This New York company tripled the population of the town, and as the first significant U.S. group to settle in California, the Saints helped turn Yerba Buena into the thriving city of San Francisco.
The Saints started the first English newspaper in California, the California Star, as well as the first English language school. In 1847, over four hundred members of the Mormon Battalion came to California and helped build some of the first permanent structures in California.
Most of the Brooklyn Saints left for Salt Lake City in 1848, carving the road the forty-niners would later use during the California Gold Rush. The early Saints in California were also responsible for developing gold mining; raising grain, vegetables, fruits, and seeds; and breeding cattle.
In 1850, when California applied for statehood, U.S. President James Polk, Brigham Young, and many other leaders supported the idea of merging California and Deseret (Utah), but unfortunately the messenger arrived in California too late and the local legislature had already determined the borders.
When the issue of plural marriage became a heated national debate, however, California sheltered many Church exiles and sent politicians to lobby Congress for acceptance of the Saints. These efforts helped secure Utah’s statehood and reestablished the Church in California after most of the Saints left to fight in the Utah War.
After this time the Church in California began to flourish. Eight stakes were organized in the 1930s, five in the 1940s, and thirty in the 1950s.
In 1956 the Los Angeles temple was built, followed by the Oakland temple in 1964. Since the 1920s, ten percent of Church members have lived in California. It is now the second largest religious denomination in the state, and San Francisco is at its heart.
This city offers a unique blend of modern culture and traditional class, but its hilly, busy streets can make it hard to find the hot spots. Here are a few pointers on how to maneuver through all the bustle and enjoy San Franciscan and all its beauty to the fullest.
4 Places You Must See While in San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge. Check. Pier 39. Check. Alcatraz. Check. So you’ve seen all the big ones—here are four more great sites you won’t want to miss!
The Oakland Temple
From miles away the Oakland Temple shines atop a hill just east of the San Francisco Bay in the city of Oakland. With its modern architecture, beautiful granite, and oriental motif, the structure stands as the second temple to be built in California. From the temple, the view spans across the San Francisco Bay. Here you can take some wonderful scenic pictures and enjoy a walk on the lovely temple grounds.
Golden Gate Park
This park stretches from the Pacific Ocean to the center of San Francisco, and is one of the largest urban parks in the world. There are many gardens to see within the park, such as the attractive Japanese Tea Garden and the Shakespeare Garden, which holds over 150 species of plants, all mentioned in Shakespeare’s works. And, if you enjoy live entertainment, be sure to visit the Spreckels Temple of Music, a band shell where free Sundays concerts have been given since 1899.
The Palace of Fine Arts and the Exploratorium
This beautiful palace is the sole survivor of a 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, which celebrated the completion of the Panama Canal. It was built of inexpensive wood and plaster because it was initially only supposed to last through the ten-month exposition. After the exposition it was spared demolition, but was left to crumble until it was rebuilt with reinforced steel in 1965. It is now one of the most prominent pieces of architecture in the city. The dome of the Rotunda sits in the center of the palace supported by Corinthian columns and an octagonal walkway. The exporatorium, built is 1969, is one of the best museums of science in the U.S. It provides 650 interactive exhibits to help visitors learn more about the world of science.
This hill got its name from the semaphore that was installed on its top in 1850 to signal to merchants the arrival of ships. The hill slopes down gently on the western side until it meets “Little Italy” in Washington Square. The east side, which drops away more abruptly, offers steep footpaths bordered by gardens. Telegraph Hill used to be home to immigrants and artists who appreciated the panoramic view. Today it is one of the city’s most valued residential areas.
While at the hill, be sure to visit Washington Square in Little Italy, Coit Tower and its handpainted murals, and the filbert Steps with their beautiful views of East Bay.
California Palace of the Legion of Honor
This museum, inspired by the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris, was built by Alma de Bretteville Spreckels in the 1920s to promote French art in California. The museum contains over 4,000 years of ancient and European artwork. But even if you don’t have time to visit the museum, take the drive up anyway: the view is spectacular! The museum hill provides a panoramic view of the bay and the bridge that you can’t see anywhere else.
The 49-Mile Scenic Drive
The easiest way for a determined tourist to capture some of the most spectacular views in San Francisco is to take a leisurely trip on the 49-Mile Scenic drive. The drive links some of the best views, most interesting sites, and most historic spots of the city. With plenty of places to stop, take pictures, and explore, this drive will be worth the gas money.
The drive is one loop around the city and is well marked with blue and white seagull signs. Some of the sites include the San Francisco National Maritime Museum, the Ferry Building, the Coit Tower, and Stow Lake.
The Haas-Lilienthal House
San Francisco is also home to a beautiful range of architecture, from late nineteenth-century Victorian mansions to imaginative, contemporary-style hotels and museums. The Haas-Lilienthal House (1886) is an impressive example of the Queen Anne architecture that filled the city in the late nineteenth century. This is the only private home of the period open to the public as a museum. Complete with elaborate wooden gables, a circular tower, and authentic furniture, the Haas-Lilienthal House is a historical and architectural masterpiece.
San Francisco Culture
San Francisco attracts immigrants from all over the world. Evidence of this multi-cultural city can be seen in every district. The city celebrates everything from the Chinese New Year to Cinco de Mayo. You can take a walk from the Stockton Street market in Chinatown to the cafes of “Little Italy” on North Beach, or from a jazz festival in the Fillmore District to a fiesta in the Mission District.