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California Historical Landmarks in San Francisco

California Historical Landmark 81
Landing Place of Captain J. B. Montgomery
Montgomery Street At Clay Street
July 9, 1846

California Landmark 81: Landing Place of Captain J. B. Montgomery in San Francisco
26 June 2010
(Click Photo to Zoom)

On July 9, 1846, in the early morning in "the days when the water came up to Montgomery Street," Commander John B. Montgomery - for whom Montgomery Street was named - landed near this spot from the U-S-Sloop-Of-War "Portsmouth" to raise the stars and stripes on the plaza, now Portsmouth Square, one block to the west.

Tablet placed by the Native Sons of the Golden West.
1915

California Landmark 81: Landing Place of Captain J. B. Montgomery in San Francisco
25 August 2007
(Click Photo to Zoom)

The commemorative plaque is set in the cornerstone of A. P. Giannini's Bank of Italy building on the southeast corner of Montgomery and Clay Streets. The Transamerica Pyramid stands on the northeast corner of the intersection.

Seventy years after the American Revolution, Yerba Buena was a remote Mexican pueblo of about 450 souls. This changed on July 9, 1846, when the United States warship Portsmouth anchored in Yerba Buena Cove, and Capt. John B. Montgomery rowed ashore with a small detachment of sailors and marines to raise the American flag in the plaza.

Capt Montgomery appointed his Spanish-speaking lieutenant, Washington Bartlett, as the first American alcalde of Yerba Buena. The alcalde renamed the pueblo San Francisco in a ordinance dated January 30, 1847:

AN ORDINANCE

Whereas, the local name of Yerba Buena, as applied to the settlement or town of San Francisco, is unknown beyond the district; and has been applied from the local name of the cove, on which the town is built; Therefore, to prevent confusion and mistakes in public documents, and that the town may have the advantage of the name given on the public map, IT IS HEREBY ORDAINED, that the name of SAN FRANCISCO shall hereafter be used in all official communications and public documents, or records appertaining to the town.

Wash'n A. Bartlett
Chief Magistrate

California Landmark 81: Landing Place of Captain J. B. Montgomery in San Francisco
Landing of the USS Portsmouth in 1846
(Click Image to Zoom)

The 1933 drawing by Parker Hall shows boats rowing toward today's Montgomery Street between Washington Street and Clay Street. The Plaza, named Portsmouth Square after the warship, became the hub of Gold Rush California. Nurtured by gold, little Montgomery Street rapidly matured into the Wall Street of the West.

California Landmark 81: Landing Place of Captain J. B. Montgomery in San Francisco
Hand-Colored Lithograph Published in 1849 by Snow & Company
(Click Image to Zoom)

The American flag is flying in Portsmouth Plaza just above the place where Capt. Montgomery landed.

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