Home ° Fall-Winter 2015: Major Construction Underway

News from San Francisco: 1800s

August 18, 1850, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Ship Building in New York.

We take the annexed interesting and valuable statistics of the amount of work in course of completion in and about New York, from the Herald. It is complete, and such as will give a fair representation of the progress and the state of commerce on the Atlantic. It will be observed that the port of San Francisco is well represented on the stocks of the New York ship builders.

The well known firm of Howland &, already so deeply engaged in the California trade, have concluded to add two more steamships to their present fleet. They are to run in connection with the Tennessee, Panama, Oregon, &c., and will rank with the Empire City of J. Howard & Son's Line. One of them is to be 270 feet long, 38 beam, and 22 hold; the other of somewhat smaller dimensions. We understand that Mr. Wm. Webb and Messrs. Smith & Dimon are the contractors, who contemplate having them ready in about nine months. There have also been several splendid packet ships built, and in course of building, each addition producing something new and novel in their construction, their tonnage, varying from 1000 to 1300; indeed, the building this year has been almost entirely contained to large vessels.

W.H. Webb's Yard.
February 2. Packet ship Isaac Webb, 1,400 tons. Built for the Black Ball Line.
February 28. Ship Vanguard, 1,200 tons. In the Liverpool Line.
April 11. Steamship Florida, Lyons, built for the New York and Savannah Steam Navigation Co. She is 1,300 tons.
June 10. Steamship Alabama, Ludlow, built for the same line - same size and power.
June 10. Ship Celestial, 860 tons, for the Canton trade. (On her way to California.)
On the Stocks
Steamship Union, to take the place of the Northerner. Her tonnage will be 1,500 tons; 212 feet long, 34 beam, 22 deep.
A packet ship, to be commanded by Captain Hoxie, late of the Grimshaw. Measures 1,600 tons.

W.H. Brown's Yard
January 18. Steamer Arctic, 3,500 tons of E.K. Collin's Line. She is nearly finished, and will shortly take her place in the line.
Same day. Steamer Boston, 700 tons. She runs from Boston to Bangor.
Same day. Steamer New World, Wakeman. 700 tons. (Now in San Francisco.)
May 25. Steamer New York, Jones, of the same tonnage and measurement as the New World, and on her way to California.
On the Stocks:
A steamer, building for Messrs. Lowry & Jarvis, and intended for the California trade. She is 1,100 tons, measures 225 feet long, 20 beams, and 190 hold. It is expected she will be ready next month.

Westervelt & Mackay's Yard
March 26. Ship Ocean Queen, London packet, 1200 tons.
April 13. Ship Francis P. Sage, Liverpool packet. 1200 tons.
On the Stocks
A ship of 1200 tons, as a Havre packet.
A ship, Havre packet, 1150 tons.
Steamship Havre, 2,700 tons, 283 feet long, 40 wide, and 27 deep. Her engines are of the same power as the Atlantic. She is to run to Havre in connection with the steamship Franklin, and will be launched about the latter end of August.
A steamship for Davis, Brooks & Co., for the Pacific, and to be under command of Capt. Skiddy. She is about 1300 tons, 200 feet long, 30 wide, and 22 deep. She will be launched about September.

Lawrence & Sneden's Yard
On the Stocks
A steamship constructing for the Norwich and New London Steamboat Company. She is 260 feet long, 34 broad, and 21 deep, and 1600 tons burthen, and intended for the Pacific, to be employed in the California trade.

Jacob Bell's Yard
February 5. Steamship Baltic, one of E.K. Collins' line of Liverpool steamers. She is in build and model the same as her consorts, measuring 3700 tons.
Same day. Ship St. Louis, New Orleans line. She is 1050 tons.

On the Stocks
A ship for the Canton trade, constructing for Platt & Son of Philadelphia. Is 1200 tons, 190 feet on deck, 36 feet wide, and 21 feet hold.
A ship of 1900 tons, intended for Liverpool packets.

Smith & Dimon's Yard
March 20. Ship Universe (3 decker), is now in Liverpool line. Is 1300 tons.
June 15. Ship Mandarin, owend by Messrs. Goodhue & Co., and intended for the Canton trade.

W. Collyer's Yard
On the Stocks
A double-decker steamship, of about 1200 tons, 242 feet long, 32 feet wide, and 12-1/2 (might be 42-1/2) hold for C. Morgan, and intended to run from New Orleans to Galveston, probably farther, as a mail ship.
A steamship, of 1400 tons, to be commanded by Captain J. J. Wright, of New Orleans, and to run from that city to Chagres.

J. Simonson's Yard

June 11. Steamer Director, for the Nicaragua company, and to run on the San Juan. She is 65 tons, 80 feet long, and 20 wide, and 4-1/2 feet deep.

On the Stocks
A steamship of 1500 tons, 230 feet long, 33 beam, and 20 hold, building for Captain Vanderbilt. Will be ready to launch soon. Destination not made known.
A small steamer of 100 tons, for the Nicaragua company, also to run on the San Juan. She measures 100 tons, is 110 feet long, 20 beam, and 5 hold, and of very light draught.

Perrine, Patterson, and Stack's Yard
Ship Star of the West, Lowber, 1280 tons, and trades between Liverpool and this port.

On the Stocks

Steamship San Francisco, of 1800 tons, 255 feet long, 40 wide, and 31 deep. She is to be commanded by Capt. Wilson, and intended to run between Panama and the city she is named after. She is expected to be ready in about four months. Her machinery is being constructed at the Morgan works.

Ship Lady Franklin, of 1429 tons. This vessel is named after the lady of the great explorer of the Northern seas, and will have carved on her stern (which is round) the arms of Sir John Franklin, which is a most chaste and appropriate design, consisting of a dolphin entwined round an anchor. She is to be commanded by Captain Yeaton, and will be launched the first part of the present month.

Ship Arctic, of 1300 tons, for Liverpool Line.

A propeller for the Panama and San Francisco trade. She will be about 1500 tons, be 210 feet long, 33 beam, and 31 hold. She is building for Nathan Dale, and will be ready in about four months.

The Annals of San FranciscoThe Annals of San Francico 1855.
Frank Soule, John H. Gihon, Jim Nisbet. 1855
Written by three journalists who were witnesses to and participants in the extraordinary events they describe. The Annals of San Francisco is both an essential record for historians and a fascinating narrative for general readers. Over 100 historical engravings are included. Partial Contents: Expeditions of Viscaino; Conduct of the Fathers towards the natives; Pious Fund of California; Colonel John C. Fremont; Insurrection of the Californians; Description of the Golden Gate; The Presidio of San Francisco; Removal of the Hudson's Bay Company; Resolutions concerning gambling; General Effects of the Gold Discoveries; Third Great Fire; Immigration diminished; The Chinese in California; Clipper Ships; Increase of population; and Commercial depression.

San Francisco, You're History!
Politicians, Proselytizers, Paramours, and Performers Who Helped Create California's Wildest City
Politicians, Proselytizers, Paramours, Performers.
California Performers.
J. Kingston Pierce
Seattle-based freelance writer Pierce presents a fascinating view of a variety of colorful people and events that have molded the unique environment of San Francisco. He chronicles historical highlights along with a focus on current issues. Pierce touches on the gold rush, earthquakes, and fires and introduces the lives of politicians, millionaires, criminals, and eccentrics. Pierce sparks the imagination in relating the stories of yesterday to today.

When America First Met China:
An Exotic History of Tea, Drugs, and Money in the Age of Sail
When America First Met China.

Eric Jay Dolin
Ancient China collides with America in this epic tale of opium smugglers, sea pirates, and dueling clipper ships. Brilliantly illuminating one of the least-understood areas of American history, best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin traces our relationship with China back to its roots: the nineteenth-century seas that separated a brash, rising naval power from a ancient empire. It is a fable for our time, one that surprisingly continues to shed light on our modern relationship with China. The furious trade in furs, opium, and bêche-de-mer -- a rare sea cucumber delicacy -- might have catalyzed America's emerging economy, but it also sparked an ecological and human rights catastrophe. Peopled with fascinating characters--from Robert Morris: Financier of the American RevolutionRobert Morris, Financier of the American Revolution. to the The Glorious Reign of Emperor Qianlong: Splendors of China's Forbidden City, who considered foreigners inferior beings -- this saga of pirates and politicians, coolies and concubines becomes a must-read for any fan of Nathaniel Philbrick's MayflowerMayflower. or Mark Kurlansky's Cod.Cod, the fish that changd the world. Two maps, 16 pages of color, 83 black-and-white illustrations.

Latin America, World Journeys, Discovery.The Age of Sail.Commodore Levy:
A Novel of Early America in the Age of Sail

(Modern Jewish History)

Irving Litvag
By all accounts, Uriah Phillips Levy, the first Jewish commodore in the U.S. Navy, was both a principled and pugnacious man. On his way to becoming a flag officer, he was subjected to six courts-martial and engaged in a duel, all in response to antisemitic taunts and harassment from his fellow officers. Yet he never lost his love of country or desire to serve in its navy. When the navy tried to boot him out, he took his case to the highest court and won. This richly detailed historical novel closely follows the actual events of Levy’s life: running away from his Philadelphia home to serve as a cabin boy at age ten; his service during the War of 1812 aboard the Argus and internment at the notorious British prison at Dartmoor;  his campaign for the abolition of flogging in the Navy; and his purchase and restoration of Monticello as a tribute to his personal hero, Thomas Jefferson. Set against a broad panorama of U.S. history, Commodore Levy describes the American Jewish community from 1790 to 1860, the beginnings of the U.S. Navy, and the great nautical traditions of the Age of Sail before its surrender to the age of steam.

The Project

Maritime Nations, Sea Captains, Ships, Merchants, Merchandise, Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Migration and Disruption.
Migration and Disruptions

Brenda J. Baker


Kindly Contribute to help us provide information for you.


DALevy @

77 Solano Square
Suite 337
Benicia, California
94510 U.S.A.


Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; Maritime Library, San Francisco, California.

Please inform us if you link from your site. Please do NOT link from your site unless your site specifically relates to immigration in the 1800s, family history, maritime history, international seaports, and/or California history.