A Timeline of San Francisco History - 1900-1950
Pre 1900 : 1950+ : San Francisco History Index

The Cliff House circa 1900

1900-1910 - San Francisco stereographs from the Keystone-Mast Collection

1901 San Francisco History 1901 - 1930 - MCSF

McKinley assassinated - Roosevelt succeeds McK. - Picasso's Blue Period - J.P. Morgan organizes US Steel Corporation --1901

1902 Trans-Pacific telephone cable connects Canada and Australia. --Media History Timeline: 1900s

Twain, Mark. "A Defence of General Funston." North American Review 174 (May 1902).

1903 The Commonwealth Club of California was founded in 1903 by San Francisco Chronicle editorial writer Edward F. Adams.
1905 One of the wonderful aspects of the turn-of-the-century era was the multitude of grandious schemes for the development of California. In the early 1900's, the country had rebounded from the depression of the 1890's, so a renewed sense of optimism was the mood of the day. It was in this frame of mind that prominent San Francisco businessmen schemed to create a coast railroad from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. It was initially called the Ocean Shore Electric Railway. Initial work began in 1905.

Japanese Town - Nihonjin-Machi - 1905-1935 images from The Japanese American History Archives

The San Francisco Chronicle launches a series which accuses Japanese immigrants of debauching white women, deliberately undermining the school system, and causing crime and poverty in California. The series inspires the founding of The Japanese and Korean Exclusion League with 80,000 members. --Social ..

Lurid flames sweep San Francisco in William Alexander Coulter's (1849-1936) panorama of the largest maritime rescue in United States history ...

April 18 - 1906 Earthquake and Fire History - at MCSF and Yahoo listing.

1907 In the first decade of the twentieth century, organized labor in San Francisco exercised "more power and influence than labor in any other major American metropolitan area." The year 1901 saw the formation of the Union Labor Party (ULP), a political party which ostensibly represented the interests of the city's workingmen... At this time, with the city considered a "closed shop" town and labor firmly in control of its political machinery, circumstances began to change. Between 1905 and the street railway strike of May 1907, an earthquake, charges of corruption against the mayor and almost all the supervisors, and a struggle for political control between local reform elements and controlling labor interests changed San Francisco politics. --The 1907 San Francisco Streetcar Strike - by Robert Emery Bionaz
1908 The FBI originated from a force of Special Agents created in 1908 by Attorney General Charles Bonaparte during the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. --A Short History of the FBI
1909 John Muir (1838-1914) was the leader of the movement to save the Hetch Hetchy Valley from despoliation at the hands of the City and County of San Francisco, which wanted the valley for a municipal water supply... Published in late 1909, outlines the preservationist's cause, and was distributed by Muir acting as president of the Society for the Preservation of National Parks... --John Muir - Let Everyone Help to Save the Famous Hetch-Hetchy Valley
1910 Angel Island opened in 1910. For 30 years, Angel Island served as a point of entry to the United States for many immigrants. Like Ellis Island in New York, it processed the entry of people from different parts of the world. Unlike Ellis Island, it also served as a prison for hundreds of Chinese immigrants. The immigration compound at Angel Island was built to enforce an exclusionary law passed in 1882. This law, The Chinese Exclusion Act, was passed to deny entry to Chinese ... --Angel Island Home Page
1911 In California a special election was held on 10 October 1911 to vote on Senate Constitutional Amendment no. 8 granting suffrage to women. The amendment passed by a margin of 3,507 votes. --California Red Light Abatement Act - by Patricia O'Flinn
1912 April 15 - Titanic sinks
1913 When, in 1913, the Red-Light Abatement Act came before the California State Legislature, it was supported by religious and civic groups as well as women's clubs throughout California. The intent of the bill was to attack prostitution and the established red-light districts not by harassment and incarceration of prostitutes, pimps, or madams, but by making property owners liable for the activities of their renters. "[A]ll buildings and places . . . wherein or upon which acts of lewdness, assignation or prostitution are held or occur or which are used for such purposes" would be closed by order of the court and would remain closed-and unusable for any purpose by the property owner-for one year. The act further provided that all moveable property within the building would be sold and the proceeds would be used to pay court costs, fines, and liens against the building. Any remaining funds would devolve to the owner of the property, although if the proceeds of the sale were insufficient to clear this debt, the building could be sold. The bill was passed and signed by Governor Hiram Johnson on 7 April 1913 --California Red Light Abatement Act - by Patricia O'Flinn

The Raker Bill, which eventually became the Raker Act, granted the city of San Francisco the right to dam the Hetch Hetchy Valley as a reservoir, and the unfulfilled right of municipalized electricity for the city. --the Raker Act

1914 February 5 - Birth of William S. Burroughs
1915 The task of creating a Palace of Fine Arts for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition fell to the architect Bernard R. Maybeck, then fifty years old and known for his innovative ideas. Setting to work on this new project, he chose as his theme a Roman ruin, mutilated and overgrown, in the mood of a Piranesi engraving. --The Palace of Fine Arts - a brief history by the Exploratorium
1916 By mid-1916, after viewing the carnage in Europe, the United States saw itself poised with great reluctance on the edge of participation in World War I. Isolationism and anti-preparedness feeling remained strong in San Francisco, not only among radicals such as the Industrial Workers of the World (otherwise known as the IWW, or the Wobblies), but also among responsible labor leaders. At the same time, with the rise of Bolshevism and labor unrest, San Francisco's business community was nervous. The Chamber of Commerce organized a Law and Order Committee, despite the diminishing influence and political clout of local labor organizations. Radical labor was a small but vociferous minority which few took seriously. Violence, however, was imminent. The huge Preparedness Day parade of Saturday, July 22, 1916, was the target date. A radical pamphlet of mid-July read in part, "We are going to use a little direct action on the 22nd to show that militarism can't be forced on us and our children without a violent protest." At 2:06pm, about half an hour into the parade, a bomb exploded on the west side of Steuart Street, just south of Market Street, near the Ferry Building. The bomb was concealed in a suitcase; ten bystanders were killed and forty wounded in the worst terrorist act in San Francisco history. --Preparedness Day Bombing
1918 World War II Timeline - 1918-38
1920 When Roger Baldwin founded the ACLU in 1920, civil liberties were in a sorry state. Citizens were sitting in jail for holding antiwar views. U.S. Attorney General Palmer was conducting raids upon aliens suspected of holding unorthodox opinions. Racial segregation was the law of the land and violence against blacks was routine. Sex discrimination was firmly institutionalized; it wasn't until 1920 that women even got the vote. --History of the ACLU
1921 Arbuckle, Roscoe 'Fatty', 1887 - 1933, screen comedian. Grown-up fat boy of American silent cinema whose career was ruined after his involvement in a 1921 scandal in which starlet Virginia Rappe died. --Roscoe Arbuckle

Charles Beach, his wife Doretta, and children Lela and Claude left Cornwall, Ontario on October 18, 1921. This is Doretta's diary entry for San Francisco

1922 In Ozawa v. U.S., the Supreme Court reaffirmed that Asian immigrants were not eligible for naturalization. --Timeline
1925 Now, not-withstanding the tremendous advance in all costs, 260,000,000 passengers, including those using transfers, rode on the Market Street Railway Company last year [1924] for a five cent fare, which also entitled them to transfers good all over the system, on cars equipped with modern conveniences ... --Market Street Railway Company, Past, Present and Future
1928 Modern age hockey dawns in the Bay Area with the creation of the California Hockey League. --Bay Area Hockey History
1929 With the Great Highway and Ocean Beach Esplanade, costing more than $1,000,000, and financed from the $9,380,000 highway bond issue voted by the people, completed, San Francisco today stands to show visitors from all over the world the finest stretch of highway ever constructed Completion of the highway was climaxed Sunday, June 9, by a monster celebration. More than 50,000 people massed at the end of Lincoln Way. Music from a band of 1014 musicians filled the air in joyous riot, while thousands of autoists tooted horns to add to the noise of the occasion. --Completing the Great Highway, 1929
1930 San Francisco History 1930 - 1965 - by MCSF

Historians have differed over how to explain the influence of New Deal social policies at the local, state and national levels. Some have argued that Roosevelt's New Deal programs, by expanding the role of government, created opportunities for political entrepreneurs to use federal programs to build a base of support for themselves and the Democratic Party in their communities. The lives of Florence Wyckoff and Helen Hosmer indicate that a more complex and organic process occurred in San Francisco. Both women came of age in the early-1930s and were profoundly influenced by the human suffering and injustice they witnessed during the Depression. San Francisco's Liberal Network in the 1930s - by David A. Diepenbrock

1933 San Francisco Ballet is America's oldest professional ballet company, enjoying a long and rich tradition of artistic "firsts." Founded in 1933, the Company performed as the San Francisco Opera Ballet, primarily appearing in lavish full-length opera productions and offering rare evenings of "all-dance" programs throughout the year. --History of San Francisco Ballet

Alcatraz made a prison. --1933 by George Rosenberg

1934 San Francisco's maritme strike, which began May 9, 1934, tumbled out of control when the Industrial Association, made up of employers and business interests who wished to break the strike, and the power of San Francisco unions, began to move goods from the piers to warehouses. The first running battles between unionists and police began Tuesday, July 3, 1934. There was a lull during the July 4 holiday when no freight was moved, but disturbances picked up again Thursday, July 5, 1934 - known as "Bloody Thursday." This is the San Francisco News' coverage of the first day of the rioting -- July 3, 1934. --Bloody Thursday."

The meaning of our movment to End Poverty In California and its polling the largest vote ever cast in a California primary, is that our people have reached the saturation point as regards suffering. We are just about to begin the sixth year of the depression. We have one-and-a- quarter million persons dependent upon public charity, and probably as many more who are able to get only one or two days' work a week or who are dependent upon relatives and freinds. That is too heavy a burden of suffering for any civilized community to carry. --End Poverty in California - The EPIC Movement - by Upton Sinclair

1935 On January 18, the San Francisco Museum of Art, under the leadership of founding director Grace L. McCann Morley, opens in the fourth floor of the War Memorial Veterans Building --Historical Timeline

City College of San Francsico, a public two-year college, was established in 1935 as an integral part of the San Francisco Unified School District. --History of CCSF

The Clipper's central lounge, which was wider than a Pullman club car, was fitted with broad armchairs, and its meal service included china and silverware. The first nine passengers paid $1,438.20 for a round trip from San Francisco to Manila. It cruised at 150 miles per hour and had a range of 3,200 miles. --China Clipper - Maiden Voyage - San Francisco 1935

The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opened on November 12, 1936. It remains one of the largest bridges in the world and carries more traffic than any other toll bridge - over 270,000 vehicles each day. Here are a some photos taken by the engineers who built the bridge. - The Bay Bridge is 60 Years Old - by Caltrans

November 11-14 - 152K tons of steel 1Mil cu yrds concrete 200,000 gal paint 8.25 miles long 70,815 miles of cable 185 ft above high water, piers 50-242 ft. deep cost: $77,200,000 - Bay Bridge opens

The concept of bridging the vast Golden Gate Strait was proposed as early as 1872 by railroad entrepreneur Charles Crocker. It was not until 1916, however, that the idea of a bridge was revived by James Wilkins, newspaper editor of the San Francisco Call Bulletin. He began an editorial campaign for a bridge which caught the attention of San Francisco City Engineer Michael M. O'Shaughnessy. O'Shaughnessy began a national inquiry among engineers regarding the feasibility and cost of such a project. The majority of engineers said a bridge could not be built. Some speculated it would cost over $100 million. However, Joseph Baermann Strauss, a designer of nearly 400 spans, said such a bridge was not only feasible, but could be built for only $25 to $30 million. --Building the Golden Gate Bridge

The Bridge was completed and opened to pedestrian traffic on May 27, 1937. The following day it was opened to vehicular traffic. First proposed in 1869 by town eccentric "Emperor Norton"; groundbreaking in 1933.

World War 2 was the most destructive war in human history. It began in Asia with the Japanese invasion of China that led to the outbreak of war between the two nations in 1937 and ended with the US dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in 1945. In Europe the Nazi troops blitzkrieged into Poland in 1939 and took over most of Europe, except for England and the Soviet Union. During the war in which 40,000,000 people died, Hitler sent 6,000,000 European Jews to their deaths in the Holocaust. The untold suffering caused by the German and Japanese war machines was ended by the brave resistance of people around the globe. --Links to internet sites that tell of the global struggle for liberation during World War II.

December - The Nanking Massacre (Rape of Nanking) -- the Chinese capital sacked by Japanese troops. The American gunboat USS Panay bombed and sunk near Nanking. --Nanjing Massacre: 300,000 Chinese People Killed, 20,000 Women Raped

1940 Chronology of San Francisco War Events 1940-1945 - MCSF

Women Come to the Front: Journalists, Photographers and Broadcasters of World War II (Library of Congress exhibit)

Navy purchases Hunters Point

1941 December 7, - Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.
December 8 - U.S. entered World War II.
December 11 - FBI detained 1370 Japanese Americans classified as "dangerous enemy aliens." --Timeline
1942 February 19 - President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, authorizing the secretary of war to define military areas "from which any or all persons may be excluded as deemed necessary or desirable."2 The only significant opposition would come from the Quakers (Society of Friends) and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). --Timeline

March 2, 1942 General DeWitt issued Public Proclamation No. 1, creating military areas in Washington, Oregon, California, and parts of Arizona and declaring the right to remove German, Italian, and Japanese aliens and anyone of "Japanese Ancestry" living in Military Areas No. 1 and 2 should it become necessary. --Timeline

Two and a half months after Pearl Harbor, 110,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of whom were citizens, were evacuated from their homes and relocated in a series of inland U.S. concentration camps. The episode was called by the ACLU "the worst single wholesale violation of civil rights of Americans citizens in our history." --The Japanese American Internment

The most serious discrimination during World War II was the decision to evacuate Japanese nationals and American citizens of Japanese descent from the West Coast and send them to internment camps. Because the FBI had arrested the individuals whom it considered security threats, FBI Director Hoover took the position that confining others was unnecessary. The President and Attorney General, however, chose to support the military assessment that evacuation and internment were imperative. Ultimately, the FBI became responsible for arresting curfew and evacuation violators. --A Short History of the FBI

San Francisco - Japanese - at MCSF

1945 June 26 - United Nations Charter signed in San Francisco
1948 The LP record arrives on a viny disk. --Media History Timeline: 1940s

We think of the Beat Generation as a phenomenon of the 50's, but the term was invented by Jack Kerouac in 1948. The phrase was then introduced to the general public in 1952 when Kerouac's friend John Clellon Holmes wrote an article, 'This is the Beat Generation,' for the New York Times Magazine --The Beat Generation

In Oyama v. California, the Supreme Court struck down the Alien Land Laws as violations of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Evacuation Claims Act authorized payment to Japanese Americans who suffered economic loss during imprisonment: with the necessary proof, 10 cents was returned for every $1.00 lost --Timeline

San Francisco History Index : Pre 1900 : 1950 to Present