Alta California in 1816
The first U.S. citizen landed in Alta California. Thomas Doak was aboard an American schooner that anchored near Santa Barbara and began trading with a local rancho, which was against Spanish law. Doak deserted or was caught, stayed in Alta California, was baptized Felípe Santiago, married into a rancho family and decorated the Mission San Juan Bautista chapel.
Anaheim in 1858
Anaheim was named. It was originally a Mormon agricultural colony founded by Germans living in San Francisco; the home of Disneyland since 1955 and the Los Angeles Angels since 1966.
Mason in 1891
Biddy Mason died a wealthy woman in Los Angeles at age 72. She was brought to California as a slave but fought for freedom in court. Auntie Mason, as she was known, was one of the first African American land owners in L.A., founded a traveler’s aid center, an elementary school for black children and the city’s first black church. Biddy Mason Day is celebrated on November 16.
Crime in 1947
Elizabeth Short, known as the Black Dahlia, was found murdered and dismembered in Los Angeles’ Leimert Park.
Sports in 1967
The Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, 35–10, in Super Bowl I, played in Los Angeles.
Amusement Parks in 1975
Space Mountain, a space-themed indoor roller coaster, opened at Disneyland.
Sports in 1995
The San Diego Chargers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 17-13, to win the AFC championship.
Sports in 1995
The San Francisco 49ers beat the Dallas Cowboys, 38 – 28, to win the NFC championship.
Exploration in 1844
John Frémont and Kit Carson followed the Truckee River up into the Sierras. They were the first Americans to see Lake Tahoe.
Government in 1847
John Frémont was appointed military governor of California after the Treaty of Cahuenga ended the Mexican American War.
Theater in 1850
John Atwater presented “The Wife” at Washington Hall, San Francisco’s first theater. The San Francisco Call reported, “The only thing worthy of note on that occasion was the high price charged for admission, the large attendance and the poor performance.”
Theaters in 1857
A concert hall opened at the corner Clay and Sansome streets in San Francisco.
Newspapers in 1857
The Weekly Gleaner, an Anglo-Jewish weekly newspaper, debuted in San Francisco. The de Young brothers, who began the Daily Dramatic Chronicle were its typesetters. Today the Weekly Gleaner is the San Francisco Bulletin.
Newspapers in 1865
The Daily Dramatic Chronicle, published by teenage brothers Charles and Michael H. de Young, debuted in San Francisco. Today the Chronicle is the largest newspaper in the Bay Area.
Accidents in 1887
San Francisco’s Cliff House was severely damaged when 42 tons of black powder exploded aboard the schooner, Parallel, that ran aground nearby. The blast was heard as far as 100 miles away.
Parks in 1908
President Theodore Roosevelt created Pinnacles National Monument near Soledad. It protects some 13 species of bats, prairie falcons and California Condors and is popular for rock climbing.
Television in 1949
KNBH-TV in Los Angeles began broadcasting. It became KRCA in 1954, then KNBC in 1962. KNBC’s studios and offices are located in the Universal Studios Hollywood backlot.
Movies in 1959
Dalton Trumbo, screenwriter and novelist blacklisted for political activities during the McCarthy Era, revealed that he won an Academy Award for Best Motion Picture Story (1956) written under the false name “Robert Rich.”
Overland Journeys in 1847
Patrick Breen, who traveled with the Donner Party, wrote in his diary: “Eliza [Williams] came here this morning. Sent her back again to Graves. Lanthrom [Landrum Murphy] crazy last night, so Bill [Murphy] says. Keyburg sent Bill to get hides off his shanty & carry them home this morning. Provisions scarce. Hides are the only article we depend on; we have a little meat yet. May God send us help.” The Forlorn Hope snowshoers trying to escape through a mountain pass, reached another Indian village around this day. Foster and the five women are too weak to continue.”
Gold Rush in 1849
S.S. California, a side-wheeler steamship, reached Panama. It sailed from New York for San Francisco with mail, freight and mostly empty berths. When it reached Peru, people had heard about the gold discovery and 100 men bought tickets to San Francisco. When it reached Panama, some 1,000 men wanted passage and riots broke out.
War in 1873
U.S. soldiers advanced on the Modoc stronghold at the Lava Beds. Captain Jack’s band of some 150 people included 52 warriors. In the battle, warriors hidden in the fog fired on the soldiers. By the end of the day 35 soldiers were killed and 25 wounded. The Modoc suffered no casualties.
Crime in 1969
Black Panther Party members Bunchy Carter and John Huggins were shot and killed during a meeting to select a director of the planned black studies program on the UCLA campus.
Crime in 1989
Patrick Purdy, age 27, shot and killed five children at Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton then killed himself. He had been a student there.
Earthquakes in 1994
A 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck Northridge, in the San Fernando region of Los Angeles. Fifty-seven people were killed, some 5,000 injured. Property damage was more than $20 billion, making it one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.
Government in 2001
When rolling blackouts cut off electricity to hundreds of thousands of California residents, Governor Grey Davis declared a state of emergency and ordered the Department of Water Resources to buy and sell power to eliminate the crises.
Crenna in 2003
Richard Crenna, radio, film and television actor, died in Los Angeles at age 75. He is best known for his role as Rambo’s ex-commanding officer in the first three “Rambo” films.
Doss in 2003
Margo Patterson Doss, San Francisco Chronicle columnist, died in Bolinas at age 83. She wrote a column “San Francisco at Your Feet” from 1961 to 1991.
Stark in 2004
Ray Stark, Hollywood producer, died at his Los Olivos ranch at age 88. His films included “Funny Girl” (1968), based on the life of Broadway singer Fanny Brice, his mother-in-law.
Mayo in 2005
Virginia Mayo, actress and dancer, died in Los Angeles at age 85. Her over 40 films included “White Heat” (1933) and “Best years of Our Lives” (1946). Mayo was Warner Brothers biggest box office money maker in the late 1940s.
Crime in 2006
Clarence Ray Allen, the oldest inmate on death in California, was executed at San Quentin Prison on his 76th birthday. People argued that putting to death an elderly, blind, wheelchair-bound man was cruel and unusual punishment.
Government in 2007
The San Francisco Police Commission approved adding surveillance cameras at eight additional high-crime locations.
Science in 2008
Scientists at Stemagen, headquartered in La Jolla, reported creating the first mature cloned human embryos from single skin cells taken from adults.
Bell in 2010
Glen Bell Jr., who founded the Taco Bell fast food chain in 1962, died at his home in Rancho Santa Fe at age 86.
Missions in 1777
Father Thomas de la Pena dedicated Mission Santa Clara near an Indian village on the Guadalupe River. The 8th of 21missions was the first named for a woman. In 1803 the mission reported an Indian population of 1,271 with some 5,000 cattle, 7,000 sheep, 2,200 horses and 30 mules. It harvested about 220 pounds each of wheat, barley and corn.
Overland Journeys in 1847
William Eddy, one of the Forlorn Hope snowshoe party trying to cross the mountain pass, gave an Indian a pouch of tobacco to carry him to the nearest settlement. People were shocked by the sight of the starving man. They followed his bloody footprints to find and rescue other members of the Donner Party.
Newspapers in 1860
The Southern News debuted and was published semi-weekly in Los Angeles until Oct. 3, 1862.
Theaters in 1869
The California Theater opened on Bush Street in San Francisco. It cost $250,000 to build. There were murals of San Francisco and a painting of the Bay on the curtain. It claimed to be the first West Coast theater to use limelight with parabolic reflectors aimed to light the stage.
Flight in 1911
Eugene Ely landed on the deck of the USS Pennsylvania in San Francisco Bay. That was the first time an aircraft landed on a ship.
Costner in 1955
Kevin Costner, actor, singer, producer and director, was born in Los Angeles. He has won two Academy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards and an Emmy Award.
Flight in 1957
Three B-52’s completed the first nonstop, round-the-world flight by jet planes. They landed at March Air Force Base after more than 45 hours in flight.
Sports in 1963
Al Davis became the head coach and general manager of the Oakland Raiders.
Accidents in 1969
United Airlines Flight 266 crashed into Santa Monica Bay four minutes after taking off from Los Angeles. All 32 passengers and six crew members were killed.
Accidents in 1971
Two Standard Oil tankers collided in the fog outside of the Golden Gate Bridge, spilling some 1.9 million gallons of heavy bunker oil.
Museums in 1995
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta, opened. It cost $63 million.
Sports in 1997
East beat West, 11-7, in the 47th NHL All-Star Game played at San Jose Arena.
Energy in 2001
A second day of rolling blackouts struck electricity-strapped California.
Business in 2001
San Francisco sued 13 energy companies for fixing electricity prices and restricting energy supplies.
Crime in 2002
Sara Jane Olson was sentenced in Los Angeles to 20 years to life in prison. The ’70s radical, now a suburban mother, tried to blow up two police cars in 1975.
Sports in 2003
Michelle Kwan, born in Torrence, won her sixth straight U.S. Figure Skating Championships title and seventh overall.
May in 2009
Bob May, actor, died in Lancaster at age 69. He wore the Robot’s suit in the hit 1960s television show “Lost in Space.”
Overland Journeys in 1847
Patrick Breen, traveling with the Donner Party, wrote in his diary: “Clear & pleasant. Thawing a little in the sun. Wind S.W. Peggy & Edward sick last night by eating some meat that Dolan threw his tobacco on; pretty well to day (praise God for his blessings). Lanthrom very low; in danger if relief don’t soon come. Hides are all the go; not much of any other in camp.”
Flight in 1937
Millionaire Howard Hughes broke the transcontinental air record by flying his plane from Los Angeles to Newark, New Jersey in seven hours, 28 minutes, and 25 seconds.
Civil Rights in 1970
UCLA fired professor Dr. Angela Davis, political activist, scholar and author. She was arrested, charged, tried, and acquitted of conspiracy in the 1970 armed take-over of a Marin County courtroom in which four persons died.
Sports in 1974
Notre Dame beat UCLA, 71–70, ending their NCAA-record 88-game streak of basketball wins.
Business in 1983
Apple announced the Apple Lisa. it was the first commercial personal computer with a graphical user interface and a computer mouse. The Lisa originally cost $9,995 but one sold to a collector for $15,000 in 2010.
Government in 1984
The California Supreme Court rejected the appeal by quadriplegic Elizabeth Bouvia to starve herself to death in a public hospital.
Sports in 1993
The Oakland A’s unveiled a new elephant logo.
Sports in 2002
The Oakland Raiders lead the New England Patriots, 13-10, in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game. With under two minutes to play, Tom Brady’s fumble was ruled an incomplete pass. The Patriots won in overtime, 16-13.
Overland Journeys in 1847
Patrick Breen, traveling with the Donner Party, wrote in his diary: “Fine morning. Wind N. Froze hard last night. Expecting some person across the Mountain this week.”
Business in 1872
The California Stock Exchange Board opened to manage stock investments in the Comstock silver mines, which produced enormous wealth.
Post Offices in 1900
A U.S. Post Office opened at Peanut, an unincorporated community south of Hayfork in Trinity County.
Movies in 1929
The first feature talking motion picture was filmed outdoors on location in California and the Southwest. “In Old Arizona” was released on January 20, 1929.
Environment in 1937
The temperature at Boca fell to −45 °F (−42.8 °C), the lowest temperature ever recorded in California.
Japanese American Internment in 1944
Japanese American men were drafted from detention camps to fight in War II. Some 120,000 Japanese Americans, labeled Enemy Aliens, were locked up at War Relocation Centers. But when needed for combat, some 33,000 fought. Their 442nd Regimental Combat Team became the most decorated infantry regiment in U.S. Army history.
Music in 1965
The Byrds entered Columbia Studios in Hollywood to record “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Their jangly guitars and intellectual lyrics inspired folk rock.
Sports in 1968
The Houston Cougars ended UCLA’s 47-game basketball winning streak, 71-69. It was the first NCAA regular season game broadcast nationwide in prime time and paved the way for the modern “March Madness” television coverage.
Sports in 1980
The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Los Angeles Rams, 31-19, in Super Bowl XIV, played in Pasadena.
Sports in 1985
The San Francisco 49ers beat the Miami Dolphins, 38-16, in Super Bowl XIX, played at Stanford.
Music in 1987
Rhino Records reissue of Billy Vera & The Beaters’ “At This Moment” reached #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts.
Crime in 1987
Bank robber Robert Alan Litchfield was arrested at Lake Tahoe.
Overland Journeys in 1847
Patrick Breen, traveling with the Donner Party, wrote in his diary: “Fine morning. Wind W. Did not freeze quite so hard last night as it has done. John Battice & Denton came this morning with Eliza. She won’t eat hides. Mrs Reid sent her back to live or die on them. Milt. got his toes froze. The Donners are all well.”
Civil Rights in 1856
Biddy Mason won freedom in court. She was brought to California as a slave in 1851, although it was against the law. She and a group of other slaves fled but were captured. So she petitioned a Los Angeles court for her freedom, which she won for herself and the others, including her three daughters. She became a cornerstone of the African American community in L.A.; a nurse and midwife, an entrepreneur who leveraged her fortune for the benefit of others. Today a park is named in her honor. Biddy Mason Day is celebrated on November 16.
Music in 1959
The Kingston Trio’s “Tom Dooley” was awarded a gold record. The San Francisco band released 19 albums that made Billboard’s Top 100, 14 that ranked in the top 10, and 5 that hit the number 1 spot.
Environment in 1962
Snow fell in San Francisco. Other dates when it snowed there are December 1882, February 5, 1887, February 28, 1951 and February 6, 1976.
Music in 1966
The 3-day Trips Festival in San Francisco marked the beginning of the psychedelic 60’s era. The Grateful Dead played to a massive crowd. Many consider it the first festival like Woodstock and Burning Man.
Government in 1842
The Mexican government appointed Manuel Micheltorena governor of Alta California and sent him with 300 soldiers to secure control of Monterey, the provincial capital. Before he reached Monterey, however, U.S. naval forces mistakenly thought war had broken out between the U.S. and Mexico and captured Monterey Bay.
Crime in 1849
Three robbers were hanged at Dry Diggins, later known as Hangtown. Today it’s called Placerville. The stump of the original hanging tree, it’s said, is in the cellar of The Hangman’s Tree bar.
Newspapers in 1850
The Alta California, previously published weekly in San Francisco, became the first daily paper in California.
Parks in 1939
Aquatic Park, near Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, was dedicated. It includes a beach with a Victorian Park, bocce ball courts and the Bathhouse Building with the Maritime Museum and the oldest senior center in the U.S.
Environment in 1943
Some 26 inches of snow fell at Hoegees Camp in the Angeles National Forest.
Television in 1947
KTLA was the first commercially licensed television station in the western U.S. Today its studios are on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.
Business in 1949
The Chinatown Telephone Exchange closed. Since 1894 it ran a Chinese language telephone service which operated independently of the central San Francisco exchange.
Accidents in 1956
A Santa Fe Railway train on its way to San Diego lurched off a curve near the Los Angeles River. Thirty people died in Los Angeles’ deadliest rail disaster.
Sports in 1984
The Los Angeles Raiders beat the Washington Red Skins, 38-9 in Super Bowl XVIII, played in Tampa, Florida.
Business in 1984
Apple Computers television commercial for the new Macintosh computer was broadcast only one time; during the Super Bowl. It became one of the most successful American television commercials of all time, an advertising masterpiece.
Sports in 1989
The San Francisco 49ers beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 20-16, in Super Bowl XXIII, played in Miami, Florida.
Sports in 1989
Bill Walsh retired after winning his third Super Bowl as head coach of the San Fransisco 49ers.
Sports in 1998
Rickey Henderson, outfielder, rejoined the Oakland A’s for 4th time.
Sports in 1990
Will Clark, National League’s MVP, signed a 4-year contract with the San Francisco Giants for $15 million.