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Resurrecting the Surprising Past of San Francisco

August 4th, 2011 by The JetSetter Team | Comments Off on Resurrecting the Surprising Past of San Francisco

San Francisco, California. Depending upon your political and cultural persuasion, the very name probably conjures a certain procession of images to mind, and they might all be correct. Today this central coastal California city is famous for food, far-left politics, and gay marriage. Not too long ago it was ground zero for a bunch of spaced out hippies. But according to Gadling.com, San Francisco in the latter half of the 19th century was a pretty wild place to be.

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“…150 years ago was filled with petty thieves and prostitutes, sailors and sojourners, Chinese opium smokers and cheats; it was a city of ill repute. And the epicenter of it all was a neighborhood called the Barbary Coast.

Named because the neighborhood’s infamy reminded observers of the dangerous, pirate-swarmed North African waters and the feared Berber cameleers who lingered just off the southern Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast occupied what is today parts of Chinatown, Jackson Square, North Beach, and the Financial District. These days, the area is much more civilized. But there was a time when San Fracisco was the wildest city in America, thanks to the salacious and cut throat world of the Barbary Coast.

Unfortunately for fans of debauchery and unlawfulness (and, really, who’s not?), this infamous 19th-century San Francisco neighborhood eventually disappeared from the map; sunk by the 1906 earthquake and then its dark heart pierced by

the silver dagger of political reforms and “vice squads” that wiped the grime from the area for good by the second decade of the 20th century.”

If that little trip down memory lane doesn’t make you want to up and book a flight to San Francisco, you must be dead inside. Recently, the city created a four-mile long Barbary Coast Trail to memorialize those wicked and thrilling days of yesteryear. Follow the bronze medallions embedded in the sidewalk as you meander past (and obviously stop to patronize) the historic pubs, restaurants, and cathedrals of Chinatown and Little Italy. It’s hard to fathom the thought now, but San Francisco used to personify all that was wild and woolly about the westward expansion of the United States. If you haven’t made the pilgramage in while – or never – why not make this the year you give the city a chance to overcome it’s unfortunate association with Diane Feinstein, among others? You just might like what you find.

The Jetsetter Show Team







(Flickr / http2007)

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