A major earthquake—later estimated to be between 7.7 and 7.9 on the Richter scale—struck San Francisco at 5:12 a.m. The devastation grew as broken gas lines caused widespread fires and much of the city was destroyed. As many as 3,000 people were killed, and more than half of the survivors found themselves homeless.
On November 29, 1969, a group of American Indians sailed to Alcatraz, the island in San Francisco Bay that formerly housed a federal prison. Led by Russell Means, they intended to occupy Alcatraz to protest the government’s treatment of Native peoples. The protestors demanded the return of the island to American Indians. They also sought funding for its development and maintenance. The government refused and, after nineteen months, removed the protestors from the island on June 11, 1971.
Born in San Francisco, Mamie Tape was the daughter of two Chinese immigrants who tried to enroll eight-year-old Mamie in San Francisco’s public Spring Valley School in 1884. When Mamie was turned away from the school, her parents sued the city for violating an 1880 law that guaranteed “all children . . . residing in the district” admission to public schools. A Superior Court judge ruled that “To deny a child, born of Chinese parents in this State, entrance to the public schools would be a violation of the law of the State and the...
Located in San Francisco Bay and called the “Ellis Island of the West,” Angel Island was a check point and detention center for immigrants in the early twentieth century. Asian and European immigrants were processed at the Angel Island Immigration Station between 1910 and 1940, and an estimated 300,000 were detained there. The detainees were primarily Chinese, and while some were eventually permitted to enter the United States, many more were deported.