Inside SF

The San Francisco Scoop

SF History

Current affairs inspired articles, with new and different perspectives, on San Francisco’s fascinating history.

Fatty Arbuckle

Fatty Arbuckle Affair: Celebrity Sex Scandal

April 15, 2024

Location: St Francis Hotel Long before anyone had ever heard of Fatty Arbuckle the St Francis Hotel opened in 1904 on Union Square, built as an investment vehicle for Charles Crocker’s grandchildren. Crocker was one of the ‘Big Four’ that had dominated San Francisco in the nineteenth century and, although he had died ten years…

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Big Alma: From Poor Nude Model To Rich Art Patron

March 7, 2024

In the center of Union Square, on a very high column, is a statue of Nike, the Greek Goddess of Victory. If you read the inscription at the base you’ll find that it’s dedicated to Admiral George Dewey, victor of the Battle of Manila Bay in 1898, during the Spanish-American War. Big deal, you may…

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Nob Hill

Nob Hill: SF’s Posh Neighborhood

March 4, 2024

San Francisco is one of many cities around the world that claim to be built on seven hills (for some reason it’s always seven), going back all the way to ancient Athens and Rome. In our case the ‘The Seven Hills of San Francisco’ are Telegraph Hill, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Rincon Hill, Twin Peaks, Mount Davidson and Lone Mountain or Mount…

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San Francisco Chinatown

The Original Chinatown: San Francisco

February 23, 2024

A Chinatown is defined as an ethnic enclave of people of Chinese background, that is outside China itself. From the 1830’s onwards a large, and growing, number of them have popped up all over the world, in cities like New York, London, Los Angeles and Melbourne. The oldest in the Western world is considered to…

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Maya Angelou

How Maya Angelou Changed San Francisco

February 12, 2024

For Black History Month I want to highlight the positive influence of one of our most famous former inhabitants, Maya Angelou, and show how she left an indelible mark on San Francisco. Angelou was born in St Louis, Missouri, but while still young her family moved to Oakland, in the East Bay. Like a lot…

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San Francisco in Film Noir

San Francisco In Film Noir

February 6, 2023

Noir as a genre was really born in San Francisco, in 1922, when a series of short stories by a writer called Dashiell Hammett began being published in literary magazine The Smart Set. It wasn’t known as ‘Noir’ at the time, these were considered to be, more or less, just pulp crime stories. But Hammett…

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the great fire san francisco

The Great Fire & How It Changed SF

September 21, 2022

The 1906 Great Fire is one of the most cataclysmic moments in the history of San Francisco. In many respects it’s the big “before and after” event here. Some buildings survived – the St Francis Hotel, the Flood Mansion, the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill, and the Ferry Building were amongst the few – but so much…

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Founding of San Francisco

Founding of San Francisco

July 14, 2022

If you look at a map of the West Coast of the U.S. it seems logical that there would be a port in the Bay Area. It’s far and away the best natural harbor between San Diego and Seattle, so it seems entirely natural – almost ordained really – that San Francisco exists. However, like…

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Chinatown crime and vice

Old Chinatown: Crime & Vice

May 19, 2022

San Francisco has the oldest Chinatown in the U.S. and one of the oldest in the West. Chinese first began moving to the city in 1849, as news of “Gam Saan” (Gold Mountain) spread around the world and reached China, firing the imaginations of thousands of young men who were struggling after years of prolonged…

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Gold Rush San Francisco

How The Gold Rush Created San Francisco

May 13, 2022

On May 12, 1848, Mormon pioneer and businessman Samuel Brannan walked onto Portsmouth Square, shouting “Gold! Gold from the American River!”, while holding aloft a phial full of gold flakes. He hadn’t discovered the gold and he never attempted mining it, but it fired the starting gun for the great California Gold Rush. He owned…

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