Every visit to San Francisco should definitely include a picnic view of the Golden Gate Bridge , either from C rissy Field or Baker Beach , and then a walk or bike across it. You can ferry back from Sausalito, by the way. The Marina is often stereotyped by expensive athleisure and avocado toast. Speaking of parks, Golden Gate Park is absolutely beautiful and frankly underrated. The park is also home to the de Young Museum and the Academy of Sciences.
The Exploratorium has a similar Thursday night experience. I think that should get your inspiration flowing. There are tons of unique things to do in San Francisco, so check out my 3 day itinerary. Beer fans, go to Fieldwords! Berkeley is famous for its local university but is a charming place to visit otherwise. The local Cal Sailing Club also offers free sailing tours in the Berkeley Marina on certain nights, which is one our favorite free things to do in California!
Half Moon Bay is a sleepy, foggy beach town. I grew up visiting the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and beaches, and it still holds a very nostalgic place in my heart. Head to Capitola area for ice cream with the family. This area marks the beginning of Big Sur. As you drive south, the views only become better and more dramatic. Also part of the greater Bay Area, but a world away from the above section is the region known as North Bay. This area is also where rich hippies settle down. Both make for excellent day-long road trips from San Francisco.
This area is home to some truly incredible wide open beaches and forests. Definitely try to snag a spot here. A great road trip pit stop. This part of the California Coast is one of my favorite destinations in the state. The only way to get around Big Sur is the single-lane Highway 1, which hugs the coastline, sandwiched between mountains and sea. This makes for incredible views, but also awful traffic. Try to avoid passing through on a weekend, especially in summer. Andrew Molera State Park has some great ocean view hiking trails. Pfeiffer Beach is famous for its keyhole formation and purple sand.
This is definitely worth the trip. McWay Falls is probably the most photographed place in California. I mean, it is a waterfall that dumps straight onto a gorgeous beach. San Simeon in the south, marks the end of Big Sur. If you have time, visit the Hearst Castle, where zebras still roam and art worth billions still hangs from the gaudy rooms. This place is crazy.
The Highway 1 merges with the in San Luis Obispo. This college town is one of the golden gems of California. Both SLO and Santa Barbara county have certain ordinances that do not allow the areas to develop rapidly, meaning they keep their charming town feel. SLO is like another planet. San Luis Obispo is surrounded by woods, volcanic-formed hills, and rugged coastline, all of which are prime places for hiking and adventure sports. Los Osos has great rock climbing. Farmers Market on Thursday nights is always a hit. The wine scene is actually great in the SLO area and totally underrated. Stop for lunch or stay if you can afford it at the Madonna Inn.
Santa Barbara is just 80 minutes south. Larger than SLO, the tempo is a bit more upbeat here, but not too much more. Really, this is where people from LA come to chill the fuck out. But they do have a nightlife scene downtown.
In Santa Barbara, you also have your pick of excellent beaches, wine, and awesome food. South of SB, you will hit a couple of beach towns like Ventura, which lets you know you will soon be approaching the famous beaches of Malibu and the OC soon. I highly suggest basing yourself in the area that interests you most. Thankfully, we have already written a separate city guide for Los Angeles, which you can study here. Check our LA hostel guide too.
Santa Monica has good vibes. Venice Beach is great for people watching, skating, and their food truck nights. Visit the Griffith Observatory. Hike around the Hollywood sign as the locals do. Once crime-ridden and neglected areas like Koreatown, Silverlake, and Echo Park are on the rise. West Hollywood is great for going out. Multi-ethnic and healthy food is all over the city. When I talk to travelers about California, they often picture surfer towns, perpetual sunshine, and laidback beach vibes.
Most are surprised when I tell them the water is mostly freezing and a lot of our coastline is rugged and wild. Well, up north anyway. What most people actually imagine is sunny San Diego, the perfect Southern California destination. This beach city is known for its amazing weather, excellent surf, fish tacos, and craft beer. Do you need anything else in life!? Refer to our comprehensive San Diego city guide, here , for more in-depth information.
Sacramento where? I fondly think of Sacramento as the forgotten state capitol of California. Which by the way is a shame! Cool bars, breweries, and restaurants are opening up all the time. Sacramento now calls itself the Farm to Fork City; expect the food and produce to be top notch.
Old Town Sacramento — which still resembles the mining towns of the s is fun to check out on a first visit to Sacramento too. If anything, stop through Mid-Town for lunch and a beer. If you stay overnight, check out the Ace of Spades , which has some pretty awesome concerts. Lake Tahoe is one of my favorite places in California, if not the world.
I visit Lake Tahoe multiple times a year, often celebrating my anniversary here. Each side of the lake has a different vibe and list of things to do. South Lake is the most developed and the largest town. Hike the Rubicon trail around here for awesome views. You can also access Desolation Wilderness from this area. Bliss Beach is another gem on the western shores.
The Winter Olympics took place at Squaw Valley. The east side is Nevada, but also home to some awesome beaches and beautiful waters. Definitely check it out. Donner Lake is quite pretty too. And speaking of Donner Lake, keep in mind that there are many other alpine lakes in the surrounding area, which are beautiful and great to hike around when the Tahoe summer crowds get to be too much.
Summer is the most popular time of year to visit Lake Tahoe. Swimmers, hikers, and boaters all enjoy the crystal clear and very cold water. You can even river raft down the Truckee weather. I love visiting in the fall when the crowds thin out but the water temperatures are still manageable. I highly suggest renting kayaks or standup paddleboards for a couple hours.
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The opening of the ski season varies wildly depending on the year as the climate is becoming increasingly unpredictable. Photo Rock Slatter. Sacred to rock climbers, thru-hikers, naturalists, and anyone with two eyeballs, Yosemite is one of the best places to experience California nature.
Yosemite is a 4-hour drive away from the Bay Area. It would take hours to drive around it, and there are thousands of backcountry trails within Yosemite wilderness. Yosemite Valley is the most famous part of Yosemite, where the famous Granite rocks shoot up to the sky. The only first-come first-serve campsite in the valley is Camp 4 , notorious in the rock climbing world. Here is where sports climbing reigns, as the pros climb up the likes of El Capitan and Half Dome, 3, feet. Beyond Yosemite Valley, the is also one of the most beautiful and famous roads in California because it goes over the Tioga Pass.
Views are plentiful and astounding in the summer but during the winter the pass is closed. If you are visiting more than one national park on your California trip, we highly suggest buying an America the Beautiful pass. Book Your Yosemite Lodge Here. Speaking of epic National Parks, the state parks around the northern Redwoods that make up Redwoods National Park are one of my favorite places in the world! This area is a series of protected forests, beaches, and grasslands along the Northern California coast. The trails are mostly moderate, so people of all ages can enjoy them. And I promise you, the service in the Redwoods is virtually non-existent, but the connection to nature is definitely strongest.
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park has trails through dense old-growth woods. For help planning your trip, visit the National Park Service site here. Photo by Ana Pereira. Between these many parks are some of the best hikes in California. If you pack your tent and camping supplies, you can stay busy for a lifetime. California is an absolutely massive state and there are plenty of opportunities to get off the beaten path. Basically, you should get away from the coast stretching from LA to SF to get off the beaten path, but even then there are plenty of hidden beaches and towns.
The Lost Coast is one of the most underdeveloped and remote places in California, so rugged they had to abandon plans to build the Highway along this section of the coast. Really though, anywhere this far north can be considered off the beaten path, so much so this area is notorious for attracting people trying to escape their past and get off the grid. Look at a map, and any forest labeled wilderness is probably a good bet for getting away from crowds. Anywhere in the Eastern Sierra Nevadas is also pretty off the grid. For more inspiration, here are 50 of my favorite places to visit in California.
This California travel guide will give you the low down. While you have plenty of options for places to stay in California, most of them are not cheap. California — and the US for that matter — do not cater to backpackers well. In other words, your pickings for budget accommodation are slim. My first suggestion is to camp.
Venice Historical Society - Venice, California
Camp, camp, camp. Cheap hotels in California are bland and bleak, and often in the less desirable places and neighborhoods, but they get the job done. Hostels in California are actually quite nice and the most affordable accommodation for solo travelers. Airbnbs in California are usually a better option than hotels, but do your research and check all of your options. Remember, Airbnb actually started in SF, as did Couchsurfing for that matter. Organizes lots of social events e. Free breakfast. Organizes free sailing trips as well as trips to local natural attractions.
Free breakfast and pizza. Monterey HI Monterey Great location in the town and free parking! Pancake breakfast. Offers discounted tours. Oakland Berkley Knights Inn A nice cheap motel. Good services and amenities. Located near BART station. Yosemite Yosemite Bug Rustic A eco-hostel retreat that has a spa on site and natural spring very close by.
Located bit away from Yosemite Valley. Very close to the beach and gondola. Offers ski storage. Free parking! Ornate decorations. Communal garden. Located very near the coast. Most US states have thousands and thousands of acres of public land and free campsites. You can get a backcountry permit, however, for just a few dollars and sometimes for free. Any protected area is going to also require a permit, though again, it might be free. Regardless, you will have to pick up permits and bear canisters at the visitor center of said park. National forests, Public Land managed by the Federal Bureau known as BLM , grasslands, and other federal areas do allow free camping, though you will almost always have to bring your own water and carry out your own trash.
The areas where you can camp for free are pretty much nowhere near the coast, FYI. There are free places to camp that dot the coast, but they are rare and not always easy to get to. There are a number of free campgrounds in California that road-trippers should totally take advantage of. Refer below for a list of these. Note that electricity, bathrooms, and running water are not guaranteed at any of the grounds.
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Bring water just in case. Check out the guide I wrote to the best hikes in California. Nothing is more quissentential than a road trip along the California Coast — Highway to 1, specifically. The most famous stretch of coastal highway has got to be Big Sur , but if you really want to go big, follow my California Itinerary 2 and road trip from San Diego to Eureka and see everything the California coast has to offer.
The California coast looks something like this. One of the best things to do in San Fracisco is walk or bike across. Yosemite is amazing year-round; hike in the summer, watch the leaves turn in the valley in the fall, go snowshoeing and ice skating in the winter, and catch the waterfalls at full force in the spring. California is home to some of the best hikes in the USA.
You are absolutely spoilt for choices. The Sierras are pristine for alpine lakes and mountains.
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Morning on the Lost Coast. An epic place to go hiking in California. Photo: Wendy Seltzer. Mexican food is arguably better in California than Mexico. Wait, did I just write that? Let me introduce you to a couple of reasons why: burritos a Californian thing by the way , tacos revolutionized in California , and avocado where the trend began. Best places to eat Mexican food have to be the Mission neighborhood in San Francisco, LA, and anywhere in San Diego, but really you can find a good spot anywhere in the state with a little help from Yelp.
Surf and Sand. Skateboarding subculture. Good food and strange people. That is Venice. Oh, and some of the best people watching anywhere in the USA. Venice Beach has produced some legendary skaters and surfers over the years…. Lake Tahoe is a winter wonderland, a summer wonderland, and everything in between. Hit the slopes, trails, and lake shores for ultimate bliss.
Photo by Rock Slatter. There are so many professional sports teams in California, it would take me a while to list them all. Basketball, baseball, NFL football, hockey, surfing: there is a sports event for everyone in California! Tip: Go watch a college game to get the full American sports experience. Prepare to tailgate, in other words, start drinking beer at 8 am. Other recommendations include catching a minor league baseball game like the River Cats in Sacramento. Have you ever heard of Coachella? Other epic festivals include multi-genre Outside Lands in SF for chill park vibes.
Lightning in a Bottle or Symbiosis for alternative arts, yoga, and electronic music. Stagecoach for country music taking place in Coachella Valley after Coachella. Other amenities include private patios, fully equipped kitchens, Internet and flat screen TVs. The location allows for access to the ocean, beach, posh shops and restaurants of La Jolla.
Romantic places near me this weekend, all inclusive, live music, unique shopping in town, nightlife for tourists: Winnipeg , Beijing , Paris hotels , romantic Niagara Falls This boutique oasis has 24 rooms and spacious, secluded gardens overlooking the surrounding rolling hills. An extensive continental breakfast is included with each booking. Other amenities include marble bathrooms, in-room fireplaces and free Internet throughout the property.
Spa services are also offered on-site. Day trips from, guided vacations, essential facts, solo destinations, vacation spots for seniors, pictures: Southern Florida Beaches , Maine Beaches , Things to Do in Yellowstone The experience comes with many amenities one would expect, such as an extensive continental breakfast and in-room Internet access. However, the Aurora offers additional surprises including an ocean-view roof top deck, evening wine and cheese and complimentary beach bags and towels.
The interior is decorated in a modern artistic style and provides a perfect complement to the beautiful views of Catalina and the bay. Palm Springs Rendezvous is a 10 room boutique hotel that offers guests the chance to experience Palm Springs as it once was. The hotel offers many extras to entice visitors including a 3-course breakfast, free happy hour appetizers and cocktails by the pool and complimentary bikes for exploring Palm Springs. An on-site massage studio caters to both individuals and couples.
Fun, funky and friendly, this location is an adventure. Each of the rooms is decorated in Victorian-style and provides romantic, old-world charm. Each morning features a special cooked dish for breakfast as well as traditional continental breakfast fare. A living room, dining room and library are all provided as common areas for relaxing or meeting fellow guests. Tea and cake are available in the afternoons. The Bissell House also has a secluded pool and patio for guests to use. Romantic date ideas in October, November, interesting historic road trip, food, beautiful beaches near me: Things to Do in Chelsea , Best time to visit New York The property offers rooms with scenic ocean views, as well as suites with marble bathrooms and outdoor Jacuzzis.
Club level guests receive free access to the fitness center, free breakfast, drinks and hors d'oeuvres. Poolside cabanas can be booked for a full day of relaxation in the Californian sun. Two dining options include the Lobby Lounge which is casual and serves light fare throughout the day. There is much to do in the major city of Los Angeles, with the spotlight on movie-centric stops like Universal Studios Hollywood and the Warner Bros.
Studio Tour. And for something more focused on art and architecture, the many moguls of Southern California have bequeathed their beautiful estates and artistic collections for the public to enjoy today. In short, this part of the country is more than just movies and stars; it has a little something for everyone. Disneyland Resort is the overarching entertainment resort that houses the Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure theme parks, as well as three hotels and Downtown Disney, a shopping and dining district.
Disney California Adventure came about much later in , and this park is devoted entirely to celebrating the state of California, with elements of the Disney brand peppered in among famous California landmarks. The Downtown Disney area, which makes longer stays at the resort more convenient, is packed with Disney-themed and ordinary retail stores, as well as eateries ranging from fast food joints to sit-down restaurants. The Getty Center is an entire educational campus area on a hill overlooking the city of Los Angeles.
The campus houses a number of buildings, including one of the two locations of the J. Paul Getty Museum. To reach the center and its accompanying structures, visitors park their cars in a lot at a lower elevation and take a funicular cable car ride up to the hilltop. The museum houses a diverse, extensive collection of art that incorporates sculptures, drawings, manuscripts, photographs from three continents, and a set of preth-century paintings.
Outside at the center, there is a large sculpture garden. The house was originally built between and for David B. The beautiful wooden home is three stories high and provides an unparalleled example of the American Arts and Crafts architectural style. This movement in architecture highlighted natural materials and a focus on detailed craftsmanship. In keeping with this tradition, the Gamble House has interiors lined with features made from different types of wood, which are shown off by the natural light allowed in by large windows.
The property offers group, docent-led, and specialty tours. Balboa Park is a large public green space in the city of San Diego. Covering 1, acres, the park has a great number of attractions, including vegetation areas, open spaces, and walking paths, as well as more built-up structures such as museums, theaters, and the San Diego Zoo. Fleet Science Center. There are also a number of botanical gardens with different themes such as the desert and the California and Australia ecosystems, as well as Japanese-style and rose gardens.
Additionally, visitors can enjoy theme park attractions while at the park. Huntington Library is part of a larger complex in San Marino, California that also contains botanical gardens and collection of art. Although the entire grounds are worth a peek, the library itself is a treasure chest of , rare books and seven million manuscripts. Huntington Library is in fact a research library with rare books, manuscripts, prints, photographs, and similar items as its primary specializations. Its works span periods from the Middle Ages to the present, with several concentrations.
The English Renaissance and the American Southwest are represented especially well. Despite their location in an urban center, the pits are a well-known attraction because of what they show about nature. The tar that has seeped up to the surface from underground here has trapped bones from different animal species over the course of centuries.
Visits to the pits include excursions to a number of different areas. Guests can tour curated pits, learn about the fossilization process, see experts carrying out up-close research at the center, and even travel back in time to meet creatures from the Ice Age. This art museum certainly has a high pedigree; works include projects by famous artists such as Joan Miro, Wassily Kandinsky, and Alexander Calder.
SeaWorld San Diego is a family-friendly, exciting theme park that specializes in marine life, with animal residents from many different species such as penguins, killer whales, walruses, polar bears, and otters, to name just a few. With over four million visitors each years, SeaWorld San Diego is a massive complex with all kinds of things to do. In addition to the famous shows featuring orcas, dolphins, and other sea creatures that have made the park famous, SeaWorld is also home to natural marine habitats, such as Dolphin Point and Turtle Reef.
The park also has splash and play areas for the little ones and large thrill rides for adventure seekers. The resort is composed of an amusement park, a water park, an aquarium, and a hotel. The activities in each area are targeted towards younger children, and they serve as the location for performances, rides, walk-through attractions, and other games such as mini golf. All are accompanied by various Lego creations, including miniatures of famous world monuments like the Eiffel Tower, Golden Gate Bridge, and Taj Mahal.
The Midway was in operation from until , and , soldiers have served on its decks. The ship museum has an extensive collection of US-made naval aircraft, which are located in its hangar deck. Visits to the USS Midway include a self-directed audio tour. Immigration provided only a few replacements.
California's remoteness remained a major impediment to Mexican immigration throughout the period. Nearly impossible to reach overland because of deserts and hostile Indians, California was tied to the Mexican mainland by the annual visits of a single ship, carrying news, supplies, soldier's pay, and occasional new recruits. Spanish land use and mercantile policies exacerbated the problem of isolation. Trade with foreign vessels was prohibited while virtually all of the productive land was held by the missions.
With nothing more than soldiering or subsistence farming to attract them, immigrants arrived rarely and left almost as frequently. When the United States seized the area in there were fewer than 8, Mexican Californians. Dating the end of the Mexican period and the start of Americanization is not easy. Formally California became part of the United States in , but the American presence began long before then, and well before the flags changed California had become economically dependent on American ships and American goods.
The whaling ships and trading vessels that began to appear off the California coast in the s represented yet another stage of global reorganization, the start of a great age of transportation improvements that would bring vast new areas into the trading and colonial system of the North Atlantic economies. Over the course of the nineteenth century the far corners of the Pacific region would gradually lose their remoteness.
Still an island in every sense but the literal one at the start of this period, California would by century's end be firmly bound to the American mainland by blood, outlook, and economy. Paradoxically Mexico's independence from Spain in opened California to American economic penetration. Abandoning the restrictive policies that had strangled economic activity in the province, the new government in Mexico city allowed free access to the ports, began the redistribution of mission lands, and liberalized immigration procedures.
This was good news to the shoe and candle manufacturers of New England who now provided a market for the great herds of cattle that grazed the California hills. The trade brought new wealth to the province and also new people, most notably Americans. A steady trickle of merchants and former sailors took advantage of lax immigration rules and settled in the coastal pueblos, sometimes becoming ranchers, more often providing commercial and artisanal services that were in short supply. More ominous from the Mexican point of view was the growing presence of Americans in the inland valleys.
Coming overland or drifting down from Oregon, these newcomers stayed clear of the Mexican settlements and Mexican law and built their own base of operations in the Sacramento Valley, some of them intending to "play the Texas game. American trade and immigration after foretold the eventual takeover of California. But the official statements of the American government were no less clear. Even as Mexico was securing its independence from Spain, American ambassadors were offering to buy California, either alone or with other parts of what eventually became the American Southwest.
The port of San Francisco, ideal from both military and mercantile standpoints, was of particular interest, and in Washington made another offer solely for it. These negotiations reveal an important aspect of America's geographic ambitions. The purpose was not necessarily trans-continental completion.
Washington was seeking a Pacific outpost. Cognitively and geo-politically, California remained an island, reachable only by sea, every bit as remote as the Sandwich Islands which shared the same trade route. America's first off-shore acquisition came about not through negotiation but war.
California was one of the prizes of America's first full-scale expansionist war, fought on Mexican soil in and It was in itself not a brutal experience for the residents of California, who resisted valiantly but without great loss of life. But that was merely the prelude.
Signatures had not yet been affixed to the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo when the real act of conquest began. The discovery of gold in early did for California in five extraordinary years what generations could not do in New Mexico and some other parts of the Southwest, completely Americanize it. The gold rush was, as John Caughey put it some years ago, "the cornerstone," the seminal event in the creation of American California, indeed in the whole later history of the far west. As an economic event, it transformed the meaning and purpose of the frontier West.
The old West, the Mississippi Valley, had been a frontier of trappers and farmers whose slowly developing commerce with the rest of the nation depending on river towns and river boats. The new West that gold-rush California introduced was not really a frontier at all. It was a ready-made enterprise zone of miners and ranchers followed almost immediately by cities and railroads. There was nothing gradual about it. As Carey McWilliams put it, for California "the lights went on all at once. Two years later, with a hundred thousand new residents and one of the busiest ports in the world, California had become the newest state in the United States--the only one west of Missouri.
That was just the beginning. This instant state also claimed a sophisticated economy based not just on mining but on a dynamic urban sector that ultimately provided the financial and commercial services to begin the development of the rest of the west. And it started off with political muscle too: within ten years Congress would be talking about building a transcontinental railroad. The key to all this was the state's instant population, the real fortune that California earned in the gold fever years. A quarter of a million newcomers poured into California between , all but obliterating the existing inhabitants.
The tiny Mexican population was numerically overwhelmed and quickly put at an economic and cultural disadvantage. Outnumbered twenty to one, unaccustomed to the laws, language, and business culture that now governed their lives, they struggled to hold onto the land and the way of life that were guaranteed them by treaty. Within a a generation both had been lost as courts, lawyers, bankers, squatters, drought, and recession forced the sale of most of the original ranchos, and as the usual manifestations of Yankee racism and religious prejudice undermined their cultural authority.
By the s, many of the "Californios," as the pre-conquest Mexicans called themselves, were eeking out a shabby life in the barrios of Southern California. Poor and forgotten, they had become strangers in their own land. California's remaining Indian populations fared much worse--indeed worse even than the usual horror that attended American westward expansion. With Congress forsaking all efforts to set up reservations, Indian policy fell to the new settlers, who opted for extermination. A twenty year campaign of slaughter abetted by the spread of disease became a veritable holocaust.
Some tribes were completely eliminated, leaving not a single survivor. Altogether in census takers could find only 17, Indians, just six percent of the area's estimated original population of , Thus began the American repopulation of California, a process that would steadily change the demographic mix over the years as California adopted new roles in the global political economy. Its first new population reflected its initial role as a place of high adventure, attracting an international assortment of the daring and enterprising, nearly all young males.
They came principally from places reached by the rapidly expanding North Atlantic commerce system and accessible to California by water. Ireland, England, Germany, and France supplied most of the rest, but the ports of the Pacific region also contributed: Valparaiso, Sydney, Canton, Honolulu. This population came to hunt gold but stayed to build California, especially the San Francisco Bay Area which stood ready to rechannel the acquisitive energies of the immigrants once the placers and mines began to play out.
By the Bay Area housed forty percent of the state's population and the city itself had more than a quarter million residents, including, finally, a substantial number of females. These first decades were California's "Boston" period, a time when the commercial and cultural commitments of New England imprinted decisively on the new state. With merchants, lawyers, and other New England entrepreneurs heavily represented in the gold rush generation, California was soon blessed with an elaborate business infrastructure and an impressive array of manufactures to supply the local market with everything from shoes to steamboats.
In , just six years after that first cry of "gold," a San Francisco firm was hard at work on California's first locomotive. The New England impress had even more to do with culture. In Americans and the California Dream Kevin Starr argues that the creation of a regional culture began with the Yankee preachers and literary lights who set out to civilize gold rush California. Here was born the state's intellectual infrastructure, the networks of churches and newspapers, then schools, colleges, publishers, and literary societies that gave the state its early cosmopolitan aura and flare for self promotion.
And here too was born California's transcendentalist engagement with divine nature, the key to later reinventions of the state's identity. Boston in the s was shared by Yankees and Irish, and so was San Francisco, which goes a long way to explain the turbulent pattern of California politics of the late nineteenth century. Working-class Catholic Irish and the WASP business class faced off repeatedly in these decades, at times with incendiary results.
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In a businessman's group calling itself the Committee of Vigilance seized power, hanged several suspected criminals and tried and deported a number of corrupt city officials, mostly Irish. Twenty-two years later the revolution came from the opposite quarter. Beaten down by the mids depression and inspired by the great railroad strike of , the city's Irish and laboring population joined Dennis Kearney's Workingman's party and in a climate of violent expectation elected a mayor and various other officials, initiating a long period during which San Francisco's working class would enjoy a measure of political influence unparalleled in any other major American city.
The overlapping tensions of class and religion were mediated by a third factor, race, that worked to the advantage of the white working class. The Chinese were, as Alexander Saxton put it, "the indispensible enemy. And the Chinese were only the first victims. Later migrations of Japanese, Filipinos, and East Indians would be curtailed by similar explosions of organized hatred. White ethnic and religious tensions were muted and immigrants like the Irish would find greater economic and social opportunities in San Francisco than in Boston in part because of the political dynamics of race hatred.
If in its first American generation California was a mining and urban frontier, its second incarnation was as a farming economy, an orientation that became practical after the completion of the first transcontinental railroad in The event marked the end of California's island status. Travel to eastern population centers now took days instead of weeks or months. More important, for the first time products could be moved overland. The vast ocean of plains, mountains, and deserts had finally been bridged. The railroad turned the state into a second Midwest, encouraging first the production of wheat, then with the spread of irrigation and the invention of refrigerated cars, a shift to fruits and vegetables.
While the state remained more urban than rural, by the fastest growing areas were the inland valleys where the Central Pacific and other promoters were steering immigrants, luring them with a campaign of cornucopic advertising conducted extensively in heartland states like Iowa and Illinois. Foreign immigration would continue but at a pace that would not match the other sources of population growth. Once forty percent of the population the foreign-born would account for less than twenty percent by Immigration in this period was almost entirely from Europe and Canada, and mostly from the same European regions that populated the Midwest: Germany, Britain, Ireland, and Scandinavia.
Meanwhile the role of non-Europeans was much reduced. Latin Americans and Asians had accounted for fifteen percent of the state's population in By they were less than seven percent and remained at about that level through s. Working mostly in agriculture or in the tiny service sectors that their isolated, much harrassed communities required, Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, Mexicans, and the even smaller population of African Americans held on precariously.
Like the Midwest, California's population was emphatically Euro-American. Midwesternization entered a second phase around the turn of the century with the invention of southern California. In the six counties of southern California claimed less than 50, residents, only six percent of the state's population. By there were 2. This new population magnet was built out of orange groves, oil, tourism, real estate and a huge dose of imagination.
Railroads again opened the way, pushing competing lines into Los Angeles in and , setting off an immediate fare war and putting both the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe into the southern California promotion business. Tourism was what they promoted. Southern California was the creation of a maturing industrial society with a growing middle class and new appetites for leisure. The gilded age wealthy had discovered Europe and the Grand Tour. Southern California, with its mediterranean climate became the middle-class alternative, especially for Midwesterners, a mere five days away by rail.
Sun and beaches, the area's natural endowments, were only part of the appeal. As Carey McWilliams and more recently Kevin Starr have pointed out, southern California was an exercise in fantasy, a barnumesque work of promotion and imagination focused initially on the theme of mediterraneanization. Italy, Greece, and especially Spain rose anew in turn-of-the-century Los Angeles. Using the new building material, stucco, developers laid out a revival cityscape of villas, chateaus, temples, and haciendas, creating not only fanciful hotels but entire theme communities, the most famous of them being Abbott Kinney's beach-side Venice, complete with canals, imported gondoliers, and stucco recreations of Renaissance buildings.
But Spain rather than Italy supplied the most compelling version of southern California's mediterranean idyll. In the region's heretofore denigrated Hispanic past, especially in the crumbling old Franciscan missions, southern California gained, says Starr, "the public myth which conferred romance upon a new American region.
Collaborating with the image makers was the one grounded industry that southern California could claim in its first period of growth. Orange growing became another exercise in mediterranean romance, a gentlemanly form of agriculture ideally suited to the fantasies of inhabitants of harsher climes, farmers and townsfolk alike. Later there would be a less glamorous blue-collar economy with oil producing most of the revenues, construction most of the jobs, and with a growing branch plant manufacturing sector. But southern California's image as a leisure frontier had been firmly set.