Yerba Buena, California

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San Francisco in 1848, not long after being renamed from Yerba Buena, looking to the north-east over Yerba Buena Cove toward Yerba Buena Island. CF1850 SAN FRANCISCO IN NOVEMBER 1848.jpg
San Francisco in 1848, not long after being renamed from Yerba Buena, looking to the north-east over Yerba Buena Cove toward Yerba Buena Island.

Yerba Buena was the original name of the settlement that later became San Francisco, California. Located near the northeastern end of the San Francisco Peninsula, between the Presidio of San Francisco and the Mission San Francisco de Asís, it was originally intended as a trading post for ships visiting San Francisco Bay. The settlement was arranged in the Spanish style around a plaza that remains as the present day Portsmouth Square.

San Francisco Consolidated city-county in California, US

San Francisco, officially City and County of San Francisco and colloquially known as SF, San Fran, or "The City", is the cultural, commercial, and financial center of Northern California. San Francisco is the 13th most populous city in the United States, and the fourth most populous in California, with 883,305 residents as of 2018. It covers an area of about 46.89 square miles (121.4 km2), mostly at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, making it the second most densely populated large U.S. city, and the fifth most densely populated U.S. county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. San Francisco is the 12th-largest metropolitan statistical area in the United States, with 4,729,484 people in 2018. With San Jose, it forms the fifth most populous combined statistical area in the United States, the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area.

California U.S. state in the United States

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents across a total area of about 163,696 square miles (423,970 km2), California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

San Francisco Peninsula peninsula in California, United States of America

The San Francisco Peninsula is a peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area that separates San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. On its northern tip is the City and County of San Francisco. Its southern base is in northern Santa Clara County, including the cities of Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Los Altos. Most of the Peninsula is occupied by San Mateo County, between San Francisco and Santa Clara counties, and including the cities and towns of Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, Colma, Daly City, East Palo Alto, El Granada, Foster City, Hillsborough, Half Moon Bay, La Honda, Loma Mar, Los Altos, Menlo Park, Millbrae, Mountain View, Pacifica, Palo Alto, Pescadero, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Mateo, South San Francisco, Sunnyvale, and Woodside.



The name of the town was taken from the yerba buena (Clinopodium douglasii) plant, a native herb of the West Coast of North America and abundant in the region surrounding San Francisco Bay. Franciscan missionary Pedro Font, accompanying the Juan Bautista de Anza expedition of 1775–76, applied the Spanish name to the common native herb he found abundant in the landscape. [1] The plant's common name, yerba buena, the same in English and Spanish, is an alternate form of the Spanish hierba buena (meaning "good herb").

<i>Clinopodium douglasii</i> species of plant

Clinopodium douglasii, or yerba buena, is a rambling aromatic herb of western and northwestern North America, ranging from maritime Alaska southwards to California. The plant takes the form of a sprawling, mat-forming perennial, and is especially abundant close to the coast. The name "yerba buena" derives from Spanish for "good herb" and is applied to various other plants. Molecular evidence places the species within the Clinopodium complex rather than Micromeria.

Juan Bautista de Anza Basque explorer and governor

Juan Bautista de Anza was born in the Spanish province of New Navarre in Viceroyalty of New Spain. Of Basque descent, he served as an expeditionary leader, military officer, and politician primarily in California and New Mexico under the Spanish Empire. He is credited as one of the founding fathers of Spanish California and served as an official within New Spain as Governor of the Province of New Mexico.

Native plant Plant indigenous to a given area in geologic time

Native plants are plants indigenous to a given area in geologic time. This includes plants that have developed, occur naturally, or existed for many years in an area.

The earliest report of the use of Yerba Buena as a place name comes from the log of George Vancouver, who in 1792 sailed his ship HMS Discovery into San Francisco Bay and anchored "about a league below the Presidio in a place they called Yerba Buena". [2]

George Vancouver 18th-century English naval explorer

Captain George Vancouver was a British officer of the Royal Navy best known for his 1791–95 expedition, which explored and charted North America's northwestern Pacific Coast regions, including the coasts of what are now the American states of Alaska, Washington, and Oregon, as well as the province of British Columbia in Canada. He also explored the Hawaiian Islands and the southwest coast of Australia.

HMS <i>Discovery</i> (1789) ship

HMS Discovery was a Royal Navy ship launched in 1789 and best known as the lead ship in George Vancouver's exploration of the west coast of North America in his famous 1791-1795 expedition. She was converted to a bomb vessel in 1798 and participated in the Battle of Copenhagen. Thereafter she served as a hospital ship and later as a convict ship until 1831. She was broken up in 1834.

San Francisco Bay bay on the California coast of the United States

San Francisco Bay is a shallow estuary in the US state of California. It is surrounded by a contiguous region known as the San Francisco Bay Area, and is dominated by the large cities of San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland.


Presidio of San Francisco in Alta California, in 1817. Choris, Presidio.jpg
Presidio of San Francisco in Alta California, in 1817.

18th century

The Spanish Portolá expedition, led by Don Gaspar de Portolá arrived overland from Mexico on November 2, 1769. It was the first documented European visit by land to the San Francisco Bay Area, claiming it for Spain as part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.

Portolá expedition exploration of the present-day state of California, United States, 1769–1770

The Portolá expedition was a Spanish voyage of exploration in 1769–1770 that was the first recorded European land entry and exploration of the interior of the present-day U.S. state of California. It was led by Gaspar de Portolá, governor of Las Californias, the Spanish colonial province that included California, Baja California, and other parts of present-day Mexico and the United States. The expedition led to the founding of Alta California and contributed to the solidification of Spanish territorial claims in the disputed and unexplored regions along the Pacific coast of North America.

Gaspar de Portolá explorer and soldier in New Spain

Gaspar de Portolà i Rovira, more commonly known simply as Gaspar de Portolà, (1716–1786) was a Catalan soldier and administrator in the Viceroyalty of New Spain. As commander of the Portolá expedition on land and sea that established San Diego and Monterey, Portolá expanded New Spain's Las Californias province far to the north from its beginnings on the Baja California peninsula. Portolá's expedition also was the first known European to see and record what we now call San Francisco Bay. His expedition gave names to geographic features along the way, many of which are still in use.

San Francisco Bay Area Conurbation in California, United States

The San Francisco Bay Area is a populous region surrounding the San Francisco, San Pablo, and Suisun Bay estuaries in the northern part of the U.S. state of California. Although the exact boundaries of the region vary depending on the source, the Bay Area is defined by the Association of Bay Area Governments to include the nine counties that border the aforementioned estuaries: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, and San Francisco. Other sources may exclude parts of or even entire counties, or expand the definition to include neighboring counties that don't border the bay such as San Benito, San Joaquin, and Santa Cruz.

A second group of soldiers, this time accompanied by settlers, arrived in June 1776, led by the Spanish explorer Juan Bautista De Anza. One of De Anza's officers, José Joaquín Moraga, was given the task of building a Spanish mission, Mission San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores) and a military fort, the Presidio of San Francisco. [3] Moraga chose a location approximately halfway between the two sites to build housing for the workers, which became known as Yerba Buena. A supply ship arrived about two months later and the settlers began building. [3]

José Joaquín de la Santísima Trinidad Moraga, usually simply known as José Joaquín Moraga, was a Spanish colonial expeditionary and soldier who founded San Jose, California, in 1777.

Mission San Francisco de Asís mission in San Francisco

Mission San Francisco de Asís, or Mission Dolores, is the oldest surviving structure in San Francisco and the sixth religious settlement established as part of the California chain of missions. The Mission was founded on October 9, 1776, by Lieutenant José Joaquin Moraga and Francisco Palóu, both members of the de Anza Expedition, which had been charged with bringing Spanish settlers to Alta (upper) California and with evangelizing the local Natives, the Ohlone. Some of the Mission's buildings have been turned into businesses, including a print shop and several saloons.

Presidio of San Francisco Neighborhood in San Francisco, California, United States

The Presidio of San Francisco is a park and former U.S. Army military fort on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula in San Francisco, California, and is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

19th century

In 1804 Las Californias province was split into Alta California province (upper) and Baja California province (lower), both still within the Spanish Viceroyalty of New Spain.

Alta California province of New Spain

Alta California, known sometimes unofficially as Nueva California, California Septentrional, California del Norte or California Superior, began in 1804 as a province of New Spain. Along with the Baja California peninsula, it had previously comprised the province of Las Californias, but was split off into a separate province in 1804. Following the Mexican War of Independence, it became a territory of Mexico in April 1822 and was renamed "Alta California" in 1824. The claimed territory included all of the modern US states of California, Nevada and Utah, and parts of Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. In the 1836 Siete Leyes government reorganization, the two Californias were once again combined - into a single departamento. That change was undone in 1846, but rendered moot by U.S. military occupation of California in the Mexican-American War.

Baja California Peninsula peninsula of North America on the Pacific Coast of Mexico

The Baja California Peninsula is a peninsula in Northwestern Mexico. It separates the Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of California. The peninsula extends 1,247 km from Mexicali, Baja California in the north to Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur in the south. It ranges from 40 km at its narrowest to 320 km at its widest point and has approximately 3,000 km of coastline and approximately 65 islands. The total area of the Baja California Peninsula is 143,390 km2 (55,360 sq mi), roughly the same area as the country of Nepal.

Upon independence from Spain in 1821, the territory of Alta California became part of Mexico, but the faraway Mexican government paid little attention to Yerba Buena. Over the years the area between the port facilities at Yerba Buena Cove and the housing area of Yerba Buena filled in. The old plaza is today's Portsmouth Square. [4] [5]

In 1835, Englishman William A. Richardson erected a homestead near the boat anchorage of Yerba Buena Cove. [2] Together with Alcalde Francisco de Haro, he laid out a street plan for the expanded settlement, which retained the name Yerba Buena.

In early 1841 James Douglas of the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC), operating on the Pacific coast from Fort Vancouver, went to Yerba Buena to establish an HBC trading post. A large building on the water's edge was purchased. The HBC post had several purposes. It operated as a wholesale store, selling goods exported from Fort Vancouver such as salmon, lumber, and British manufactures in exchange for hides and tallow. The post improved diplomatic relations between the British HBC and the Mexican government of California, making the HBC's fur trapping expeditions into California's Central Valley politically acceptable. Despite the mercantile potential of the HBC store in Yerba Buena, in 1842 it was ordered to be closed by George Simpson as part of Simpson's general reorganization of the HBC's Columbia District. The HBC store in Yerba Buena was sold in 1846, two years before the California Gold Rush transformed Yerba Buena into the major city on the North American west coast. [6]

On July 7, 1846, US Navy Commodore John D. Sloat, in the Battle of Yerba Buena, claimed Alta California for the United States during the Mexican–American War, and US Navy Captain John Berrien Montgomery and US Marine Second Lieutenant Henry Bulls Watson of the USS Portsmouth arrived to claim Yerba Buena two days later by raising the American flag over the town plaza, which is now Portsmouth Square in honor of the ship. [2] Henry Bulls Watson was placed in command of the garrison there. On July 31, 1846, Yerba Buena doubled in population when about 240 Mormon migrants from the East coast arrived on the ship Brooklyn , led by Sam Brannan. In August 1846, Lt. Washington Allon Bartlett was named alcalde of Yerba Buena. [7] On January 30, 1847, Lt. Bartlett's proclamation changing the name Yerba Buena to San Francisco took effect. [8] The city and the rest of Alta California officially became a United States military territory in 1848 by the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican–American War. California was admitted for statehood to the United States on September 9, 1850. The State soon chartered San Francisco as both a City and a County.

See also

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Yerba Buena Gardens is the name for two blocks of public parks located between Third and Fourth, Mission and Folsom Streets in downtown San Francisco, California. The first block bordered by Mission and Howard Streets was opened on October 11, 1993. The second block, between Howard and Folsom Streets, was opened in 1998, with a dedication to Martin Luther King, Jr. by Mayor Willie Brown. A pedestrian bridge over Howard Street connects the two blocks, sitting on top of part of the Moscone Center convention center. The Yerba Buena Gardens are owned by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency and were planned and built as the final centerpiece of the Yerba Buena Redevelopment Area which includes the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

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William A. Richardson California pioneer, city founder

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Yerba Buena Cove

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  1. Bolton, Herbert E. (1930). Anza's California Expeditions, Volume IV. Internet Archive. p. 333. Retrieved May 2014.Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  2. 1 2 3 Hoover, Mildred Brooke; Douglas E. Kyle (2002). Historic Spots in California. Stanford University Press. pp. 353–355. ISBN   978-0-8047-4482-9.
  3. 1 2 White, Tekla (2007). San Francisco Bay Area Missions. Lerner Publications. pp. 16–17. ISBN   978-0-8225-0900-4.
  4. "San Francisco – From the 1820s to the Gold Rush". The Virtual Museum of the City. Retrieved October 27, 2009.
  5. U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Yerba Buena Cove (historical)
  6. Mackie, Richard Somerset (1997). Trading Beyond the Mountains: The British Fur Trade on the Pacific 1793–1843. Vancouver: University of British Columbia (UBC) Press. pp. 176–180. ISBN   0-7748-0613-3.
  7. "First Municipal Elections Held in San Francisco". The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco. Retrieved October 27, 2009.
  8. "Yerba Buena Renamed San Francisco". The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco. Retrieved October 27, 2009.

Coordinates: 37°47′35″N122°23′47″W / 37.79306°N 122.39639°W / 37.79306; -122.39639