San Francisco history

Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Sanfranman59 / rotated, resized and cropped



San Francisco is steeped in history. It’s easy to find its Italian history, its Spanish and Chinese history, and even to some extent its Native American history. But the city’s French heritage is less celebrated.

Blackmail, My Love, is a noir murder-mystery novel set in San Francisco, 1951 - "The Dark Ages of Queerdom," as author and illustrator Katie Gilmartin puts it - when cops raided gay and lesbian bars, beat up their patrons, and demanded "protection" money, and when lesbians and gay men were so afraid of exposure they were easy blackmail targets. 

San Francisco has a rich history, with many groups claiming a piece of it. There’s the California Historical Society, and the Society of California Pioneers - which are not to be confused with the San Francisco Museum & Historical Society (SFMHS). Additionally, many ethnic groups and neighborhoods in the City preserve specific aspects of our past. Our history is a big draw for out-of-towners.

At Maritime National Historical Park, the golden age of shantey-ing comes alive again as sailors and sea music enthusiasts gather around an ancient vessel, the "Balclutha.” Peter Kasin’s job is to preserve these ancient shanties, and in turn to preserve San Francisco’s dangerous Barbary Coast past. But not everyone likes their shanties; some say they’re more bouncy than they were in the past, and should capture the sweat of the sailors who sang these songs way back in the 1800s to help make their rough shipboard jobs a bit more rhythmic.