The Barbary Coast

The Barbary Coast was a red-light district during the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries in San Francisco which featured dance halls, concert saloons, bars, jazz clubs, variety shows, and brothels.

The Barbary Coast was a red-light district during the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries in San Francisco which featured dance halls, concert saloons, bars, jazz clubs, variety shows, and brothels.

Its nine block area was centered on a three block stretch of Pacific Street, now Pacific Avenue, between Montgomery and Stockton Streets. Pacific Street was the first street to cut through the hills of San Francisco, starting near Portsmouth Square and continuing east to the first shipping docks at Buena Vista Cove.

The Barbary Coast was born during the California Gold Rush of 1849, when the population of San Francisco was growing at an exponential rate due to the rapid influx of tens of thousands of miners trying to find gold. The early decades of the Barbary Coast would be marred by persistent lawlessness, gambling, administrative graft, vigilante justice, and prostitution; however with the passage of time the city's government would gain strength and competence, and the Barbary Coast's maturing entertainment scene of dance halls and jazz clubs would influence American culture.

The Barbary Coast's century-long evolution would pass through many substantial incarnations due to the city's rapid cultural development during the transition to the 20th century. Its former location is now overlapped by Chinatown, North Beach, and Jackson Square.

The term "Barbary Coast' is borrowed from the Barbary Coast of North Africa where local pirates and slave traders launched raids on nearby coastal towns and vessels. That African region was also notorious for the same kind of predatory dives which would target sailors, as had been done on San Francisco's Barbary Coast.

Miners, sailors, and sojourners hungry for female companionship and bawdy entertainment continued to stream into San Francisco in the 1850s and 1860s, becoming the Barbary Coast's primary clientele. During its early days San Francisco had become a "wide" open city where police had little to no control in stopping the activities of gambling, drinking, drugs, drag, and prostitution.

The fact that San Francisco functioned as a port city meant that it was able to sustain large transient populations that were less likely to conform to social rules and regulations.

Barbary Coast Trail, is a historic walking trail with bronze medallions throughout the city.  The Barbary Coast Trail is San Francisco’s official historical walking tour. The trail is marked with 180 bronze medallions and arrows embedded in the sidewalk, making it easy to follow from one end to the other. Along the way you’ll discover San Francisco’s dynamic history from the Gold Rush to the 1906 Earthquake and Fire to the present.

Information provided by Wikipedia 

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