San Francisco is the oldest major U.S. community on America's West Coast. Situated on a narrow peninsula that separates the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean, the city was the center of California's Gold Rush and the state's first capital. Although decades ago surpassed in both size and economy by Los Angeles, and in more recent years by its neighbor to the south San José, San Francisco still regards itself as the center of the West Coast culture and California's first city. It seems a brilliant jewel surrounded on three sides by water and bordered by mountains on the south. Measuring slightly less than seven by seven miles, and with a population that hovers around 700,000, the city's reputation and history far exceed it's physical size.
Although the city is recognized as the center of the area, many other communities line the shores of the bay. To the east lie the city of Berkeley and the University of California, and Oakland with its working seaport and economic woes. At the south end of the bay is San José... Silicon Valley. To the north lies Marin, perhaps the wealthiest county in the U.S.
The entire bay area is surrounded by steep hills and mountain ranges, effectively cutting it off from the rest of the state. Bay area residents like to refer to anything beyond the hills above Berkeley and Oakland as "back east." The bay area has a well-deserved reputation for liberal politics. Berkeley was a hotbed of radicalism in the mid- and late 1960s, and San Francisco has always enjoyed a reputation as a city where "anything goes." Although much of California is firmly conservative Republican, bay area politics have long favored liberal Democrats.
San Francisco appears in numerous game supplements and works of fiction in the pre-Revised Edition-era of the Classic World of Darkness. It was the titular city in the short story anthology City of Darkness: Unseen and the reprint anthology World of Darkness: Strange City. In the Revised era, its main appearance was in the Kindred of the East/Vampire: The Masquerade sourcebook San Francisco by Night.
Geologists disagree as to when the bay itself was actually formed. However, they do agree that it once stood above water, before the land subsided and the melting ice cap raised the ocean level. The Sacramento River poured down from the central plateau of California, cutting a canyon through the rocks separating Marin from the peninsula and forming what is now the entrance to the bay: The Golden Gate.
The Ohlone Edit
The Ohlone were among the first peoples to settle around the bay and were part of the Pleistocene migration of Asian peoples crossing over to North America via the land bridge between Asia and Alaska. The huge shell mounds found around the bay are silent testimony to their long occupation. The largest of these mounds, found near Fremont, is 30 feet high, 600 feet long, and 200 feet wide. The oldest layers of these mounds are presently below water level, indicating that the bay has risen markedly since the Ohlone first arrived.
The Ohlone were not really a tribe, but a cultural group; numerous tribelets inhabited the area. It is estimated that at their peak, they numbered some 10,000 and the neighboring Miwok another 3000.
In 1542, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo sailed north from Mexico in the San Salvador to become the first European to explore the California coast. Searching for “the Strait of Anian” (the fabled Northwest Passage), he finally made it as far north as the Russian River before finally turning back. Spotting Point Reyes on his return, he named it Cabo de Piños, but missed the entrance to the Bay.
The year 1579 found English privateer Sir Francis Drake in the area. Having spent his voyage raiding Spanish ships, he landed the Golden Hind just north of the Golden Gate in what is now called Drake’s Bay (named by George Vancouver in 1792). He called the land Nova Albion and claimed it for the queen, supposedly leaving a bronze plaque on the shore. After six weeks, he and his crew sailed out and, like Cabrillo, failed to notice the entrance to the bay.
Some have claimed that Drake actually did discover the bay and landed in Marin county. A bronze plaque was found here in 1936 by a department store clerk on a picnic near San Quentin Prison. Presently at the Bancroft Library in UC Berkeley, it has since been deemed a forgery.
In 1595, Sebastián Cermeño, a Portuguese captain sailing out of the Philippines, landed the San Augustin in Drake’s Bay. A storm sunk the ship and the survivors were forced to set out for home in a small launch. They finally reached Acapulco safely but, like so many others, missed the entrance to the bay. Before leaving the area, Cermeño renamed the area Punta de los Reyes: King’s Point.
In 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno, one of Cermeño’s officers, sailed north with the hope of salvaging the cargo of the San Augustin. He carefully explored the California coast and discovered Monterey Bay but he, too, failed to discover the entrance to the bay.
As the Spanish empire began to contract, trade with Manila in the Philippines decreased and Alta California was left more or less untouched for the next two centuries.
By 1769 the Russians were beginning to explore the North American coat in search of furs. The Spanish, alarmed by their intrusions, decided to reinforce “their” coast. Gaspar de Portolá, a Mexican dragoon captain, was mad governor of both Alta and Baja California and sent north with approximately sixty men. Among other things, he was expected to install Franciscan friars in the Spanish missions, replacing the Jesuits who had been ordered home after being expelled from Spanish dominions in 1767 by King Don Carlos III. Portolá’s objective was Monterey Bay, discovered 160 years earlier by Vizcaíno. Portolá’s ship passed Monterey on September 30, but failed to spot the bay. By the end of October they had made their way far up the coast and were in the area of Pacifica, just south of San Francisco.
Finally landing, Portolá sent Sergeant José Ortega north, accompanied by a small band of men, while the captain and his chosen group climbed the western ridge of Montara Mountain. From here they could see the Farralone Islands in the west and Drake’s Bay to the north, but were thoroughly confused as to their whereabouts.
On November 2nd, a band of men returned from a deer-hunting trip with reports of a vast, marshy estuary to the east. The next day Ortega returned from his trip north, having discovered the bay and its entrance from the sea. He had explored as far as the tip of the peninsula overlooking the Golden Gate. On November 4th, Portolá crossed Montara Mountain’s “Sweeney Ridge” and descended the eastern side, sighting the bay for himself. He ordered Ortega to explore south along the bay and up the eastern side in an attempt to reach Point Reyes; but the sergeant and his men were turned back by swamps and unfriendly natives. After a council, the group decided to leave the area and sailed away south. They missed Monterey again, finally arriving in San Diego in January, 1770. Soldiers rather than sailors, they did not recognize the importance of the immense bay they had discovered and, in their report, decreased its significance.
Five years later, on August 5, 1775, Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala anchored his ship San Carlos at what is now Fort Point, becoming the first to sail through the Golden Gate. Ayala’s expedition spent the next forty-four days in the bay, anchored off Angel Island. While Ayala recovered from an accidental gunshot to the foot, two of his officers explored the bay in launches. Ayala meanwhile christened such places as Angel Island, Sausalito, and Alcatraz (the latter name given to what is now known as Yerba Buena Island, misidentified by an English sea captain in 1826). Upon Ayala’s return, the decision was made to establish a Presidion and mission in the area.
On March 28th, 1776, Captain Juan Bautista de Anza and Lieutenant José Moraga arrived in the area with a band of men. Anchoring at the northern tip of the peninsula, the drove a cross into the ground and established what is now known as Fort Point. The next day they travelled southeast to a small pond and creek. Here they drove a second cross into the ground, marking the spot as the site of a mission they would call Laguna se los Dolores. Leaving men to guard the two sites, de Anza returned to Mexico while Moraga traveled to Monterey to collect Franciscan father, Junipero Serra, and the two hundred or so colonists being sent to the area.
Mission Dolores was dedicated on June 29th, 1776, just five days before the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The Native Americans were soon rounded up and baptized, housed in barracks, and set to work gardening and weaving cloth, all of which quickly destroyed their culture.
While the mission was “civilizing” the locals, the small band of soldiers at the Presidio languished. Unpaid, nearly forgotten, they depended on the holy fathers of the mission for a good deal of their food and provisions. The Presidio was built on an inland bluff, and at first no fort was erected to protect the Gate. When Englishman George Vancouver visited in 1792, the Spanish government criticized the Presidio for allowing him to note the lack of adequate defenses. An adobe fort was then built on the cliff and garrisoned by seven soldiers. So poor was the garrison that when a Russian ship entered the harbor in 1806 and fired a salute, a contingent of soldiers had to row out to the ship and borrow enough gunpowder for the fort to properly return the fire. Isolated and nearly forgotten, San Francisco would prove to be Spain’s most northern colony on the West Coast.
The first adobe mission was replaced by a larger one constructed in 1794. This building still stands today in the heart of the City’s Mission District.
The Californios Edit
By 1810, Mexico was in open revolt against Spain. San Francisco’s Presidio and mission, isolated as they were, were more or less forgotten by both contestants as the struggle raged on. The garrison, without shipments of supplies from Mexico, went into serious decline, the soldiers more and more forced to rely on the priests at the mission for everything they needed.
In 1821, Mexico finally declared its independence. Word of this only reached San Francisco the next year. In 1834, Mexico passed the Secularization Act, stripping the almost feudal missions of their land and power. Attempting to enforce their claim to Alta California, the Mexican government handed out huge grants of land, some as large as 48,000 acres, to favored individuals. Mariano Vallejo was among the best known of the Californios, managing to amass 175,000 acres that included most of what is now Napa and Sonoma counties.
Soon the bay area was divided into huge, sprawling cattle ranches that provided an active trade in hides and tallow, most of which was shipped out of the bay. San Francisco also became a convenient port for whalers working the Pacific Ocean. The Indians, having been turned out of the missions, either returned to the wilderness or went to work on the vast ranchos.
By 1835, the first structure was erected in what was to eventually become the village of Yerba Buena (and later San Francisco) by William A. Richardson, a British seaman who had remained in the area after his ship sailed back to England in 1822. Married to the Presidio commander’s daughter, he established himself as the Bay’s first harbormaster and pilot, later serving as a trade broker for the many English and American ships visiting the region. His first home was a mere sail stretched between poles, soon replaced by a wooden shanty and later, a two-story adobe structure named Casa Grande. Although now several blocks from the bay, before the filling in of Yerba Buena cove the waterfront was nearly at Richardson’s front door.
The Americans Edit
By the mid-1840s, Americans were moving over the Sierra Nevada mountains into California. In 1846, Fremont led a band of 60 armed men into California, only to be turned back by the Mexicans. He returned a few weeks later on June 14th, and this time he and his men stormed General Mariano Vallejo’s Sonoma estate. Vallejo surrendered without resistance and later, over numerous brandies served by the polite general, Fremont and his men announced the formation of the California Republic, sewing together a rather rude flag decorated with a grizzly bear and raising it over the Sonoma Plaza.
The village of Yerba Buena became part of the states less than a month later when, on July 9th, 1846, the ship Portsmouth unloaded 70 American soldiers and marines. Led by captain Montgomery, they marched ashore and raised the American flag over the town plaza, soon after renamed Portsmouth Square in honor of then event.
In January, 1847, the town’s name was officially changed to San Francisco, a move intended to emphasize the town’s relationship with San Francisco Bay. To avoid confusion, the small town of Francisca on the North Bay was persuaded to change its name to Benicia.
The Gold Rush Edit
On the site of present-day Sacramento stood the fort of John Sutter, formerly an officer in the Swiss army. He called his 50,000 acres of land New Helvetia, and ruled it as a benevolent despot. Sutter’s fort was often the first civilization seen by travelers crossing over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It was here, in a stream near a sawmill, that Sutter’s employee, James Marshall, first discovered gold on January 24th, 1848. Sutter realized what a gold rush might do to his plans and tried to keep the discovery a secret, but rumors kept spreading. The floodgates opened in May when Sam Brannan marched through the streets announcing the discovery of gold along the American River, making his point by brandishing a bottle filled with gold nuggets. Brannan, always astute, had wisely prepared himself for the public announcement by making sure his hardware store was fully stocked with mining and other necessary equipment.
In a flash, the town nearly emptied of able-bodied men as the flight to the gold fields began. Merchants quickly sold out mining equipment and calls went out to South America, Hawaii, and the Pacific Rim in search of shovels, pans, rope, and other goods. Alerted by the sudden demand, prospectors from Peru, Chile, China, Hawaii, and Australia were soon landing in the city. By December, a small chest of gold nuggets had found its way to Washington D.C. President Polk made the gold strike official when he announced it to the public. San Francisco was soon the gateway to the gold fields.
By the end of 1849, the city’s population stood near 20,000, over ninety percent male. Inflation was sky-high. Breakfast cost six dollars and bottle of whiskey, thirty. The favorite pastimes were gambling, drinking, and whoring. Describing the City in El Dorado, Bayard Taylor wrote: “Hundreds of tents and houses… scattered all over the heights and along the shore for over a mile. Yankees of every possible variety, native Californians in sarapes and sombreros, Chileans, Sonorians, Kanakas from Hawaii, Chinese with long tails, Malays armed with their everlasting cresses, and others in whose embronzed and bearded visages it was impossible to recognize any especial nationality.”
Golden Gate Park Edit
With the intent of raising San Francisco’s image in the eyes of the world, community leaders like Sam Brannan and William Ralston began campaigning for a city park. William Hammond Hall was chosen to design it and work began in 1870. Reclaiming the land from the shifting sand dunes proved no easy task but, despite doubts voiced by some newspapers, the project progressed. In 1890 it was handed over to John McClaren, a crusty Scotsman. Forbidding such things as Keep Off the Grass” signs, he worked tirelessly for years creating one of the world’s great urban parks. Dedicated to keeping the park as natural as possible, it was only over his vehement objections that statues and other such monuments were erected in the park, and then only allowed in the most obscure and hidden places.
Nevertheless, the eastern end of the park was to see additional development. The first building erected was the Conservatory of Flowers, put up in 1879. James Lick, who intended it for his San José estate, had shipped it in crates from Dublin. When Lick died, Crocker and others bought it for $2600 and donated it to the city. In 1916 the California Academy of Sciences’ North American Hall was opened and, in 1919, the M.H. de Young Memorial Art Museum followed.
The Mid-Winter Fair of 1894 Edit
San Francisco hosted California’s first World Fair, the Mid-Winter Exposition of 1894. Over park superintendent McClaren’s objections, it was staged in Golden Gate Park. Held during a depression year, the fair was nonetheless a success, running from January to July and counting over 2.5 million visitors. The exotically flavored fair featured major buildings designed in Egyptian and East Indian styles. Attractions included a Hawaiian village, a Cairo street scene, and an Eskimo village complete with fur-clad “Eskimos” paddling kayaks about a small pond. A favorite sideshow attraction was Boone’s Arena, featuring trained animal acts. Attendance at Boone’s increased dramatically after a lion killed one of the trainers during a performance.
Electricity was the exciting new discovery of the age and San Francisco’s fair was dominated by the lofty, centrally located Tower of Electricity. At night a revolving shaft of light, visible for miles, was beamed from the top of the tower. Although most of the structures were torn down at the conclusion of the fair, the Music Concourse and the Japanese Tea Garden were spared and still stand today.
The Earthquake & Fire Edit
San Francisco’s Great Quake struck at 5:12 AM, April 18th, 1906. The first tremor rattled the city for forty seconds. After a ten-second pause, a second tremor began, stronger than the first and lasting twenty-five seconds. The San Andreas Fault, only discovered in 1893 running offshore of San Francisco, has shifted. The epicenter was at Point Reyes on the coast where a locomotive was toppled from its tracks. It is estimated that the quake would have measured 8.3 on the Richter Scale.
Although the city was hard hit, Santa Rosa to the north and San José to the south, where over 100 people were killed, suffered the worst damage. Conversely, Oakland and Berkeley across the Bay felt only a small tremor. Stanford University, down the peninsula, suffered tremendous damage to its campus and buildings.
San Francisco’s sidewalks buckled and water and gas lines broke. Brick facades were shaken from building fronts while structures unfortunate enough to have been built on loose landfill sank and slid off of their foundations. Interiors collapsed and many people died asleep in their beds. In the city’s cemeteries, 500 tombstones toppled over, all of them falling east.
Unfortunately for the city, among the first casualties was Fire Chief Dennis T. Sullivan, fatally injured when his unreinforced brick firehouse collapsed on him. Most of San Francisco’s firehouses suffered similar fates, paralyzing these facilities while at the same time more than 50 fires were breaking out across the city. By early afternoon these fires had grown into three major conflagrations. One major blaze was out of control south of Market Street, while another raged north of Market near the waterfront. A third fire ravaged an area known as Hayes Valley, just west of City Hall. Communications within the city were wiped out and the aqueduct carrying San Francisco’s water supply up the peninsula broke. The winds were easterly that day, the reverse of the usual, and hot winds from the inland valleys quickly fanned the flames into firestorms that lifted smoke five miles into the air. Scorched sheet music from an incinerated Market Street music store came down in Marin, across the bay.
The U.S. Army piled out of the Presidio to join the fight, which soon came under the command of Brigadier General Frederick Funston. For three days the fires burned out of control despite the use of such desperate tactics as the dynamiting of buildings in an attempt to create firebreaks. Despite all efforts, the fire destroyed almost all of the city west of Van Ness Avenue before finally being brought under control.
Some refugees ferried over to Oakland but most stayed in the city, moving to the Presidio and Golden Gate Park where tent cities were quickly set up. Over 250,000 were left homeless, roughly two-thirds of the city’s population. Although the extent of the disaster was played down as much as possible, it is now believed that 3000 or more perished in the earthquake and subsequent fires. Earlier reports, intended to sway insures and future investors, lowered the death rates and claimed most of the damage was the result of fires, and not the quake.
Although most of the banks chose to abandon their cash, trusting their heavy, airtight vaults to protect it, A.P. Giannini, founder of the Bank of Italy, managed to get his capital out of the burning city hidden in a wagon. After the fire, while others had to wait weeks before the red-hot vaults cooled and could be safely opened, Giannini was one of the few resources of ready cash. With this boost, his bank rose in prominence, eventually renaming itself the Bank of America and becoming one of the leading banks on the West Coast.
Rebuilding the City Edit
Within three years the city was springing back to life. Of the 28,000 residences destroyed in the flames, over 19,000 had already been replaced. Downtown, new office buildings were being erected on the burned-out blocks, larger and grander than before. In 1912 work began on a new Civic Center, designed to replace the lost City Hall. Meanwhile, plans for a world’s fair called the Panama-Pacific Exposition to be held in 1915 went on unabated.
The Panama-Pacific Exposition Edit
Celebrating the opening of the Panama Canal, the Exposition opened on February 20th, 1925, and, despite a war then raging in Europe, was a grand success. 600 acres of bay-shore tidal land on the north side of the city, stretching from Fort Mason to the Golden Gate, were walled off and filled in to provide a site for the fair. The fair was graced by a grand rotunda called The Palace of Fine Arts and dominated by the 432-foot tall Tower of Jewels. This tower, encrusted with 50,000 pieces of colored glass, was nightly washed by 36 independent tinted spotlights.
Building Bridges Edit
San Francisco had long stood isolated in the center of the bay, reached only by ferry or the long drive up the peninsula. But in the 1930s the city would relinquish its isolation for the increased prosperity promised by two major bridge projects.
The Bay Bridge, linking downtown with Oakland across the bay, was begun in May of 1933. It involved the relatively easy bridging of Oakland to Yerba Buena Island by means of a low truss bridge, and the more difficult span from the Island to San Francisco with a double suspension bridge. A huge tunnel was bored through Yerba Buena Island to connect the two bridges. Double-decked, seventy-six feet, and fifty-eight feet wide, this tunnel is still the largest bore of its type in the world. Rincon Hill on the city side was partially leveled to form the anchor point for the bridge’s main pier. Originally equipped with rail lines on the lower deck, it was opened to traffic in November of 1936.
The Golden Gate Bridge was begun just a few months earlier, in January of 1933. Twin 746-foot towers were sunk amidst the swirling tides of the Golden Gate and huge cables hoisted, from which the rest of the bridge would hang. The longest suspension bridge ever attempted, it was to take its toll in human life. In February, 1937, ten men were killed when their scaffolding suddenly gave way. This single level bridge, featuring pedestrian walkways, was opened on May 27th, 1937.
See also Doctor Marstell
The Golden Gate International Exposition Edit
Most people called this fair “Treasure Island,” after the artificial island on which the fair was held. Located o the shoals of the north face of Yerba Buena Island, the rectangular, 400-acre Treasure Island required three years of dredging and filling.
The fair was meant to celebrate the completion of the two great bridges, but its theme was “A Pageant of the Pacific” and a particular style (dubbed Pacific Basin) was named the official design approach. Highlights of the fair included the giant statue of the goddess Pacifica, the Court of the Moon, the Tower of the Sun, and the ninety-foot Arch of Triumph. Opened in February of 1939 and closed in the winter of 1940, the exposition hosted over 17 million visitors. More commercial than earlier expositions, it featured many popular entertainers of the day including Sally Rand and her “Nude Beach.” By the time the fair closed its gates, World War II was at hand.
World War II Edit
World War II meant growth for the city of San Francisco. The major staging point for the war in the Pacific, the Bay Area became a focus of shipyards, troops, and industry during the early 1940s. Many contemporary institutions have their roots in this era, including the giant Kaiser Medical Plan, originally developed by Kaiser Aluminum to provide needed medical care for the families of the vast number of workers moving into the area.
Following the war, the U.S. experienced a general economic depression while a new thing called a Cold War heated up, threatening nuclear extinction. Alienation led to separation and soon a new generation emerged that questioned the values of all that had gone before. The beat generation of Kerouac and Ginsberg was born, huddled up in the North Beach area and on Telegraph and Russian Hills. Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti opened his City Lights bookstore while Ginsberg was prosecuted for obscenity, and beat clubs like the Purple Onion and the Hungry i opened on Broadway. But by the end of the decade, “beatniks” had become fashionable and the territory was overrun by tourists.
The 1960s started off with a bang when, inspired by beatniks, the Ban the Bomb movement, and Civil Rights issues, the New Left hit the spotlight. When the House Committee on Un-American Activities tried to meet in San Francisco City Hall, they were met inside the rotunda by hundreds of angry protestors bearing placards reading “Witch Hunters Go Home!” Panicking, the city police brought in fire hoses and washed and clubbed the protestors out of the building. The scene inspired a generation of protestors and the Free Speech movement spread across the country.
By 1967 the idea had become the Free Love movement and San Francisco was the center. On Haight Street, the middle-class neighborhood was giving way to a new breed of youthful mystics. Indulging in marijuana, LSD, and other drugs, the created a cultural style that was revealed to the world during 1967’s Summer of Love. Before long, a shrewd promoter named Bill Graham had rented a creaky old auditorium on Fillmore Street and was promoting concerts featuring local acts like Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and the Grateful Dead. These shows featured bizarre lighting effects and seemingly endless supplies of free psychedelics.
The Haight quickly became a haven for drifters and undesirables, and the movement itself degenerated into a fashion statement and an excuse to get high, but some things were left changed forever.
The notion of free love was one destined to be interpreted broadly. A small night club on the corner of Grant and Broadway made national news when Carol Doda began performing topless. Local clubs offered competition and within a few months bottomless dancing was introduced. For several more months, Carol Doda drew customers by continually enlarging her breasts with regular injections of silicon. About this time a pair of brothers named Mitchell moved to town from nearby Antioch. Opening two adult theatres, one on each end of the Tenderloin, they began developing a local pornographic film industry that eventually went nationwide.
In October of 1966, a young woman was murdered near Riverside, the first of a series of murders committed by a killer known to this day only as “The Zodiac.” Taunting his victims and authorities with letters sent to newspapers, he would kill four more times in the next three years, his last victim a cab driver in San Francisco. Although papers were still receiving letters as late as 1978, his identity was never discovered. A retired area detective claims to know the man’s identity but, unable to produce any evidence, he refuses to name his suspect.
This decade saw increasing tensions as the Vietnam war raged on, widening the rift between opposing opinions. The radical Black Panther movement in Oakland joined with the anti-war forces in Berkeley to lash out at authority and the establishment.
Tensions spilled over when in 1973-74, a Black Muslim splinter group calling themselves the “Death Angels” randomly murdered fifteen people in San Francisco over a period of six months. Eventually arrested, four of the accused were sent to prison and four released.
The Symbionese Liberation Army also made the headlines. Kidnapping heiress Patty Hearst in broad daylight, they demanded a ransom requiring the Hearst family to distribute free food to the poor of Oakland. Hearst later joined forces with the SLA and was accused of helping commit at least one bank robbery.
The decade also saw the assassination of city mayor George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk, San Francisco’s first openly gay elected official. He was shot down by Dan White, a former councilman refused reappointment to his office. White pleaded the infamous “Twinkie defense,” claiming that additives in fast food had made him mentally unbalanced. When White was sentenced to less than five years, San Francisco’s gay population and supporters erupted in an evening of violence now known as the White Night Riot. Released after serving his term, Dan White committed suicide a short time later.
The later part of this decade brought a new prosperity to San Francisco, and to America as a whole. Eschewing its old image as a small, low-rise town, the city’s new era actually began in the mid-1970s with construction of the massive Bank of America Tower on California Street. Soon, other high-rises were going up all over the downtown area, spurred on by the Reaganomics of the 1980s. With the construction of the city’s now trademark TransAmerica Pyramid, this unprecedented boom forever altered the skyline of the city.
The 1989 Earthquake Edit
On October 17, 1989, at 5:04 PM, San Francisco was hit by a magnitude 7.1 earthquake, the strongest since the quake of 1906. 67 people were killed, 43 when the double-decker Cypress freeway built on Oakland’s soft Bayshore mud collapsed upon itself. A section of the upper deck of the Bay Bridge collapsed as well, resulting in the death of another driver and a massive commuter problem that would last a month or more. In the Marina district, where homes are built on uncompacted landfill, settling houses touched off a fire that consumed an entire block. Overall damage was slight, though. Cracked expressways were repaired or torn down, and after several months the temporary scaffolding erected everywhere to repair cracked masonry and stucco on hundreds of buildings began to disappear. Like the phoenix that is the city’s symbol, San Francisco is always reborn from the flames.
This decade saw a leveling off of the bay area’s population, and that of California as a whole. The state apparently “full,” people started leaving California in favor of the northern coast, particularly Portland and Seattle. The growing number of homeless in the streets was a continuing problem and a depressed economy with no obvious means of recovery left a state that had known only constant growth, a state containing 1/8 of the U.S. population, in search of a future.
Always the land of spectacular disasters, California grabbed the national news again in October of 1991 when a firestorm swept through the East Bay hills, killing several people and destroying more than 3000 home. Fed by the same hot, dry, inland winds that spread the 1906 fire through San Francisco, it was one of the most destructive urban fires on record.
When the acquittal of four policeman accused of beating Rodney King touched off protests around the country, the still politically conscious downtown San Francisco was no exception. Several different groups of protestors marched down Market Street and over Nob Hill. Looters broke store windows and emptied shops and stores on Market Street and around Union Square.
Climatically, the bay area is isolated. The hills surrounding the area trap breezes from the Pacific Ocean, providing the area with one of the most stable climates in the world. Daily temperatures rarely vary more than five degrees from an annual mean temperature of 60 degrees F. Pacific currents warm the coast in the winter and provide cooling fog banks in the summer. While the bay area enjoys moderate temperatures, just 20 miles east, past the ring of hills, the inland valleys suffer through freezing winters and summers with temperatures frequently soaring over 100 degrees.
The bay area is comparatively arid, receiving around 15 inches of rainfall a year. Thunderstorms are almost nonexistent and skies most often cloudless… the hot, bright sun cooled by the hazy traces of fog that hang in the air year-round. A few hot spells occur, usually in May, June, September, or October, but temperatures in the hottest part of the city rarely exceed the high 80s, and only on the rarest of occasions do temperatures dip below freezing on the coldest winter night. Rain is a wintertime phenomenon, beginning usually in November with periodic rainfalls through January, February, and March. Although daytime downpours are not uncommon, a good deal of the rain seems to fall in the early morning hours while most people are asleep. Summers bring almost no rainfall at all. The lack of true seasons results in a general greening of the area over the winter, with wildflowers blooming in November, followed by a gradual browning through the whole of the summer… the most dangerous period for fires. Though the arid climate makes for relatively sparse vegetation, flora is a mixed bag of eucalyptus, pine trees, palms, cacti, and exotic foliage like jade plants, birds of paradise, and towering century plants. Few of these are native to the area, but were long ago imported from Australia, the Canary Islands, and other places.
The fog is truly the bay area’s most active weather. Forming a couple of miles offshore, the fog usually rises 800 to 2000 feet above the ground, passing over the city like scudding gray clouds running on fast forward. The fog rarely hugs the ground as one would expect, but drifts overhead, making for gray days… “milky skies,” as local weathermen describe them. Fog is heaviest in the summer when the cool ocean currents react with the warm air. The fog usually burns off in the early morning, returning in the late afternoon or evening, but the western portions of the city, the Richmond and the Sunset, dwell under a near-continuous blanket of gray for most of the summer, receiving at best a few hours of sunshine in the afternoon. Conversely, the East Bay gets less fog and the daytime temperature is usually five to eight degrees higher than San Francisco. The temperature of the city itself varies as much as ten or twelve degrees depending on the neighborhood.
But the fog is unpredictable, sometimes gathering itself into a 2000-foot rolling wall rising above the city’s central mountain range, other times flowing through the lower passes in spectral wisps that pour down into the lower streets of the city. The fog also visits the bay, passing in and out through the narrow Golden Gate, following the currents of the shifting tides. Often a gigantic column of fog can be seen rolling up through the Gate, engulfing the bridge and Alcatraz Island, and continuing across the bay to eventually crash into Albany Hill on the far shore. All the while, the city itself is bathed in sunlight.
People & Economics Edit
The residents of the area are as diverse as any found elsewhere in the United States. The Anglo, African-American, Hispanic, and Chinese populations are perhaps the largest, though sizeable Japanese, Russian, Samoan, Filipino, Vietnamese, Indian, and many other ethnic communities exist. The city itself has no racial majority.
California has, for more than a century, enjoyed the reputation of a boom state and, with a continually growing population and constant expansion, steady economic growth has long been taken for granted. In the last few years, though, both population and economy have stabilized, leading to a recession and the highest rates of unemployment that state has ever known. The computer and software industries are still strong, but almost all other areas of development are down. Oakland remains an active international port, but the area has lost the major portion of its shipping to Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland, and Seattle. The financial boom of the 1980s has given way to the bust of the 90s. Many downtown offices in San Francisco stand unoccupied. A fragile ecology already strained by the sprawling expansion, and the scheduled closing of several local military bases has further fueled fears of a serious recession. For the first time ever, recent years have seen more people moving out of the state than moving in.
Only the homeless population continues to grow. Drawn to the area by a friendly climate and tolerant populace, their numbers seem always on the increase. In the city the homeless inhabit parks and squares by day and night, sleeping in doorways and panhandling for food. Various proposals have been made to solve the problem, but none seem effective.
Traveling to the Bay Area Edit
Most visitors to the Bay Area arrive by air. The largest airport is San Francisco International, located a few miles down the peninsula. Oakland operates a smaller, but rapidly growing facility almost directly across the bay. San José International Airport serves the South Bay. San Francisco operates the most non-stop flights to the U.S. and Canada as well as select European and Asian destinations. An hourly shuttle flies to Los Angeles around the clock, a trip lasting 59 minutes.
For those driving in from the east, the most common route is I-80, a federal highway that passes through Sacramento after crossing the Sierra Nevada Mountains at the Donner Pass, near Lake Tahoe and Reno, Nevada. During the winter months, this highway is often snowbound, and travelers need tire chains to make the crossing. Heavy snowstorms and small avalanches occasionally close stretches of the highway for a day or more at a time. Weekend skiers visiting the Sierras often happily find themselves trapped and forced to spend a couple extra days in the mountains before returning to work. Overland bus lines running into the area follow the same route, as does the Amtrak passenger line. The Amtrak station is located in Oakland.
Sea travel is limited. Despite San Francisco’s long history as a port city, few passenger ships dock here, save the cruise lines that run in and out of Fishermen’s Wharf. Oakland, though, still services many freighters unloading shipments from South America and the Far East. Richmond, to the north, is the site of Endron’s major oil refineries and receives many tankers at its docks.
Getting Around the Bay Area Edit
The communities around the bay are linked by an extensive network of expressways, but traffic is heavy most of the day and night, and frequently jammed during peak hours of travel. Public parking, particularly in the city, is difficult to find and often very expensive.
BART is the Bay Area Rapid Transit System, a modern subway and elevated rail system constructed in the mid-70s. This system links San Francisco to the rest of the area via a submarine tube running under the bay. Three separate lines run north to Richmond, west to Concord, and south to Fremont. Additional spur lines are currently under construction, but the long-range dream of a system linking to San José in the South and Marin County and Napa Valley in the north, seems a long way away. The system offers regular trains between 5 AM and 1 AM, with reduced service in the evenings. Fares are charged by distance traveled and deducted from a computer ticket.
Additionally, various counties offer fairly efficient bus services, and taxis are found most everywhere. A number of ferries give smooth, scenic rides to points around the bay.
One of the city’s major industries is tourism. San Francisco, even as far back as the late 19th century, has proven itself a popular spot with visitors. Although some early guests of the city found it rude, brash, and devoid of attractions, many found its weather and exuberant population charming. Located thousands of miles from the population centers of the East, San Francisco feels less restraint and has developed its own code of mores and standards. Although more conservative than the days when sailors were shanghaied on the Barbary Coast and tourists ventured giggling into the opium dens of Chinatown, it still enjoys a reputation as an “adult city” offering a vast variety of entertainments. Restaurants abound, as do clubs and theatres. Chinatown is a standard attraction, as are rides on antique cable cars and shopping around Union Square. Fishermen’s Wharf, on the northern edge of the city, is the most popular attraction, annually drawing more tourists than any other place in the U.S. save Disney World.
Festivals and parades are popular in the city, many of them offering a diversion for the tourists. The most famous and most popular is the Lesbian and Gay Freedom Day Parade, held the last Sunday of June. Staged down the main thoroughfare of Market Street, the parade draws a quarter of a million spectators who madly cheer the various floats, costumes, and displays. Unlike similar events in many other cities, gay pride in San Francisco is a cause for celebration, not confrontation.
But any excuse to dress up and parade around the streets seems good enough for San Franciscans. The annual parades and festivals begin in late January or early February with the celebration of the Chinese New Year and the Golden Dragon Parade winding its way up Stockton street from Market. The downtown next hosts St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th, celebrated in a manner common to most U.S. cities… with a parade and lots of green-dyed beer. April Fool’s Day sees the unofficial St. Stupid’s Day parade staged through the financial center, finishing up with a penny toss at the sculpted “Banker’s Heart” in front of the Bank of America Tower. Japantown’s Cherry Blossom Festival also takes place in April, followed by Cinco de Mayo, celebrated in the Mission District on the weekend nearest May 5th. June is host to the Haight and North Beach Street Fairs, as well as the lengthy Carnival parade staged in the Mission. Across the Bay, Oakland stages a music festival called Festival at the Lake, fittingly enough, on the shores of Lake Merritt.
The Fourth of July is celebrated at Crissy Field north of the Presidio with an all-day picnic and free rock concerts, climaxed by evening fireworks. The end of the month finds the annual Polk Street Art and Music Fair. August is host to Fleet Week, when the U.S. Navy puts carriers and submarines on public display while the Blue Angels buzz the city. Early October is the time of the Castro Street Fair, followed by a grand turnout for Halloween at the end of the month. The Exotic Erotic Ball is held every year about this time. Originally The Hooker’s Ball, those attending wear only the most daring outfits and cameras are welcomed. Additionally, there are any number of charity events and free concerts staged in Golden Gate Park, Crissy Field, Union Square, and other places. Guest artists at these concerts often include well-known bay area musicians like Carlos Santana, Paul Kantner, Jerry Garcia, and Grace Slick.
Even sporting events are an excuse for San Franciscans to get into costume and strut their stuff. The annual Bay to Breakers Run is a world-class, professional event drawing runners from all over the world; but by far the most entries are the locals who, dressed in the most outlandish costumes imaginable, stagger their way through the seven mile race across the city from the bay to the Pacific Ocean. Clown suits, leather straps, bathtubs, business suits, wetsuits with flippers, and almost anything else one can imagine: all are considered proper attire.
Most tourists are Americans, usually from the East, but San Francisco is also the favorite American city of European vacationers. The most popular hotel locations are around Union Square and on Nob Hill. Accommodations in the center of the city average about $100 a night minimum for two-person occupancy, the rates gradually declining as one gets nearer the Tenderloin or heads south of Market Street. Restaurants number in the thousands, catering to nearly every taste and ethnic variety. It is said that one could dine out every night for 10 years and never visit the same restaurant twice. Dining out is a favorite pastime of San Franciscans and relatively cheap, although one wishing to spend large amounts of money encounters no difficulty. Theatres are bountiful, favoring the small, avant-garde productions but also hosting major shows from New York. There is a credible symphony and a grand-style opera house. Bars and nightclubs of all types abound.
The cost of bay area living is one of the highest in the nation. Skyrocketing real estate values in the 1980s have resulted in a situation where less than ten percent of the local residents can now afford to own their own homes. Rental rates also increased and, until limited by various forms of rent control, threatened to drive most residents out of the city.
With a recession on, steady employment is scarce, though skilled office workers and anyone with computer industry skills can usually find a job. Blue-collar workers and unskilled teens find things far more difficult.
Nonetheless, many find the sunny, mild climate and scenic splendor enough to make up for the difficulties. Despite the mounting problems, the bay area and the city specifically enjoy an optimistic, if sometimes unrealistic, outlook. Locals prop open front doors of department stores, restaurants, markets, and even banks in the morning, allowing the fresh, cool breezes to circulate freely. Glass partitions dividing the costumer from the storekeeper, or even the bank teller, are rarely seen in the city. Taxicabs use no shields to protect drivers from their passengers. Disasters such as the 1989 earthquake are met with a positive resolution unfamiliar in the East.
Hard Facts Edit
Utility service is provided by Pacific Gas & Electric, known as PG&E. Pacific Bell (commonly PacBell) is the telephone company. Because of the sudden proliferation of fax machines and shortage of numbers, the bay area has recently changed area codes. San Francisco, Marin, and the peninsula retain the old 415 number while the East Bay changed to 510.
The city provides water. The bay area lacks local supplies of fresh water and gets most of what it needs from the inland valleys or the Sierra Nevada mountains. San Francisco makes use of the Hetch Hetchy reservoir, pumping the water for nearly two hundred miles through aqueducts that run up the peninsula. A seven-year drought which was becoming a serious threat was broken the last two winters when rainfalls returned to normal levels.
Trash collection is provided by private “scavenger” companies contracted by the communities and licensed to serve specific areas. Bay area residents have a “garbage” bill among their other utilities, and most communities have instituted comprehensive recycling programs.
Two major newspapers serve the city: the San Francisco Chronicle, published mornings and afternoons, and the San Francisco Examiner (the Hearst paper), published in the afternoon. The two papers publish a joint Sunday edition. Herb Caen, a columnist with the Chronicle, has been a journalist in the city for decades. Many eagerly seek the opinions and political support of this well-known celebrity.
The largest and best-known banks are Bank of America (“B of A”), Great Western, and Wells Fargo. The supermarket business is dominated by Safeway, and Walgreens is the most common franchise drug store. The usual fast food franchises and 7-11s are common as well, but not so much within the city.
Moon & Atmosphere Edit
San Francisco is the perfect stage for any drama, comedy, or tragedy. If you wish to change the mood, simply change the weather. On the darker side, the fog rolling in can cause a sense of despair, isolation, and ennui to fall over the city. The toll of the AIDS epidemic has been sorely felt in the city’s wild heart, and death lingers in the air. Oakland, Richmond, and large sections of Berkeley are ecological wastelands, where drive-by shootings are common. There are many places no one would want to go. On the lighter side, it is a city of freedom, of wild pleasure, and of a passion for the arts and culture. Cold, hard reality takes its toll, but there are moments of transcendent beauty as well.
Vampire: The MasqueradeEdit
San Francisco was first detailed in A World of Darkness, a supplement for Vampire: The Masquerade First Edition. The city itself receives only minimal detail, however; most of the coverage is given over to the Vampire Club, a nightclub for Kindred built in the hull of a beached yacht. This book also introduces several characters that would have recurring roles in early Vampire novels and short stories: Sebastian Melmoth, proprietor of the Vampire Club, better known as Oscar Wilde in life; Tex R. Cainen, his bodyguard and the club's bouncer; and Vannevar Thomas, Prince of San Francisco. Vannevar Thomas and San Francisco were heavily featured in the novels Dark Prince and its sequel/prequel, Prince of the City; Thomas was actually the protagonist in the latter novel, which spans the city's history from the Gold Rush into the present day.
The Beast Within, the first Vampire short story anthology, featured numerous stories set at least partially in San Francisco. These stories introduced an error in continuity, however, as some stories referenced Prince Vannevar Thomas while others named the city's prince as Jochen Van Nuys. Several of these stories were reprinted in World of Darkness: Strange City, which attempted to reconcile this error by changing references to Jochen Van Nuys into references to Vannevar Thomas. However, in the Revised era, a different solution was found in San Francisco by Night, in which Van Nuys was revealed to have replaced Thomas as prince in 1996, and he himself was in turn later replaced by Sara Anne Winder. The Beast Within Revised Edition retained the references to Van Nuys as prince that were found in the original versions of the stories, implying that those stories happened after Van Nuys' coup.
Werewolf: The ApocalypseEdit
Mage: The AscensionEdit
The appendix to Mage: The Ascension First Edition covered the Awakened of the San Francisco area, similar to how Vampire: The Masquerade First and Second Editions covered Gary, Indiana, and how Werewolf: The Apocalypse First Edition covered New York City. Additionally, the introductory story in the Mage core rulebook served as the lead-in to the adventure Loom of Fate. The short stories in the anthology Truth Until Paradox feature San Francisco. As did the Hollow One novel Penny Dreadful.
Wraith: The OblivionEdit
Aside from short stories in the antholgies Death and Damnation and City of Darkness: Unseen, San Francisco is barely touched on in Wraith.
Changeling: The DreamingEdit
The Chimeric Bay Area Edit
The bay area is one of the most heavily-populated areas (in terms of Kithain and chimera) in Concordia. This is chiefly due to the tremendous number of small freeholds and glades which dot the landscape, providing shelter from the chill of Autumn. The cities’ characteristic permissiveness has meant that the average Banality is lower in most people than in other parts of Concordia… an average of 6 instead of 7. There are paradoxically quite a few Autumn People in San Francisco, especially now. Perhaps it is conscious resistance against wildness that causes this, or perhaps it is a specter of death, in the form of earthquake and fire which hangs over the city.
There are more nobles in the bay area than in most Concordian fiefs because of the presence of the royal thronehold of Pacifica (Queen Aeron’s own hold), and because of the curious noble history (particularly dealing with the Great Trod concealed within the city; it was the first such trod opened after the reunion of Earth and Arcadia in 1969). The commoners here are roughly average for the area, but thanks to the abundance of sidhe, they are much more bitter, activist, and separatist. In fact, radical elements of the original rebellion still lurk in the shadow of the Golden Gate, and some say the seeds of that fruit have taken root again.
Some Kithain sages have postulated that the proliferation of chimeric sites in the bay area also attracts a number of other folks, Prodigals and Gallain, who make the large metropolitan area their home. For this reason, Duke Aeon, who rules the Duchy of Goldengate, has become a stickler about enforcing the Escheat, especially the Right of Ignorance amongst the Prodigals.
Because of its wide variations in landscape, architecture, and community, San Francisco is a microcosm of the world, a city of opportunities and great adventure as well as dark secrets and bizarre mysteries.
Changelings & the Fog Edit
Changelings benefit from the fog in many ways, the chief of which is that they are able to use it to conceal their Glamour. For example, using Wayfare to “vanish into the fog” is perfectly acceptable and doesn’t need to overcome Banality if no one can see you leave.
Changeling Holidays in the Bay Area Edit
In addition to celebrating the traditional changeling holidays, Duke Aeon has declared special holidays for the fief of Goldengate alone. Among them are his birthday (March 31st) and the birthday of Queen Aeron (July 27th). The Ducal and Royal birthdays are gala occasions at Pelican House, where the duke (and the queen, if she is in attendance… which is not always the case) give out many chimeric trinkets which usually vanish with the morning’s light. Preparations for the birthdays go on for months in advance, devouring much Glamour and money but usually resulting in a beautiful reverie at the end of the day’s festivities.
There is also Starlight Night (May 13th), when the duke uses his own scepter to cause all the balefires of all the glades and freeholds in the city to alight with brilliant chimeric light that is visible from the rooftops. The traditional celebration is to view the beautiful display from the vantage point of Coit Tower and afterward the childlings run through the streets, chasing chimera who have been set alight with Glamour in a kind of action-packed “moving Piñata” experience. The current purpose of Starlight night is to appreciate the true beauty of the city at night. Its origin is apparently a paean to the love that the duke has for his Goldengate.
The Laws of Hospitality Edit
The custom of the bay area fiefs is that Kithain must offer hospitality of house, hold, and hearth to those of their kith and Court, as a matter of courtesy. Whether or not individual Kithain know or respect this is another matter. Usually those Kithain with Etiquette 2 or more will know of the custom. Although different Kithain interpret these laws differently, it is generally held by force of custom that guests are accepted by the owner or liege of the freehold or house are given into a sacred trust. This state of grace means that they are given the best of the larder for food, the best bed for sleeping, and the best drink for drinking. It is considered extremely bad luck to cause that guest harm in any way, or through inaction cause that guest to come to harm. Even if you accept an enemy of yours as a guest for some reason, you must honor this law. Breaking it invites the worst of luck and fate. There is only one notable exception to the Laws of Hospitality: those who are considered oathbreakers and honorless cannot demand hospitality. They do not fall under the same rules, and cannot expect the same treatment.
The Nunnehi Edit
For much of the history of the Bay Area, the nunnehi (mainly the Water Babies and Nümüzo’ho) were the only fae presence. Most Kithain had not yet found their way to the place. Even the most adventurous pooka seemed to give the earliest explorations a miss. In fact, it is not certain who the first Kithain in the area was: certainly, whoever it was found the nunnehi a powerful and daunting force. This was before the Resurgence, and therefore there weren’t quite as many groves and glens as there are today.
The nunnehi aided the native people, as is their wont, although they were unable to prevent the horrors of colonization. They made pacts with the seal-people as well, many of which still hold today. The family groups of natives near the bay also honored them. The nunnehi fought battles with spears made of moonlight, riding horses made of wind. They celebrated the turning of the hoop of the year. Theirs was an idyllic life, filled with Glamour. This was the time of the pure lands, the time before the European invasion.
Some Kithain sages believe the nunnehi shamans protected the San Francisco Bay from the explorers with a great illusion, although some say other sorcerers did this, and some believe it was simply a mistake on their part. The fact remains that the fog still rolls in. Nunnehi lore holds that the fog is an extension of the blanket of magical protection the elder nunnehi wove to conceal the bay.
The Fall of the Nunnehi Edit
The nunnehi of the area were nearly destroyed by the activities of the faithful of Mission Dolores. The “civilization” of the Native Americans meant that they no longer fed the moon-eyed folk their tithe of the kill, nor did they leave presents for them or allow their children to go up into the hills into their ranks. Indeed, even those clearly chosen to be nunnehi were forced to turn aside from their nature and their nunnehi-spirits died from the incipient Banality
For a long time, the nunnehi literally took to the hills, hiding in hollows and caves only they could see and enter. The cold wind of Banality swept through them and destroyed all but the heartiest. The nunnehi warriors now left now represent the last of the moon-eyed people, possibly for all time.
Market Street & O’Farrell Edit
O’Farrell, the man responsible for the odd layout of San Francisco’s streets, was in fact Kinain. Related to a nocker family, he had an innate sense of where the lines of power in a place were. He put Market Street diagonally across the city in an effort to forcibly channel the ley energy he felt coming from Mt. Tamalpais to the north. His primitive geomancy only partly succeeded, although he was never to see his work in action. The only reason the Kithain know this lore is because it was read in his journal after he died, a journal which is still held by the O’Farrell nocker family. It is said that this journal also has maps of the underground rookeries and caverns that honeycomb the land below the streets.
1848: The Commoner’s Gold Flood Edit
Nothing attracts the commoner kith like dreams of gold. Even the most practical boggan will drop their needlepoint to pursue such dreams. When word spread of the gold strike, changelings from all over the world heard the call.
Nockers in Boston and New York who thought they could smell the gold from across the country built themselves steam engines to power changeling ships around the Horn, fighting off the nunnehi raiders and changeling pirates in the southern seas, especially the Gulf of Mexico. In this time, as well, hordes of wild and strange Gallain began to appear without warning, also seeking after the legends of the gold. This is the first time in the city’s history when a number of Kithain and other enchanted beings came together in a cosmopolitan of the Dreaming, the first wave of strange inhabitants from far away.
The proliferation of so many changelings in the place (and the utter wildness of the time) increased the need for Glamour, and this caused a cultural backlash. Many Kithain became street entertainers, and a thriving red-light district grew up around the Barbary Coast area (Where Miss S’s House now stands). In the early 1850s, a herd of satyrs crossed the country largely on foot to take part in the gold, culture, and pleasures of the city. Driven by their lust for both gold and the exotic fleshmarkets of the wharves, they were instrumental in making the Barbary Coast the triumph of debauchery that it was. It is this herd that formed the basis of the Society of Telemachus and the Wine Country’s Brotherhood of the Barrel. The satyrs were a political faction all their own, but doing what they would, when they would, resulted in stern retributive actions on the part of the ad hoc citizen’s government.
Banality Hits Edit
For a time, San Francisco was a wild place, especially during the almost lawless Gold Rush days. But with the advent of the Second Committee and the Red-Light Abatement Act, the city started to swing back in the direction of Banality. Even the Society of Telemachus stopped throwing their Greek Revival parties in the gardens of their Nob Hill mansions.
Mortal politics and the like tend to mean nothing to commoners; but if they impact on the source of Glamour, then the fae act swiftly. The commoner leadership at the time met in private and emerged with several ideas to change the demeanor of the city. One such way was to create a beautiful green space in the midst of the rapidly developing urban area… a space which might inspire dreams and provide a place for the heart.
The Power of Fairs Edit
Not forgetting their carnival pasts, the changelings of San Francisco desperately loved celebrations and fairs and would go to great lengths to attend them, enjoying the lessening of the crowd’s Banality and finding amusement in the bright lights and beautiful music. The tradition of attending fairs as changeling en masse began on Imbolc of that year and since then, every major exhibition and fair has seen its “wild nights” when all the fae come out to play. Ancient rivalries are put aside, and merriment is had by all.
Reality Strikes Back Edit
Despite the fact that the changelings of San Francisco were forced to live in a relatively Glamour-scarce environment (not due to the lack of Glamour but to the tremendous number of changelings and Gallain), they enjoyed a relatively comfortable existence in the city due to the general good mood and feelings of its inhabitants. When the great quake hit, it caused a tremendous backlash of depression. The cold hard facts of the death and destruction made a lasting impression in the hearts of the populace, one that pushed Banality to an all-time high. Many changelings were lost to Banality during this time as their mortal forms were crushed, destroying their faerie souls as well. Although a few attempts at a mass Wake occurred, very few of the Gallain and commoner changelings who died kept their faerie soul. To this day, many commoner adults make pilgrimages to Colma and to places like the Portals of the Past and other quake memorials to honor those who fell in the aftermath.
However, those who did survive the earthquake and its rush of Banality were quite pleased to learn that a new kind of spring greeted them, and soon several fairs left both the city and its fae populace rejuvenated.