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San Francisco


1776   Franciscan monks build a mission near Yerba Buena Cove. Mexicans establish the Presidio, a fortified military post near the Golden Gate. 1849   The Gold Rush hits, and San Francisco is at its heart. San Francisco transforms from a small tent town to a rowdy city with a booming economy. 1850s   San Francisco has lots of unregulated gambling, and upwards of 1,000 gambling establishments. Mostly men, and a dearth of women. In 1850 about 2,000 arrived from France and other European nations and most became prostitutes. Broadway and Pacific Street area, plus Telegraph Hill, becomes a center for Chileno harlots and thieves. Sydney Ducks - Australian criminals, and Vigilance Committee - group that forms to stop their crimes. Ducks steal, murder, set many fires. Vigilance Committee manages to try and execute members of the Sydney Ducks, eventually ends them. This is in the area that becomes The Barbary Coast. Dives during this time: The Boar's Head, Goat and Compass, The Golden Rule, the Fierce Grizzly. Second Vigilance Committee finally gets rid of Sydney Ducks. 1860s   Sydney Town gone, welcome Barbary Coast. Boundaries East, by the waterfront and East Street (now the Embarcadero) South, by Clay and Commercial Streets West, by Grant Avenue and Chinatown North by Broadway, but including Telegraph Hill and parts of North Beach Alleys included Hinckley, Pinckley, Bartlett, China, Dupont, Sullivan, Bull Run, Moketown, and Dead Man's Alley. San Francisco Call - asks for law forbidding women to work in melodeons, dance-halls, and concert saloons. Law was passed, but ignored. No effort was ever made to enforce it. 1870s   Economic downturn in California economy, unemployment, leading to racist sentiment against the Chinese in particular. Local historian writes, "The Barbary Coast is the haunt of the low and the vile of every kind." 1876 On Pacific Street, Montgomery Street, Kearny Street, and Stockton Street, as well as others: Clothing stores Dance halls, melodeons, dives, wine and beer dens (deadfalls), concert saloons, groggeries. Dance halls & concern saloons - in cellars, low ceiling, rectangular rooms, bar to one side, clear space for dancing in center, one end a platform where performers danced and musicians played music. Some had pianos, some also a fiddle, trombone, and/or clarinet. Melodeons dance halls but no dance floor. Served liquor, entertainment. Named for originally having a reed organ with a suction bellows called a melodeon. Shows had bawdy songs, skits, dances, the cancan. Some catering to Mexicans and Negros, obscene poses by women. Northern limits of Barbary Cost: Row of Mexican fandango houses, on Broadway, opposite the County Jail. Police patrolled in pairs or more, never alone. 1876 - Another ordinance to remove women from saloons and drinking cellars between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. passed but was ignored until 1879. 1879: Police forbade the performance of the cancan and arrested Mabel Stantley of the Rentz Troupe, which played at the Standard. The Standard: high-class theater. Arrest made in March. San Francisco Chronicle journalist Charles Warren Stoddard accused Stantley of indecent exposure, because she failed to keep her skirts around her ankles. Stantley charged $200 by court. After police satisfied with victory, ignored the cancan dances. Types of entertainment. Lowest deadfalls Employed around 6 or so women. Aged, wasted by life. Dance halls Employed 10 to 50 women, from age 12 to old. Called "pretty waiter girls." Paid between $15 to $25/week, plus 25% commission on liquor sold, half their income from dancing, but ended up giving much of their money to their pimps. Performed on state, sold liquor. At least 90% were prostitutes. Require to prostitute themselves to any man who wanted them. Wore gaudy costumes Men could pay a small fee to strip any of the girls nude and see her "unadorned." Middle 1870s characters from dives The Galloping Cow Sister of The Dancing Heifer. Enormous woman, rarely bathed. "Sang" at melodeons and concert saloons. She and sister "lumbered like elephants." Opened a saloon on Pacific Street in 1878. The Dancing Heifer Sister of The Galloping Cow. Enormous woman, rarely bathed. "Sang" at melodeons and concert saloons. She and sister "lumbered like elephants." The Roaring Gimlet Very tall, skinny woman, shrill singing voice. The Waddling Duck Hugely fat, called the "only woman who could sing in two keys at the same time." Really, just screeched scales out of tune. Lady Jane Grey Handsome, middle-aged woman with a sad face. She claimed to be the illegitimate daughter of an English earl. She wore a cardboard coronet with colored glass glued to it as a crown. The Little Lost Chicken Tiny woman in her mid-twenties. Sang only one song, "The boat lies high, the boat lies low; she lies high and dry on the Ohio." Quavering falsetto, sometimes cried at the end of the song. She was a master pickpocket and stole from many men. Dance Halls & Concert Saloons Had cellar or sub-cellar, with a large floor and cubicles. Cubicles had cots in them. Pretty waiter girls and performers took men to these cots for prostitution. Often 15 minutes between dances so the women could make extra money servicing these men. Price: $0.75 to $1.00. Plus, they had to purchase two drinks at the bar: one for the girl, one for themselves. Bartender often made a show of putting an aphrodisiac in the woman's drink, but really she drank tea at whiskey prices. The job of women in these establishments was to make sure the men spent all the money they had on them. If they got stingy, they ended up drugged, robbed, and rolled. Places included: Bull Run, Canterbury Hall, the Louisiana, the Thunderbolt, the Cock l' the Walk, the Opera Comique, the Dew Drop Inn, the Rosebud, Every Man Welcome, Brooks' Melodeon, the Tulip, the Occidental, the Arizona, the Montana, the Coliseum/Big Dive. The Billy Goat Mid-1870s deadfall in a cellar at Pacific and Kearny Streets. Smelled of stale beer, damp sawdust, and unwashed people. Smoke permeated. Proprietor: Pigeon Toed Sal. Irishwoman. Had a derringer and a hickory wagon-spoke as weapons. Encouraged and participated in crimes in her establishment for 50% of the cut. Bull Run Vied with The Billy Goat for toughest den in San Francisco. Also known as Hell's Kitchen and Dance Hall. Managed by Irishman, One Year Tim. Master of ceremonies, chief bouncer. Owner: Ned Allen/Bull Run Allen, had fought in Union Army. Huge man, wore snow white ruffled shirt. Cluster of diamonds around neck. Large red nose that he powdered with flour. Three-story building at Pacific Street and Sullivan Alley. Dance hall/bar in cellar. Dance hall/bar on street floor. Assignation house (brothel) upstairs. 40 to 50 girls worked there. Brazen, hopeless, abandoned women. Motto: Anything goes here. Bull Run women drank beer by choice to dull their lives. The Opera Comique At Jackson and Kearny Streets. Proprietor: Happy Jack Harrington. Brown curly hair. Mustache so long he could tie it underneath his chin. Clothing: Frock coat, white shirt with ruffled bosom, fancy waistcoat, tight lavender or cream colored trousers. Came under the influence of the Praying Band - woman's christian temperance organization - in 1878. Partner: Dutch Louise, aka Big Louise Also known as Murderer's Corner. French and Spanish women as performers and pretty waiter girls. Bawdy and obscene shows, more than anywhere else on the Barbary Coast. More Respectable Resorts Also called melodeons or concert saloons The Bella Union, the Olympic, the Pacific, Bert's New Idea Melodeon, the Adelphi, Gilbert's Melodeon. Catered to stag (male) audiences. No dancing. Charged admission ranging from one bit to 50 cents. Revenue came from that and sale of liquor. No pretty waiter girls. Discouraged drugging and robbery. Female performers were still required to sell drinks. More professional women performers, seldom prostitutes. Many of these women, and male performers became dramatic, vaudeville, and musical comedy stars of the American stage. Performers who became popular included Ned Harrigan, Lotta Crabtree, James A. Hearne, J.H. O'Neill, Maggie Brewer, Eddie Foy, Junie McCree, Pauline Markham, Jefferson de Angelis, and Flora Walsh. The Bella Union Most popular of these resorts On Washington and Kearny streets. Ned Harrigan a frequent performer after performing at Gilbert's Melodeon three times and being kicked out. Originally a gambling house, from 1849. Destroyed several times by Sydney Ducks. Latest one built in 1868, lasted until 1906. Variety house, playing to men only. But sometimes opened as a family theater showing melodramas. Samuel Tetlow, proprietor from 1856 to 1880. Partners with Billy Skeantlebury (whom he shot and killed in 1880). See page 127 of The Barbary Coast for advertisement. Crowded practically every night. Bawdy shows. Layout: large bar room, "very pretty little theater" with a circle of curtained boxes around it. Painted drop curtain, draws up to show male and female performers. Songs and dances of "licentious and profane character." Chinatown The 1870 census shows 71,328 Chinese in California, more than half of whom live in San Francisco. Occupied the upper part of Sacramento Street. Area was known first as Little China with the inhabitants called China Boys. In the 1860s, dubbed Chinatown. Work Demographics Cooks and domestic servants in white households: 5,000 men Cigar makers: 4,000 men Manufacture of men's clothing and women's underwear: 5,000 men Laundries: 2,000 men Chinese women, primarily slave prostitutes. Enemies Hoodlums Gang of young thieves and brawlers. Also a nuisance to the police. Members aged from 12 to 30. Term dates from 1868 in San Francisco. Shifted from a capital H to a lowercase h by 1872. Lots of robberies and other crimes. Had an elected captain who planned crimes and assigned members of gang to commit them. Stole whatever they could and sold it to fences and dealers on the Barbary Coast. Membership could include girls, almost always more dangerous than the boys. 1878 - 13-year-old girl known as Little Dick led a gang of more than 20 boys about the same age. Stole a hundred revolvers from a gun shop,distributed them to her followers, sold the remainder on the Barbary Coast, and got caught and put in an institution. Loved to torment Chinese people. Weapons of choice Hickory bludgeon fists brass or iron knuckles knife Clothing Strove to be fashionable, to wear quality clothing. This became prominent in the 1880s: hairs oiled and puffed, curled on the sides, parted in the middle, wore velvet best, black or olive frock coat with peaked sleeves that rose to their ears, knee-high boots of calfskin, a sombrero, a ruffled whit shirt with a low collar, a black string tie, tight fawn-colored trousers. Many were proud of the name "hoodlum" and considered themselves above the law. As a group, violently hated the Chinese. Would go on street cars, tie two Chinese men's queues together, and cut off the ends. Set fire to laundries and wash-houses, invaded other Chinese businesses, robbed and beat proprietors, stole the earnings of the slave girls, stormed their brothels and insisted they submit to "frightful abuses." Attacked any Chinese person who ventured into a part of the city where they were: the waterfront, Telegraph Hill, northern Barbary Coast, and Tar Flat (south of Market Street). Hoodlum Revolt of 1877 July 24, 1877 - Gang of several hundred hoodlums attacked Chinese laundries and wash houses around the city, wrecking several, setting fire to a wash house at Turk and Leavenworth. The National Guard responded to protect potential riot areas. About 200 men who enrolled under the standard of the Committee of Safety joined them, to protect the Chinese (and public) from hoodlums. On the afternoon of July 25, the hoodlums attacked several Chinese men again. Demolished interiors of several Chinese stores and laundries. A group of about 500 men attempted to burn the docks of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, which had brought in most of the Chinese. Company's property protected by police, National Guard, and the Pick Handle Brigade. Drove away hoodlums and saved the ships and docks. July 26, hundreds of San Franciscans join the Pick Handle Brigade as members of the Committee of Safety. Between 3,500 and 4,000 men on duty fought the hoodlums and ended the hoodlum revolt. Creed involved in these events would be fascinating. Specific Hoodlums. Billy Smith Leader of a gang known as the Valley Boys or Rising Star Club. Had about 200 followers, all thugs. Expert at rough-and-tumble fighting. Gouger, biter. Used only his fists and a pair of corrugated iron knuckles that covered the entire back of his hands. (Could I steampunk these out, make them more deadly?) Sent to prison in 1871, later returned, no longer lead a group, but was still a hoodlum. (Details on page 161-162.) James Riley Known as "Butt Riley" and "King of the Hoodlums." Born in New York in 1848. Became a sailor. Landed in San Francisco in the late summer of 1868. Just over 6' tall. Weighed around 200 pounds. "Extraordinarily" handsome. Eagerly sought as a lover by prostitutes, and they paid him. Sold photos of himself to prostitutes for $0.25. To his favorites, he sold nudes for $0.50. Had new photos made every Monday. Weapons: set of brass knuckles, a hickory bludgeon, a slung shot, a big knife, seldom used any. Instead, rushed his opponents with his head and butted them in the belly or the point of the chin. Demolished doors of Chinese homes or slave dens. Would butt Chinese men with his head when his boys captured one. Butted one 160 pound man 10 feet. Would splinter doors on bets for $0.50 or $1.00 depending on the thickness. Once, on a $5.00 bet, he butted a hole in a thick oak door and that gave him his first headache. Shot in 1871, then committed a robbery in 1876 and was sent to San Quentin for 15 years. Probably won't fit into the story, unless I can learn about that robbery and it fits. Leland Stanford, founder of Stanford University and California governor from 1861 - 1863, wrote that Chinese immigration should be discouraged by every legitimate means. Called whites the "superior race." California Legislature - Voted in 1863 that Chinese could not give testimony in any legal action in which a white man was involved. General San Francisco Sentiment April 15, 1874: Gigantic mass-meeting, more than 20,000 attendees, held in San Francisco. Various state and city officials berated the Chinese. Said that there were no virtuous Chinese women (Chinawoman) in America, that the Chinese had no wives are children. Complained about the different diet, said they were of no benefit to the U.S., that all Chinese were slaves, that the Chinese brought no benefit to banks or importers. The Six Companies, a Chinese leadership group, categorically denied these and wrote a rebuttal. An ordinance prohibited carrying baskets suspended from a pole upon the shoulders to go after Chinese laundrymen. (This wasn't enforced as it had no penalty.) Another ordinance prohibited them from shipping their dead home, and yet another (vetoed by Mayor William Alvord but passed anyway) put a tax of $15/quarter on anyone working in a Chinese laundry. Another made it illegal to sleep in a room containing less than 500 cubic of space for each person, making virtually all rooms where Chinese people slept illegal. June 14, 1876: Made the Chinese queue/pigtail illegal. Hardly ever enforced (called for cutting it off by police), but rulled invalid in 1879 by U.S. Circuit Court. Chinese Prostitutes Primarily brought to San Francisco for white men. White men were their best customers. Started in middle 1850s. Around 1869, Chinese women were brought in "in bulk" in each China steamer. In mid-1870s, between 1,500 and 2,000 Chinese prostitutes, conservative estimate. Neither federal nor city authorities tried to change this until the exclusion laws of the mid 1880s. Sometimes police intercepted ships and sent the woman to asylums or mission homes, at request of the Six Companies or an American reform agency. Often very young: 8 to 13 years old was common. Ah Toy - Early prostitute, 1850. Had rich partners and lovers. Eventually bought her freedom. Became an importer of girls, opened dives in San Francisco, Sacramento, other cities. Returned to China. Around 1869, Chines girls sold to prosperous tradesmen and wealthy merchants. Price: $200 to $500 each according to youth, beauty, and attractiveness. "The refuse" were sold to brothels. Selina - 1880s. Page 173. Brothels (called bagnios throughout San Francisco) in Chinatown. Parlor house - Found mainly on Grant Avenue, Ross Alley, Waverly Place, and here and there in important thoroughfares. Furnished with bamboo, teakwood, embroidered hangings, soft couches, cushions of embroidered silk, with exotic paintings of clouds, and fragrant incense in the air. All to give a sense of the Orient (called that at the time). Four to 25 girls, seductively perfumed, richly clad. Crib - many, located on Jackson Street, Washington Street, and alleys like China, Bartlett, Stout and Church. China Alley was a dingy 15-foot passage from Jackson to Washington. All cribs. Small, 1 story shacks 12 ft wide and 14 ft deep, divided into 2 rooms by heavy, coarse curtains. Occupied by from 2 to 6 girls. Girls wore black silk blouse with narrow band of turquoise, with embroidered flowers on the band. Band extended across the front and back. Sometimes silken trousers in cold weather, but often just the blouse. Invitations girls gave included, "China girl nice! You come inside, please?" or "Your father, he just go out!" The idea being that men like having sex with the same women their father's did. Or "Two bittee lookee, flo bittee feelee, six bittee doee!" Whether in cribs or parlor houses, Chinese prostitutes were cleanly. Shaved entire body, took frequent baths. Masters always compelled Chinese prostitutes to entertain every man who applied, so up to 90% of them had an STI. Parlor houses refused boys of sixteen or seventeen, but cribs did not. In fact, even boys as young as 10 or 12 could sometimes be found in the cribs. These girls were technically slaves, owned by syndicates of Chinese men or women like Madame Ah Toy. When they arrived, girls put into slavery with a contract. The price in gold for the girl put into the girl's hand. She handed it to the man who offered her for sale, then signed a contract. Contract stated she had received the money into her own hands and agreed to serve as a prostitute for a specific number of years. In 1870s & 1880s, it also said if she was sick 1 day, 2 weeks would be added to her time. If more than 1 day, 1 month added. If she ran away, she agreed to serve as a prostitute for life. Girls got sick often enough that basically, they were forced to be prostitutes for life anyway. Even her period added to her time. Note - Brothels that rich Chinese men went to had white women addicted to opium. Note - Some rich Chinese men had their own harems of Chinese girls. The End of a Prostitute's Career In the 1860s and 1870s, when Chinese prostitutes were broken mentally and physically, they were carried into small, dismal rooms in back alleys of Chinatown. These were called "hospitals." Left alone to die. Described by San Francisco Chronicle as "loathsome in the extreme." Girls slept on old rice mats. No table, chairs, stools, windows. Girls would be notified, when no longer useful as prostitutes, that they must die and sent to these death rooms. This is one place Maxwell Gregg will recruit people for his experiments. In later years, a woman named Miss Donaldina Cameron would help improve conditions, but she was born in New Zealand in 1869, and not around at the time of these stories. Chines Tongs These were the gangs of Chinatown. Involved in every criminal scheme in the quarter. Originated in the U.S. Major tongs, organized around 1860 by Chinese in the Marysville gold fields as "mutual benefit associations." Spread to railroad construction camps, then to the coast, and throughout the U.S. Hop Sings Suey Sings First tong war between Hop Sings and Suey Sings over a girl. See page 184 if relevant. By about 1870, about 20 tongs in Chinatown. Operated gambling resorts, opium dens, houses of prostitution. Controlled the slave trade by collecting a head tax on every girl imported. Employed professional killers and had a force of "boo how doy..." fighting men. Favorite weapons: hatchets, knives, bludgeons. Left weapons with the bodies of those they killed. Boo how doy also called hatchetmen and highbinders, had regular salaries. Paid extra for bravery in battle, bonuses based on number of kills. Little Pete - Real name Fung Jin Toy 11 years old in 1876. Watched fight between Suey Sings and Kwong Docks in 1875 from a 3rd floor balcony at Washington St. and Waverly Place. Later head of the Sum Yop Tong. Waterfront Eastern and North Eastern parts of Barbary Cost: the waterfront. Most dangerous part. Police patrolled in pairs. Went in larger numbers when raiding or searching for criminals in dives. Police in Barbary Coast, primarily waterfront All brave, strong, and husky. Carried regulation night stick, pistol, large knife 1 foot long. Sgt. Thomas Langford. (This was 1880s) Decapitated a hoodlum with his blade. Found men ransacking second hand clothes store on Pacific Street. Rushed them down as they shot at him. First swing, cut a guy's head nearly clean off, wounded others badly. Other hoodlums fled in terror. From then on hoodlums terrified of him. Area crowded with saloons and brothels, especially on these streets: Davis, East (now the Embarcadero), Front, Battery, Pacific, Jackson, Washington. Catered to sailors. High chance for them to get robbed and shanghaied. Related slang: "Shanghai voyage." "Voyage to Shanghai." Ships Communication between shore and ships anchored in Bay of San Francisco handled by "Whitehall boats." These were large skiffs. Scoundrels and Shanghaiers Old Activity Red Shirt. Mexican guy, ended up shot by police. Shanghai Kelly Runners used skiffs to board ships, entice seamen off boats, bring them to establishments for $3 to $5 a head. Would force those who wouldn't come willingly. Runner gear: revolver, knife, blackjack or sling (slung) shot, pair of brass knuckles, obscene pictures, flask of liquid soap, rum and whiskey dosed with Spanish fly. Got away with boarding vessels even though illegal. There was a $100 fine for this, but it was rarely enforced. Crimps then shanghaied sailors out to other ships. Often sent weak, non-sailors, too. Drugged to where men were fully knocked out and appeared lifeless. Sometimes sent dead men, even murdered men, even covered up murders. Rarely caught 'til out at sea. City Facts of 1876 Mayor: Andrew Jackson Bryant. Signed things A.J. Bryant.


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Frisco, The City
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