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|Died||October 1, 1876 80) (aged|
James Lick (August 25, 1796 – October 1, 1876) was an American real estate investor, carpenter, piano builder, land baron, and patron of the sciences. At the time of his death, he was the wealthiest man in California, and left the majority of his estate to social and scientific causes.
James Lick was born in Stumpstown (now Fredericksburg) Pennsylvania on August 25, 1796. Lick's grandfather, William Lick, served during the American Revolutionary War under General George Washington and his son, John Lick, during the American Civil War. The son of a carpenter, Lick began learning the craft at an early age. When he was twenty-one, after a failed romance with Barbara Snavely, Lick left Stumpstown for Baltimore, Maryland, where he learned the art of piano making. He quickly mastered the skill, and moved to New York City and set up his own shop. In 1821 Lick moved to Argentina, after learning that his pianos were being exported to South America.
Lick found his time in Buenos Aires to be difficult, due to his ignorance of Spanish and the turbulent political situation in the country. However, his business thrived and in 1825 Lick left Argentina to tour Europe for a year. On his return trip, his ship was captured by the Portuguese, and the passengers and crew were taken to Montevideo as prisoners of war. Lick escaped captivity and returned to Buenos Aires on foot.
In 1832, Lick decided to return to Stumpstown. He failed to reunite with Barbara Snavely and their son and returned to Buenos Aires. He decided the political situation was too unstable and moved to Valparaíso, Chile. After four years, he again moved his business, this time to Lima, Peru.
In 1846, Lick decided to return to North America and, anticipating the Mexican–American War and the future annexation of California, he decided to settle there. However, a backlog of orders for his pianos delayed him an additional 18 months, as the Mexican workers he employed left to return to their homes and join the Mexican Army following the outbreak of war in April of that year. He finished the orders himself.
Lick arrived in San Francisco, California, in January 1848, bringing with him his tools, work bench, $30,000 in gold (valued at approximately $2.75 million as of 2020), and 600 pounds (275 kilograms) of chocolate. The chocolate quickly sold. So, Lick sent back word convincing his friend and neighbor in Peru, the confectioner Domingo Ghirardelli, to move to San Francisco, where he founded the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company.
Upon his arrival, Lick began buying real estate in the small village of San Francisco. The discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill near Sacramento a few days after Lick's arrival in the future state began the California Gold Rush and created a housing boom in San Francisco, which grew from about one thousand residents in 1848 to over twenty thousand by 1850. Lick himself got a touch of "gold fever" and went out to mine the metal, but after a week he decided his fortune was to be made by owning land, not digging in it. Lick continued buying land in San Francisco, and also began buying farmland in and around San Jose, where he planted orchards and built the largest flour mill in the state to feed the growing population in San Francisco.
In 1861, Lick began construction of a hotel, which became known as Lick House, at the intersection of Montgomery and Sutter Streets in San Francisco. The hotel had a dining room that could seat 400, based on a similar room at the palace of Versailles. Lick House was considered the finest hotel west of the Mississippi River. The hotel was destroyed in the fire following the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.
Following the construction, Lick returned to his San Jose orchards. In 1874, Lick suffered a massive stroke in the kitchen of his home in Santa Clara. The following morning, he was found by his employee, Thomas Fraser, and taken to Lick House, where he could be better cared for. At the time of his illness, his estates, outside his considerable area in Santa Clara County and San Francisco, included large holdings around Lake Tahoe, a large ranch in Los Angeles County, and all of Santa Catalina Island,making Lick the richest man in California.
In the next three years, Lick spent his time determining how to dispense with his fortune. He originally wanted to build giant statues of himself and his parents, and erect a pyramid larger than the Great Pyramid of Giza in his own honor in downtown San Francisco. However, through the efforts of George Davidson, president of the California Academy of Sciences, Lick was persuaded to leave the greatest portion of his fortune to the establishment of a mountaintop observatory, with the largest, most powerful telescope yet built by man.
In 1874 he placed $3,000,000 ($65,200,000 relative value in 2017) at the disposal of seven trustees, by whom the funds were to be applied to specific uses. He replaced the board in 1875 with Faxon Atherton, John Nightingale, Bernard D. Murphy and his son, John H. Lick.
The principal divisions of the funds were:
Lick had had an interest in astronomy since at least 1860, when he and George Madeira, the founder of the first observatory in California, spent several nights observing. They had also met again in 1873 and Lick said that Madeira's telescopes were the only ones he had ever used. In 1875, Thomas Fraser recommended a site at the summit of Mount Hamilton, near San Jose. Lick approved, on the condition that Santa Clara County build a "first-class" road to the site. The county agreed and the hand-built road was completed by the fall of 1876.
On October 1, 1876, Lick died in his room in Lick House, San Francisco. In 1887, his body was moved to its final resting place, under the future home of the Great Lick Refracting Telescope.
The Lick Observatory is an astronomical observatory owned and operated by the University of California. It is on the summit of Mount Hamilton, in the Diablo Range just east of San Jose, California, United States. The observatory is managed by the University of California Observatories, with headquarters on the University of California, Santa Cruz campus, where its scientific staff moved in the mid-1960s. It is named after James Lick.
The Santa Clara Valley runs south-southeast from the southern end of San Francisco Bay in Northern California in the United States. The northern, urbanized end of the valley is part of a region locally known as the "South Bay" and also part of the electronics, research, and technology area known as Silicon Valley. Santa Clara Valley consists of most of Santa Clara County, including its county seat, San Jose, as well as a small portion of San Benito County. The valley, named after the Spanish Mission Santa Clara, was for a time known as the Valley of Heart's Delight for its high concentration of orchards, flowering trees, and plants. Until the 1960s it was the largest fruit-producing and packing region in the world, with 39 canneries.
Domenico "Domingo" Ghirardelli was an Italian-born chocolatier who was the founder of the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company in San Francisco, California.
The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company is an American confectioner, wholly owned by Swiss confectioner Lindt & Sprüngli. The company was founded by and is named after Italian chocolatier Domenico Ghirardelli, who, after working in South America, moved to California. The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company was incorporated in 1852, and is the third-oldest chocolate company in the United States, after Baker's Chocolate and Whitman's.
The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) is an American scientific and educational organization, founded in San Francisco on February 7, 1889. Its name derives from its origins on the Pacific Coast, but today it has members all over the country and the world. It has the legal status of a nonprofit organization.
Mount Hamilton is a mountain in the Diablo Range in Santa Clara County, California. The mountain's peak, at 4,265 feet (1,300 m), overlooks the heavily urbanized Santa Clara Valley and is the site of Lick Observatory, the world's first permanently occupied mountain-top observatory. The asteroid 452 Hamiltonia, discovered in 1899, is named after the mountain. Golden eagle nesting sites are found on the slopes of Mount Hamilton. On clear days, Mount Tamalpais, the Santa Cruz Mountains, Monterey Bay, the Monterey Peninsula, and even Yosemite National Park are visible from the summit of the mountain.
State Route 130 is a state highway in the U.S. state of California that runs from U.S. Route 101 in San Jose to Mount Hamilton. Much of its length goes through the Diablo Range as Mount Hamilton Road, where it is a narrow two-lane highway. The remainder of SR 130 is numbered along Alum Rock Avenue in San Jose.
George David Madeira was a mining engineer and mineralogist who founded the first astronomical observatory in California in the town of Volcano.
The James Lick Telescope is a refracting telescope built in 1888. It has a lens 36 inches (91 cm) in diameter- a major achievement in its day. The instrument remains in operation and public viewing is allowed on a limited basis. Also called the "Great Lick Refractor" or simply "Lick Refractor", it was the largest refracting telescope in the world until 1897 and now ranks third, after the 40-inch refractor at the Yerkes Observatory and the Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope. The telescope is located at the University of California's Lick Observatory atop Mount Hamilton at an elevation of 4,209 feet (1,283 m) above sea level. The instrument is housed inside a dome that is powered by hydraulic systems that raise and lower the floor, rotate the dome and drive the clock mechanism to track the Earth's rotation. The original hydraulic arrangement still operates today, with the exception that the original wind-powered pumps that once filled the reservoirs have been replaced with electric pumps. James Lick is entombed below the floor of the observing room of the telescope.
The C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.05-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory in San Jose, California. It was named after astronomer C. Donald Shane in 1978, who led the effort to acquire the necessary funds from the California Legislature, and who then oversaw the telescope's construction. It is the largest and most powerful telescope at the Lick Observatory, and was the second-largest optical telescope in the world when it was commissioned in 1959.
The Anna L. Nickel telescope is a 1-meter reflecting telescope located at Lick Observatory in the U.S. state of California.
The Automated Planet Finder Telescope (APF) a.k.a. Rocky Planet Finder, is a fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA. It is designed to search for extrasolar planets in the range of five to twenty times the mass of the Earth. The instrument will examine about 10 stars per night. Over the span of a decade, the telescope is expected to study 1,000 nearby stars for planets. Its estimated cost was $10 million. The total cost-to-completion of the APF project was $12.37 million. First light was originally scheduled for 2006, but delays in the construction of the major components of the telescope pushed this back to August 2013. It was commissioned in August 2013.
Elias Jackson "Lucky" Baldwin was "one of the greatest pioneers" of California business, an investor, and real estate speculator during the second half of the 19th century. He earned the nickname "Lucky" Baldwin due to his extraordinary good fortune in a number of business deals. He built the luxury Baldwin Hotel and Theatre in San Francisco and bought vast tracts of land in Southern California, where a number of places and neighborhoods are named after him.
The Crossley telescope is a 36-inch (910 mm) reflecting telescope located at Lick Observatory in the U.S. state of California. It was used between 1895 to 2010, and was donated to the observatory by Edward Crossley, its namesake.
Santa Clara County, California, is one of California's original counties, with prior habitation dating from prehistory to the Alta California period.
Rancho Ulistac was a 2,217-acre (8.97 km2) Mexican land grant in present-day Santa Clara County, California, given in 1845 by Governor Pío Pico to Marcello and Cristobal, Indians. The grant extended across lowlands reaching from the Alviso shoreline southward and encompassing the land between the Guadalupe River and Saratoga Creek, and the town of Agnew.
The Pioneer Monument is a granite monument supporting bronze figures and reliefs created by Frank Happersberger and financed by the estate of James Lick. It is located on Fulton Street between Hyde and Larkin Streets in the Civic Center, of San Francisco, California. It was dedicated on November 29, 1894.
Chon Fernando Gallegos is a former American football quarterback who played one season with the Oakland Raiders of the American Football League. Gallegos first enrolled at San Jose City College before transferring to San Jose State University. He attended James Lick High School in San Jose, California.
The SCU Lightning Complex fires were wildfires that burned in the Diablo Range in California in August and September 2020. The fire complex consisted of fires in Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, Merced, and Stanislaus counties. The name is derived from the three-letter designation given to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection division responsible for the Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, and parts of San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties, and the complex consisted of several distinct fires occurring in this region.
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