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Golden Gate

   The Golden Gate

The Golden Gate is the strait or waterway between the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula and the south end of the Marin Peninsula, also known as the Marin Headlands. The strait connects the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay.
The first recorded observation of the strait occurred in 1769. Sergeant José Francisco Ortega, the leader of a Spanish scouting party sent north along the peninsula of present-day San Francisco, reported that he could proceed no further because of the strait. Sgt. Ortega was on Gaspar de Portolà’s 2nd land expedition to Alta California in 1769. He was the chief scout on this expedition, which discovered San Francisco Bay, and he was probably the first to see it. In 1769 Sgt. José Francisco Ortega, the leader of a scouting party sent north along the peninsula of present-day San Francisco, reported that he could proceed no further because of the strait. On 5 August 1775 Juan de Ayala and the crew of his ship the San Carlos became the first Europeans known to have passed through the strait, anchoring in a cove behind Angel Island which is now named in Ayala’s honor. Until the 1840s the strait was called the “Boca del Puerto de San Francisco” (Mouth of the Port of San Francisco). On 1 July 1846, before the discovery of gold in California, the entrance acquired a new name. In his memoirs, John C. Fremont wrote, “To this Gate I gave the name of “Chrysopylae”, or “Golden Gate”; for the same reasons that the harbor of Byzantium was called Chrysoceras, or Golden Horn.”
A Spanish mission, Mission San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores), was founded on June 29, 1776 by Lieutenant José Joaquin Moraga. A small settlement with an associated military fort was built in what is now the Presidio. Originally known as Yerba Buena, the small settlement became “San Francisco” on January 30, 1847 by official proclamation of United States Navy Lieutenant and American era Alcalde (Mayor), Washington Allon Bartlett.
The Spanish Presidio became the Mexican Presidio in 1822 and an American Presidio during the Mexican-America War. Today, the Presidio and many other former U.S. military properties became the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
During the Mexican era, Yankee traders would enter the Bay to trade with the Mexican settlement and whaling ships came to take on supplies and fresh water. The Bear Flag Revolt of 1846, the end of the Mexican–American War in 1848, the California Gold Rush (1848–1855), and the following Nevada Silver Boom all had a profound effect on San Francisco. The Golden Gate was the passage through which commerce flowed. Schooners and steamers came and went in vast numbers.
“The sweeping expanse that includes parts of the San Francisco waterfront, Marin Headlands and iconic sites such as Alcatraz Island and Muir Woods would be renamed the Golden Gate National Parks, under a bill by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.” (July 9, 2008, San Francisco Chronicle)

Fred Smoot & Patty Sokolecki-Smoot  
Sausalito, California

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