James Lick
In 1832, James Lick returns to his hometown of Stumpstown, Pennsylvania to once again ask for Barbara Snavely's hand in marriage. He has now earned a small fortune and plans on building a mill and settling down. On hearing of his return, Barbara purposely disappears. Their son is now 14 years old, she has remarried and has no interest in letting James back into her life. He leaves Stumpstown never to return. He never marries or has any other children.
I have high hopes for us
Family ropes for your arms
But it's beautiful
Like a crest of gold that never dulls
And keeps us from harm
But most of all I want to see you in the morning
With your hair sparked from the sun
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High Hopes and Telescopes
Asbury Harpending
Even by the standards of the 1800's, Asbury Harpending lead a very adventurous lifestyle. By his mid twenties he had made and lost two million dollar fortunes, fought in the Civil War, and spent some time in Alcatraz for his plan to become a Confederate privateer off the coast of California. However, he didn't achieve true fame until he became involved with The Great Diamond Hoax of 1872.
So quick to believe they found diamonds in trees
In the state that grows gold and silver and copper
In the hills with the water

Exposing the crush of suspicion on you
Did you swindle a friend
Or are enemies planting lies in the London Times

You were right, you were always right
But for all the wrong reasons
Holding strong forever a southerner
You were right, can't get in a fight
And then hope for some reason

Fortunes are meant to be lost like this
As it slips from your fingertips
Getting lost in the politics
Thanks to a sympathetic girl
In a passing, fading world
Cut off communication Lady Fairfax

Oh the dust and the legacy
No one remembers adventuring or Montgomery
Oh a defensive autobiography
Oh is the world asleep
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The Great Diamond Hoax
Lillie Hitchcock Coit
Lillie Hitchcock Coit and her mother both became widows in 1885. At this time, they decided to leave San Francisco and move into their Napa Valley estate that they named 'Larkmead'. These two highly educated women became hosts to many traveling writers, professors, and businessmen. Three writers in particular: Joaquin Miller, George Derby, and Robert Louis Stevenson found inspiration and even editing help during their time at Larkmead. After three years in the Napa Valley, Lillie moved back to San Francisco where her legend is memorialized on top of Telegraph Hill.
You were always spinning
The dangerous mountain battles
He pictured in his mind
And for a time

You let him carry on this way
Any real writer would disagree
That Joaquin Miller was everything
He claimed to be

The foxes and the fires
On horseback you chased fast
Please tell me who's this girl
In the black and white photograph

Another decorated coat
Not as sharp as his clever anecdote
That shows up later much more refined
In the Herald Paper which you saw later

The most famous of them all
Comes to visit from Silverado
With his wife and his two last names
He goes out in duality flames

The foxes and the fires
On horseback you chased fast
Please tell me who's this girl
With the tower on Telegraph
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Lillie and the Poets
Willis Polk
Willis Polk was an architect who had grand visions for San Francisco's potential. While the natural beauty of the area was never doubted, the years of piecemeal building and hastily constructed dwellings fell short of his concept of a great international city. His mark would be made on the city's landscape with several grand estates as well as the Halladie Building and The Palace of Fine Arts. His guidance was sought after the Great Earthquake of 1906, as he was one of 50 architects handpicked by Mayor Schmitz to design a new city. He is credited with the phrase, "Make no small plans for they have not the power to stir men's minds."
Halladie Building, a study in glass
A villa on Nob Hill, a mansion on Sea Cliff
That's what will last

Architecture as compass
We got edifice as our mirror

Rebuild the city, one in fifty
Rebuild the city

One hundred ten feet from the ground
Shout down, shout down from the girders
And damn those that would stop us today
And damned if that means the mayor

Rebuild the city, committee fifty
Make no small plans
For they have not the power to stir us
To make a mark in time, to leave a monument
So make no small plans

Like the stars do; buildings guide us
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Willis Polk, Architect
James Kelley
Not everyone was a fan of the gold rush. The once-reliable source of cheap labor that the maritime industry relied upon was much harder to recruit when men were blinded by visions of gold. The gambler's lust for an easy way out tempted many away from the backbreaking months at sea that made up the life of a merchant sailor. Yet the need for workers did not diminish, and so new recruiting tactics were needed. Crimping (also called Shanghai'ing) was the answer. Inns would entice men with spiked drinks and the promise of cheap boarding. Then, intoxicated to the point of vulnerability, the poor souls were kidnapped for months of hard work at sea. James Kelley was the most infamous of all the crimpers. It is said he even threw a party for himself, and later delivered all of the guests to a steamer ship; for a handsome fee of course.
The country ends here
By train it still takes several days
I came for the dust, the rush
But it was not meant to be
The schooners need men
But they don't alway come willingly
Enter the man the wild red hair
They call James Kelley

A night on the town
Blood in the air

A night on the town, blood in the air
Barbary coast
Pianos clang out, the dames are loud
Whiskey on the house
I wake to hear the sound of sails, the smell of salt
Signed in the books, possessions took
Renamed in the manifest

At sea for weeks
Who knows when or if I'll ever see you again

Shanghai'd I'm gone they made their blood
Money from me
Paid me in debt already spent
I owe another year at least
It's legal once the paper's signed
A true captain of industry
They say he gives away cigars laced with opium
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James Lick
In 1874, James Lick revealed his plan to build a giant pyramid at 4th and Market as a memorial to himself. He had recently suffered a stroke, and at the age of 78, he created a trust to manage the disposal of his estate. The majority of his money was to be generously given back to the bay area community and public causes he cared about. He left large sums for the prevention of cruelty to animals, a home for aging widows, an orphanage, a school for the mechanical arts, and public baths to name a few. We now know that his greatest legacy is the Lick Observatory on top of Mount Hamilton. The $700,000 used to build the observatory was originally intended for his pyramid.
Here's to the most miserly
Pharaoh the world's ever known
With a busted up jacket and no life of his own
This pyramid points to a man given up
His revenge on mankind is to take his full cup to the grave

So raise a glass

Someone should put an end to this
Delusional madness today
Paint Lick a picture of how time will portray him
When an out of touch hermit who no one adores
Proves his own ignorance with a posthumous
Offensive eyesore

So raise a glass sometimes
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James Lick
James Lick traveled by ship to Europe, Africa, South America and finally all the way to around Cape Horn to San Francisco. In a letter that was reprinted in his biography he writes: "Sea Sickness is one of the worst [illnesses] which the human body can get. It is not only the sickness which troubles the human, but the beating and rolling of the ship, which doesn't lie still for a minute but plunges up and down with the waves. One must always hold fast with both hands only to stay in bed."
Please, mal de mer has got me praying
For you to flip this floating shack and

Send us below

Please, I want to be out with the dolphins
And sleep forever in a watery coffin
So far below

The sea is not for humans
For all intents and purposes
Two weeks since the Farallon Islands
And I still feel it in my bones
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Mal de Mer
The Barbary Coast
As the 20th century approached, the Barbary Coast became more and more of a tourist destination. The dangerous and mysterious places of San Francisco had gained legendary status throughout the world. Certain gambling houses staged bar fights and other acts of debauchery to thrill and satisfy wide-eyed tourists.
You were lonely
Open to adventure
Oh please
Take me out tonight

By the water
Danger pulls us closer slowly
I think we're losing light

Everyone is waiting you'll see
It'll be alright

You're so polite
To the gamblers and thieves
Seeking luck in you
In those dreary eyes

Where I want you
Believing in me
There's a fight in the street
We can walk on by

Climb in through this window with me
It'll be alright
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It'll be alright
Jack London
Jack London is not known as a San Franciscan, but he was actually born near Third and Brannan. He is mostly famous for writing stories of rugged men struggling to survive in the harsh conditions of Alaska and Canada. In his early twenties he experienced, and barely lived through, these conditions that he later wrote about. As he became famous, London spent more and more time in cities with other writers and fans, drinking, telling stories, and enjoying the excesses of his celebrity. This lifestyle, and his exposure to tropical diseases during his travels, took a toll on his strength and appearance. In an attempt to regain his health, he moved to Sonoma county and tried in earnest to become a rancher. He idealized his plan for rejuvenation in some of his later books such as "In the Valley of the Moon" and "The Little Lady of the Big House". In reality, his health continued to fade, and he died in 1916 at the age of 40.
It's hard to get away
But city life has weakened me
Now I'm half unhinged

I fight it with a fountain pen
Between my drinks and recovery
Yeah you will see

What happened to the other man
With confidence of a thousand strong
Singing country songs like this

Breathe in a field of wheat
A kiss from you and burning kerosene
But what good is making out
When I'm not about to give in

It's hard to get away
But city life is beckoning
Now I can't believe this

Once rather like a siren king
But oh how my eyes are deceiving me
Muscles faltering

Breathe in a field of wheat
A kiss from you is burning kerosene
But what good is making out
When I'm not about to give in
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London, age 36
James Lick
James Lick was often skewered by the local press for being an ornery curmudgeon who held on to every penny. He didn't care about being fashionable and was often seen walking through the streets of San Francisco wearing the same clothes he wore while working on his orchard. Onlookers thought he was crazy because he would gather all the old bones he found laying around the various roads near his estate. What people didn't realize was that he was grinding up these bones for fertilizer and that he was actually a brilliant and inventive horticulturist. He never felt compelled to explain himself. This self-imposed isolation and refusal to enter into the social world of San Francisco created a public perception of him as an eccentric miser.
It has been spoken that in spite of my fortune
I am afraid to live
This jacket a functional blue collar it's rational
For tending to the orchard and mill

The time wasted on clothes and jewelery
Is tomfoolery but that's not the point of this debate
'Cause I heard you state the following
As other guests were happy swallowing
The milk and honey of their fate
Yes in haste you uttered

Oh what I don't want to know
Oh you're still gonna go on
But you're speaking of the trappings of love
And can't you see it
I learned long ago
To let go

Oh lovely soul
You keep calling out to the ones that hold you down
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It Has Been Spoken