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Gold Rush Dry Cleaning and Free-Range Dire Wolves

Ten fascinating facts from Gary Kamiya’s new book, Cool Gray City of Love.

From the US's first dynamite factory.

A TL brothel.

1. Gardens at 14th and Mission streets once featured a lake, an aquarium, and a track for Roman chariot races.

2. 5,000 Indians killed by Spaniards and diseases lie buried in the Mission Dolores cemetery.

3. The prehistoric Bay Area had no bay and was home to the largest lions and bears yet discovered, as well as dire wolves (like in Game of Thrones!), camels, 35,000 horses, and 227,000 bison

4. The Western Addition became an African-American neighborhood after the Japanese who initially lived there were sent to internment camps during WWII.

5. The brothels of the Tenderloin used to be considered the high-class alternative to the Barbary Coast.

6. Glen Canyon—once called Little Switzerland—housed the first dynamite factory in the United States (until the factory blew up).

7. Before the shipyards took over, Hunters Point was San Francisco’s Butchertown. After the 1906 earthquake, it almost became the new Chinatown.

8. During the Gold Rush, it was cheaper to send shirts to Hawaii to be laundered than to do it in San Francisco.

9. In the 1870s, the city had 115 cigar-making factories.

10. The first buildings erected in the Presidio lasted only TWO YEARS —turns out that adobe and fog don’t mix.


Originally published in the August issue of San Francisco

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