are giving California such a tremendous worry these days, Indians, French Kanakas, Mexicans, Chinese the list might be run almost interminably. Of these none are more interesting than the Chinese. You see them in all the downtown quarters of San Francisco the men with that inscrutable gravity and sagacity that long centuries of civilization seem to have given them, the women and the little girls, of high caste or low, invariably hatless and wearing loose coat and trousers in many cases of brilliant colors and rare Oriental silks. And when you come to their own city within a city San Francisco's famous Chinatown they are the dominant folk upon the street. Of course the new Chinatown is not the old with its subterranean labyrinths of unspeakable vileness and dirt, with danger and crime lurking in each of its dark corners. That passed completely in the fire. But it had begun to pass even before that great calamity. It was being exploited. Paid guides, with a keen sense of the theatrical, were beginning to work the damage. The " rubberneck wagons " were multiplying.
Today Chinatown is frankly commercial. It is clean and new and clever. Architects have brought more of the Chinese spirit into its buildings than the old ever had. It does not lack color by day, the treasures of its shops, the queer folk who walk its streets, even the bright red placards upon the door-lintels; by night the close slow-moving throngs through Grant avenue its chief thoroughfare - the swinging lanterns above their heads, the radiance that comes out from brilliantly lighted and mysterious rooms along the way the new Chinatown of San Francisco. But it is now frankly commercial. The paid guides and the " rubberneck wagons " have completed the ruin. If you are taken into an opium den, you may be fairly sure that the entire performance has been staged for the delectation of you and yours. For the real secrets even of the new Chinatown are not shown to the unappreciative eyes of white folk.
At the edge of Chinatown slopes Portsmouth square and here the cosmopolitanism of San Francisco reaches its high apex. Around it chatters the babel of all tongues, beyond it stretches the " Barbary Coast," that collection of vile, if picturesque resorts that possesses a tremendous fascination for some San Franciscans and some tourists but which has no place within the covers of this book. To Portsmouth square come the representatives of all these little colonies of babbling foreigners, the men who sail the seven seas the flotsam and the jetsam not alone of the Orient but of the whole wide world as well. There is a little man who sits on one side of the square and who for a very small sum will execute cubist art upon your cuticle. Among tattooers he acknowledges but two superiors a one-legged veteran who plies his trade near the wharves of the Mersey, and a Hindu artist at Calcutta. The little shops that line Portsmouth square are the little shops of many peoples. Over their counters you can buy many things practical, and many, many more of the most impractical things in all the world. And the new Hall of Justice rises above the square in the precise site of the old.
Portsmouth square has played its part in the history of San Francisco. From it the modern city dates. It was the plaza of the old Spanish town, and within this plaza Commodore Montgomery of the American sloop of war Portsmouth first raised the Stars and Stripes in the strenuous days of the Mexican war. After that the stirring days of gold-times with the vigilantes conducting hangings on the flat roofs of the neighboring houses of adobe. Portsmouth square indeed has played its part in the history of San Francisco.
" Portsmouth square," you begin to say, " Portsmouth square was it not Portsmouth square that Stevenson"
Precisely so. There are still some of the shop-keepers about that ancient plaza who can recall the thin figure of the poet and dreamer who loafed lazy days in that open space hobnobbing with sailors and the strange dark-skinned vagabond folk from overseas. There is a single monument in the square today a smooth monolith upon whose top there rests a ship, its sails full-bellied to the wind but which never reaches a port. Upon the smooth surface of that stone you may read:
TO REMEMBER ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
To be honest To be kind To earn a little To spend a little less to make upon the whole a family happier for his presence To renounce when that shall be necessary and not be embittered To keep a few friends but these without capitulation Above all on the same grim condition to keep friends with himself Here is a task for all that a man has of fortitude and delicacy
That is the lesson that Portsmouth square gives to the wanderers who drag themselves today to its benches the words that come as a sermon from one who knew and who pitied wrecked humanity.
There are other great squares of San Francisco and filled with interest perhaps none other more so than Union square, in the heart of. the fine retail section with its theaters and hotels and clubs. Of these last there is none more famous than the Bohemian. More showy clubs has San Francisco. The Pacific Union in its great brown-stone house upon the very crest of Nob Hill, where in other days the bonanza millionaires were wont to build their high houses so that they might look across the housetops and see the highways in from the sea, has a home unsurpassed by any other in the whole land. But the Bohemian does not get its fame from its fine town club house. Its " jinks " held in August in a great cluster of giant redwood trees off in the wonderful California hills are world-renowned. In the old days all that was necessary for a man to be a Bohemian, beyond the prime requisite of being a good fellow, was that he be able to sing a song, to tell a story or to write a verse. In these days the Bohemian Club, like many other institutions that were simple in the beginning, has waxed prosperous. Some of its members have rather elaborate cottages in among the redwoods and go back and forth in automobiles. But much of the old spirit remains. It is the spirit which the San Franciscan tells you gave first American recognition to such an artist as Luisa Tetrazzini, which many years ago gave such a welcome to the then famous Lotta that the generous actress in a burst of generous enthusiasm returned with the gift to the city of the Lotta fountain at one of the most famous of the Market street corners. It is the spirit which makes San Francisco give to art or literature the quickest appreciation of any city in America. It is, in fact, the same spirit that gives to San Francisco the reputation of having the gayest night life of any city in the world with the possible exception of Paris.
Night life in a city means the intoxication of many lights, the creature comfort of good restaurants. San Francisco does not lack either. When the last glimmer of day has disappeared out over the Golden Gate, Market street, Powell street, all the highways and the byways that lead into them are ablaze with the incandescent glories of electricity. Commerce and the city's lighting boards vie with one another in the splendor of their offerings.
And as for the restaurants San Francisco boasts of twelve hundred hotels, alone. Each hotel has presumably at least one restaurant. And some of the finest of the eating-places of the city at the Golden Gate are solely restaurants. As a matter of real fact, San Francisco is the greatest restaurant city on the continent in proportion to her population even greater than New York. In New York and more recently in Chicago the so-called " kitchenette apartment " has come into great vogue among tiny folks two or three rooms, a bath and a very slightly enlarged clothes press in which a small gas or electric stove, a sink and a refrigerator suffices for the preparation of light breakfasts and lunches. Dinners are taken out. In San Francisco the " kitchenettes " are omitted in thousands of apartments. All the meals are eaten in public dining-rooms and the restaurants thrive wonderfully. The soft climate does much to make this possible.
Living in these new apartments of San Francisco is a comparatively simple matter. Your capital investment for house-keeping may be small. A few chairs, a table or two, some linen you are ready to begin.
Bless your soul, the builder of the apartment house solved that problem for you. Your bed is a masterpiece of architecture which lets down from the wall, ΰ la Pullman. By day it goes up against the wall again and an ingenious arrangement of wall-shutters enables the bedding to air throughout the entire day. In some cases the beds will let down either within, or without, to a sleeping-porch, for your real San Franciscan has a healthy sort of an animal love for living and sleeping in the open. The glories of the open California country that lie within an hour or two of the city tempt him into it each month of the year, and he is impeccable in his horseback riding, his fishing and his shooting.
To return to the restaurants a decided contrast to that rough life in the open which he really loves here is one, quite typical of the city. It is gay, almost garish with color and with light. Its cabaret almost amounts to an operatic performance and its proprietor will tell you with no little pride that he was presenting this form of restaurant entertainment long months before the idea ever reached New York. He will also tell you that he changes the entire scheme of decoration each three months the San Franciscan mind is as volatile as it is appreciative.
Little Jap girls pass through the crowded tables bringing you hot tea biscuits of a most delicious sort. Other girls, this time in Neapolitan dress, are distributing flowers. The head-waiter bends over you and suggests the salad with which you start your dinner, for it seems to be the fashion in San Francisco restaurants to eat your salad before your soup. The restaurant is a gay place, crowded. Late comers must find their way elsewhere. And the food is surprisingly good.
But we best remember a little restaurant just back of the California market in Pine street into which we stumbled of a Saturday night just about dinner-time. It was an unpretentious place, with two musicians fiddling for dear life in a tiny balcony. But the table d'hτte price one dollar, with a bottle of California wine after the fashion of all San Francisco table d'hτtes was perfection, the special dishes which the waiter suggested even finer. Soupe l'oignon that might linger in the mind for a long time, a marvelous combination salad, chicken bonne femme which translated meant a chicken pulled apart, then cooked with artichokes in a casserole, the whole smothered with a wonderful brown gravy there was a dinner, absolute in its simplicity yet leaving nothing whatsoever to be wished. And a long time later we read that Maurice Baring, author and globe-trotter, had visited the place and pronounced its cookery the finest that he had ever tasted.
There are dozens of such little places in San Francisco named after the fashion of its shops in grotesque or poetic fashion and they are almost all of them good. There is little excuse for anything else in a town whose very cosmopolitanism proclaims real cooks in the making, whose wharves are rubbed by smack and schooner bringing in the food treasures of the sea, whose farms are vast truck gardens for the land, whose markets run riot in the richest of edibles. Your San Franciscan is nothing if not an epicure. It is hardly fair, however, to assume that he is a glutton or that he merely lives to eat. For he is, in reality, so very much more optimistic, generous, brave and how he does delight to experiment. California is still in the throes of what seems to be a social and political earthquake, with each shake growing a little more rough than its predecessor. She has just overturned most of her political ideals for the first fifty years of her life. She delights in politics. She really lives. San Francisco, standing between those two great schools of thought, the University of California at Berkeley, and Leland Stanford University at Palo Alto, prides herself upon her growing intellectuality. From the folk who dally with advanced thought of every sort down to those who are merely puzzled and dissatisfied, the population of this Californian metropolis demands a new order of things. That as much as anything else explains the recent political revolutions. Since the great fire, the plans for those revolutions have been under progress.
The mention of that fire if you make any pretense to diplomacy you must never call it an earthquake around the Golden Gate brings us back to the San Francisco of today. You look up and down Market street for traces of that fire and in vain. The city looks modern, after the fashion of cities of the American west, but its buildings do not seem to have arisen simultaneously after the scourge that leveled them simultaneously. But turn off from Market street, to the south through Second or Third streets or north through any of the parallel throughfares that lead out of that same mainstem of San Francisco.
Now the fullness of that disaster which was not more to you at the time than the brilliancy of newspaper dispatches comes home to you for the first time. In the rear of your hotel is an open square of melancholy ruins, below it a corner plat still waste, others beyond in rapid succession. On the side streets, fragments of " party-walls," a bit of crumbling arch, a stout standing chimney remind you of the San Francisco that was and that can never be again. When you go out Market street, you may see where stood the pretentious City Hall today a stretch of foundation leveled ruins with a single surviving dome still devoted to the business of the Hall of Records. Still, to get the fullness of the disaster you must make your way into San Francisco's wonderful Golden Gate Park, past the single standing marble doorway of the old Towne house a pathetic reminder of one of the great houses of the old San Francisco and straight up to the crest of the high lifted Strawberry Hill. On that hill there stood until the eighteenth of April, 1906, a solid two-storied stone observatory. It seemed to be placed there for all time, but today it vaguely suggests the Coliseum of Rome a half circle of its double row of arches still standing but the weird ruin bringing back the most tragic five minutes that an American city has ever spent. Or if you will go a little farther, an hour on a quick-moving suburban train will bring you to Palo Alto and the remains of Leland Stanford University, that remarkable institution whose museum formerly held whole cases of Mrs. Stanford's gowns and a papier-mache reproduction of a breakfast once eaten by a member of her. family.
It must be discouraging to try to bring order out of the chaos that was wreaked there. The great library, which was wrecked within a month of its completion, and the gymnasium have never been rebuilt, although the dome of the latter is still held aloft on stout steel sup-ports. The chapel, which was Mrs. Stanford's great pride and for which she made so many sacrifices still rears its crossing. Nave and transepts, to say nothing of the marvelous mosaics, were leveled in the twinkling of that April dawn. The long vistas of arched pergolas, the triumph of the master, Richardson, still remain. And the ruin done in that catastrophe to the high-sprung arch he placed over the main entrance to the quadrangle has been in part eradicated.
For Leland Stanford University today represents one of the bravest attempts ever made in this land to repair an all but irreparable loss. It has never lost either faith and hope, and so the visitor to its campus today will see the beginnings toward a complete replacement of the buildings of what was one of the " show universities " of the land. With a patience that must have been infinite, the stones of the old chapel have been sorted out of the ruin even fragments of the intricate mosaics have been carefully saved numbered and placed in sequence for re-erection. Already the steel frame of nave and transepts is up again and the tedious work of erecting the masonry walls upon it begun. Leland Stanford has, quite naturally, caught the spirit of San Francisco the city that would not be defeated.
To analyze that spirit in a sweeping paragraph is all but impossible. Incident upon incident will show it in all its phases. For instance, there was in San Francisco on the morning of the earthquake a sober minded German citizen who had put his all into a new business a business that had just begun to prove the wisdom of his investment. When Nature awoke from her long sleep and stretching began to rock the city by the Golden Gate the German rushed upstairs to where his wife and daughter slept. He found them in one another's arms and frantic with terror.
"Papa! Papa!" they shrieked. " We are going to die. It is the end of the world the business is gone. We are going to die!"
He smiled quietly at them.
" Well, what of it?" he asked quietly. " We die together and in San Francisco."
A keen-witted business man once boasted that he could capitalize sentiment, express the spirit of the human soul in mere dollars and cents. What price could he give for a love and loyalty of that sort? That was, and still is, the affection that every San Franciscan from the ferry-house back to the farthest crest of the uppermost hill gives to his city it is the thing that makes her one of the few American towns that possess distinctive personality.
A young matron told us of her own experience on the morning of the fire.
" Of course it was exciting," she said, " with the smoke rolling up upon us from downtown, and the rumors repeating themselves that the disaster was world-wide, that Chicago was in ruins and New York swallowed by a tidal wave, but there was nothing unreal about a single bit of it. I bundled my children together and hurried toward the Presidio my knowledge of army men assured me that there could be no danger there. I took the little tent handed me and set up my crude house-keeping in it. It still seemed very real and not so very difficult.
" But when those odd little newspapers that had been printed over in Oakland came, and I saw the first of their head-lines ` San Francisco in Ruins' then it came upon me that our city, my city, was no more, and it was all over. It was all the most unreal thing in the world and I cried all that night, not for a single loss beyond that of the San Francisco that I had loved. But the next morning they told me how they had telegraphed East for all the architects in sight, and that morning I began planning a new house just as if it had been a pet idea for months and months and months."
Out of such men and women a great city is ever builded. San Francisco may be wild and harum-scarum, and a great deal of its wildness is painfully exaggerated, but it is a mighty power in itself. Your San Franciscan is rightly proud of the progress made since the great disaster. More than $375,000,000 a sum approximating the cost of the Panama canal has already been spent in rebuilding the city, and now, like a man who has spent his last dollar on a final substantial meal, the western metropolis calls for cake and scrapes up an additional $18,000,000 for a World's Fair " to beat everything that has gone before." That takes financing of a high order. It takes something more. It has taken a real spirit enthusiasm and love and courage to build a new San Francisco that shall gradually obliterate the poignant memories of the city that was.
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Steel's Great Capital Pittsburgh
Cleveland The Sixth City
Chicago And The Chicagoans
Twin Cities St. Paul Minneapolis
Gateway Of The Southwest St. Louis
New Orleans The Old French Lady Of The Riverbank
San Antonio The City Of The Little Squares
Denver The American Paris
Portland - Seattle - Tacoma
San Francisco The Newest Phoenix
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