California History Timeline, May 20 to May 27

May 20

Government in 1861
Lake County was established. Located in the north central part of the state, it was formed from Napa and Mendocino counties and is named for Clear Lake, the largest natural lake entirely within California.

Lake County.

Lake County.

J.W. Davis patent for fastening pocket-openings (1873).

J.W. Davis patent for fastening pocket-openings (1873).

Inventions in 1873
Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis patented the process of putting rivets in pants for strength. They called their pants “waist overalls.” Today Levi Strauss & Co. is a world famous brand.

 

 

 

 

Business in 1874 
Levi Strauss began selling blue jeans with copper rivets for $13.50 per dozen. 

Science in 1930 
University of California dedicated $1,500 to research on the prevention and cure of athlete’s foot.

Accidents in 1946 
Physicist Louis Slotin was fatally irradiated in an accident during an experiment with the Demon core at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The test was known as “tickling the dragon’s tail” for its extreme risk. Slotin died nine days later from acute radiation poisoning.

Louis Slotin.

Louis Slotin.

Yuba City High School bus disaster (1976).

Yuba City High School bus disaster (1976).

Accidents in 1976 
Twenty-eight students and an adult advisor were killed in a bus crash in Martinez. The Yuba City High School choir was traveling to  Orinda for a friendship day involving the choirs of the two schools.

Sports in 1977
The San Diego Padres beat the Montreal Expos in 21 innings,11-8, the Padres longest road game. 

San Diego Padres.

San Diego Padres.

Crime in 1979 
The White Night riots in San Francisco followed the manslaughter conviction of Dan White for the assassinations of George Moscone and Harvey Milk. Milk was the first openly gay member of the San Francsico City Council. The gay community was inflamed by the leniency of White’s conviction.

Radner in 1989 
Gilda Radner, legendary comedian, acress and wife of Gene Wilder, died in Los Angeles at age 42. She was an original cast member of “Saturday Night Live,” for which she won an Emmy Award (1978).

Television in 2003 
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1997-2003) had its finale. Set in Sunnydale, a fictional California town, it depicted high school as a literal Hell. 

Crime in 2010 
Oakland police arrested at least 26 people as part of a crackdown on the Ghost Town street gang, capping a 5-month operation they called Ghostbusters.

Ghost Town tagging.

Ghost Town tagging.

Tesla Motors.

Tesla Motors.

Business in 2010 
Tesla Motors announced a $50 million investment from Toyota Corp. to help buy the recently closed Nummi auto plant in Fremont.

May 21

Of Mice and Men.

Of Mice and Men.

Theater in 1937        
The San Francisco Theater Union premiered the first stage version of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men (1937). 

 

Movies in 1980        
“Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” was released. George Lucas created it largely at Skywalker Ranch in San Rafael.

Hoffer in 1983        
Eric Hoffer, longshoreman-philosopher, died in San Francisco at age 84. He wrote 10 books, including The True Believer (1951) and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1983).

Government in 1996        
The U.S. Congress listed the California red-legged frog as an endangered species. 

LaRue in 1996        
Al “Lash” LaRue, bullwhipping cowboy actor, died in Burbank at age 78.  He was exceptionally skillful with a bullwhip and taught Harrison Ford  how to use it for the “Indiana Jones” movies. 

Cathedral of Christ the Light .

Cathedral of Christ the Light .

Architecture in 2005        
Ground breaking took place for the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland. 

Morris in 2005        
Howard Morris, comic actor and director, died in Hollywood  at age 85. He was best known for playing poetry-spouting hillbilly Ernest T. Bass on the “Andy Griffith Show” (1960-1968).

Great Seal of California.

Great Seal of California.

Business in 2007        
It was reported that California’s spending trends in five years would have the prison budget overtake spending on state universities.

Crime in 2009        
Police in northern California arrested James Stanley Koenig, age 57, Gary Armitage, age 59, and Jeffery A. Guidi, age 54, for swindling thousands of people of more than $200 million since 1997.

 

 

Marijuana leaf.

Marijuana leaf.

Government in 2010        
San Francisco planning commission approved a plan to open a medical marijuana facility in the Sunset District despite objections by area residents.

May 22

Crime in 1856        
Charles Cora and James Casey were hanged by the San Francisco Committee of Vigilance. Cora killed a U.S. Marshal. Casey murdered San Francisco newspaper editor, James King of William.

Execution of James Casey and Charles Cora (1856).

Execution of James Casey and Charles Cora (1856).

Indian Reservations in 1856
Mendocino Indian Reservation was formed along the Mendocino coast. It became home to Yuki, Wappo, Salan Pomo, Southern Pomo and Whilkut people. Fort Bragg was established to maintain order, protect the Indians and their land from settlers. The reservation was dissolved in 1866 and opened for settlement in 1869.

Pomo basket weaver.

Pomo basket weaver.

Indian Wars in 1873
Captain Jack, Modoc leader, surrendered at Infernal Caverns. This ended the Modoc War, the last Indian War in California which began in 1870. He led 200 men, women and children from the Klamath Reservation and returned to their ancestral homeland. Captain Jack was hanged. The others were sent to the Oklahoma Indian Territory and held prisoner until 1909.

Crime in 1908        
William Buwalda, U.S. Army Private, was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison for applauding and shaking hands with anarchist Emma Goldman. 

Emma Goldman (1909). t

Emma Goldman (1909).

Environment in 1915
Lassen Peak erupted. It rained volcanic ash as far away as 200 miles. Lassen Peak is the largest of more than 30 lava domes in the Lassen domefield.

Internet in 1973       
Robert Metcalf, at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), circulated a memo about his Ethernet ideas. He fixed this day as the birthdate of Ethernet.

Palo Alto Research Center.

Palo Alto Research Center.

"A View to a Kill" (1985).

“A View to a Kill” (1985).

Movies in 1985 
San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein declared this day to be “James Bond Day” to honor the premier of “A View To Kill” (1985). A third of the film was shot in the city.

Derek in 1998 
John Derek, film director, died in Santa Maria at age 71. His wives included Pati Behrs, Ursula Andress, Linda Evans and Mary Cathleen Collins, better known as Bo Derek.

Bo Derek.

Bo Derek.

Braxton Bilbrey.

Braxton Bilbrey.

Sports in 2006 
Braxton Bilbrey, age 7, swam from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco in 47 minutes.

Fires in 2008 
The Summit Fire began in the Santa Cruz mountains. It burned 4,270 acres and destroyed 31 residences before becoming fully contained after five days.

Summit Fire (2008).

Summit Fire (2008).

Crime in 2009 
Anthony Ramirez, age 23, was interrupted in an attempted robbery of a home in Pinole. He left his cell phone when he fled and was arrested following calls to himself to recover it.

Business in 2011 
eBay, headquartered in San Jose, said a bidder paid  $131,648 for a hat worn by Princess Beatrice to Prince Andew’s royal wedding. The Philip Treacy creation sold to raise money for UNICEF and Children in crises.

Princess Beatrice's royal wedding hat.

Princess Beatrice’s royal wedding hat.

SpaceX.

SpaceX.

Flight in 2012 
Space Exploration Technologies Corp., SpaceX, headquartered in Hawthorne, launched a private space capsule called Dragon on a history-making trip to the International Space Station.

May 23

Exploration in 1776
Juan Bautista de Anza’s party of 12 reached La Natividad. Father Pedro Font kept a diary of their journey exploring north from Monterey and discovery of an inland route to the San Francisco Bay.

Government in 1835
Los Angeles became the capital of Alta California. Political struggles between people in the north and south of Mexican California resulted in the Mexican Congress declaring El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de los Angeles de Porciuncula as the capital. But the honor was soon restored to Monterey.

Plaza from atop Fort Moore Hill around 1862. Courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library.

Earliest known photo of Los Angeles, circa 1862. The view looks east over the Los Angeles Plaza from atop Fort Moore Hill around 1862. Courtesy of Los Angeles Public Library.

Postcards in 1873 
Post cards were first sold in San Francisco.

San Francisco postcard

San Francisco postcard

Accidents in 1908
The Morrell Airship collapsed over Berkeley High School. It was the first U.S. airship disaster. C.A. Morrell built his 450-foot spacecraft in San Francisco but launched in Berkeley. Around 15,000 people watched it deflate and slowly descend from 300 feet. None of the 16 crew members were killed.

Morrell Airship Collapse (1908).

Morrell Airship Collapse (1908).

San Francisco Ferry Building (1915).

San Francisco Ferry Building (1915).

Business in 1956 
The World Trade Center opened in the San Francisco Ferry Building.

 

Sports in 1970 
The San Diego Padres beat the San Francisco Giants in 15 innings, 17-16.

Welch in 1971 
Lou Welch, Beat poet born in 1926, walked away from Gary Snider’s home in the Sierra foothills and was never seen again.

San Diego Sockers unisex fitted tee.

San Diego Sockers unisex fitted tee.

Sports in 1991
The San Diego Sockers won the Major Indoor Soccer League championship. The team added this victory to championships in 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992. They switched to the Continental Indoor Soccer League from 1993 to 1995. But after several ownership changes, the Sockers folded after the 1996 season.

Business in 1995 
Oracle Corp., headquartered in Redwood City, released the first version of the Java programming language.

Oracle logo.

Oracle logo.

Theater in 1996 
Joe Goode Performance Group celebrated its 10th anniversary in San Francisco. “The Maverick Strain,” spoken word and dance, explored renegade impulses in American culture.

"The Maverick Strain."

“The Maverick Strain.”

Crime in 1996 
Federal agents in Northern California arrested agents of China’s two main government-owned arms companies on suspicion of smuggling 2,000 illegal automatic assault weapons into the U.S.

Walmart.

Walmart.

Government in 2006 
Hercules City Council voted unanimously to prevent Walmart from building a big box store near the city’s San Francisco Bay waterfront.

Government in 2007 
California Energy Commission barred municipal utilities from signing new contracts with coal-fired power plants. Coal generated about 20% of the state’s electricity.

Vallejo.

Vallejo.

Government in 2008 
Vallejo declared Chapter 9 bankruptcy as it faced a $16 million deficit with no money in reserve. It emerged from bankruptcy in 2011. Legal fees were $8 million.

Business in 2011 
Square, a San Francisco startup, unveiled a new payment system that undercut credit card processing fees. Its lower fees to small businesses made it easy for them to accept digital payments.

Square.

Square.

May 24

Exploration in 1770
Gaspar de Portolà reached Monterey Bay to establish a Spanish outpost. This was the first European land exploration of Alta California, which paved the way for colonization of the region.

George Berkeley.

George Berkeley.

Cities in 1866 
Berkeley was named for George Berkeley, the 18th century Anglo-Irish philosopher and poet who wrote, “westward the course of empire takes its way…”

Fires in 1932
Bodie, the gold mining camp ghost town east of the Sierra Nevada in Mono County, burned. The fire that started when a boy played with matches destroyed 95% of Bodie’s buildings. Today it is a State Historic Park visited by around 200,000 people yearly.

Japanese American Internment in 1944
Shoichi James Okamoto was shot to death at Tule Lake Detention Camp. He drove a construction truck between the camp and a work site outside. A guard shot Okamoto when he refused to show an ID for permission to pass at the main gate. The guard was acquitted and fined $1 for “unauthorized use of government property” –a bullet.

Remembrance Project – Topaz. Seiko Nishiyama, Untitled, 1943. Hisako Hibi, A Letter, 1945. Gift of Ibuki Hibi Lee.

Remembrance Project – Topaz. Seiko Nishiyama, Untitled, 1943. Hisako Hibi, A Letter, 1945. Gift of Ibuki Hibi Lee.

Business in 1976 
California wines won a tasting event in France, beating several French classics for the first time. This began the modern California wine industry, valued at some $35 billion in 2012.

Crime in 1990 
A car carrying  Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, Earth First! activists, exploded in Oakland. They were arrested in the hospital on charges of transporting a bomb but the charges were never filed. They sued the FBI and Oakland police for false arrest, illegal search and seizure and conspiracy to violate free-speech rights. Bari died in 1997 but a jury awarded her estate $2.9  and Cherney $1.5 million, after deciding the FBI framed them as eco-terrorists.

Business in 1999 
Enron Corp., headquartered in Houston, Texas, scheduled thousands of megawatts through the tiny Silver Peak transmission line in Southern California to raise energy prices 71%.

Helicopter crash on Catalina Island (2008).

Helicopter crash on Catalina Island (2008).

Accidents in 2008 
A tour helicopter crashed on Santa Catalina Island, killing three people and injuring three others.

Martin in 2008 
Dick Martin, comedian, died in Santa Monica at age 86. He was half of  “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In” (1968-1973) that took television by storm. It made stars of Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin and popularized the phrase “Sock it to me!”

Ross Dress for Less.

Ross Dress for Less.

Moldaw in 2008 
Stuart Moldaw, founder of Ross Stores and philanthropist, died in Atherton at age 81. By 2007 Ross Stores were the country’s second largest off-price retailer with annual sales of $6 billion.

Government in 2011 
San Francisco supervisors approved a $1.2 billion plan to replace Park Merced’s 1,500 rent-controlled town homes with 7,200 units over the next 20-30 years.

Eduardo Arellano Felix.

Eduardo Arellano Felix.

Crime in 2013 
Eduardo Arellano Felix, age 56, of the Tijuana drug cartel, pleaded guilty in San Diego to helping ship hundreds millions of dollars from the U.S. 

May 25

Spanish-American War in 1898 
The Philippine Expeditionary Force, Eighth Army Corps, sailed from San Francisco. It reached Cavite, Philippine Islands on June 1.

Inyo National Forest.

Inyo National Forest.

Government in 1907
President Theodore Roosevelt established the Inyo National Forest near Bishop. It is home to Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the continental U.S. and Methuselah, the world’s oldest tree, which grows in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine forest atop the White Mountains.

Movies in 1932
Goofy, originally called Dippy Dawg, debuted in Walt Disney’s “Mickey’s Revue.” 

Article about Clarence Wolfe Jr. and W6JDI-TV.

Article about Clarence Wolfe Jr. and W6JDI-TV.

Television in 1948 
San Francisco received its first telecast. Clarence Wolfe Jr. operated W6JDI-TV, an amateur station in Burlingame. He broadcast a still image of a woman, later dubbed Gweldolyn, using home-built and Army Surplus equipment. 

Sports in 1970 
The Indiana Pacers beat the Los Angeles Stars in the third ABA Championship, 4-2.

Los Angeles Stars logo (1970).

Los Angeles Stars logo (1970).

Greenbush in 1970 
Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush, identical twin actresses, were born in Hollywood. Under the credit “Lindsay Sidney Greenbush,” they played the character of Carrie Ingalls on “Little House on the Prairie” (1974 to 1982). 

Sports in 1975
The Golden State Warriors swept the Washington Bullets in the twenty-ninth NBA Championship, 4-0.

Movies in 1977 
“Star Wars,” re-titled “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” premiered in theaters, inspiring the Jediism religion and Geek Pride Day holiday. The original Star Wars trilogy is considered one of the best film trilogies in history. It was produced at Skywalker Ranch in Marin County. 

Movies in 1983 
“Return of the Jedi,” later called “Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi) produced by George Lucas debuted in theaters. It was produced at Skywalker Ranch in Marin County. 

Business in 2001 
PG&E filed for permission to pay an additional $17.5 million to managers that guided the company to bankruptcy.

PG & E.

PG & E.

May 26

Politics in 1837
Don Juan Bandini lead southern forces from San Diego and seized Los Angeles. Political loyalties in Alta California produced power struggles between northern and southern Californios partly related to loyalties to Mexico.

Juan Bandini and his daughter, Arcadia.

Juan Bandini and his daughter, Arcadia.

Lola Montez.

Lola Montez.

Theater in 1853
Lola Montez debuted in San Francisco. The Irish dancer-actress who branded herself as a “Spanish dancer” was notorious for performing an exotic Spider Dance. While living in Nevada City, she mentored an aspiring young entertainer who became equally famous, Lotta Crabtree.

Cities in 1898 
San Francisco approved a City Charter that  allowed it to own utilities.

Cities in 1958
San Francisco‘s Union Square became a state historical landmark. It was named for pro-Union rallies held there on the eve of the Civil War.

Union rally in San Francisco on July 4, 1861.

Union rally in San Francisco on July 4, 1861.

Juan Corona (1971).

Juan Corona (1971).

Crime in 1971 
Juan Corona, the 37-year-old farm labor contractor from Yuba City, was arrested for 25 murders. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Sports in 1993 
Carlos Martinez, of the Cleveland Indians, hit a long fly ball that bounced off Oakland A’s Jose Canseco’s head and went over fence for a home run.

Business in 1997    
Hearst Corp. announced plans to development some 400 of its 83,000 acres along the San Simeon-Cambria coastline. Environmentalists opposed them.

San Simeon coastline.

San Simeon coastline.

Velzy in 2005    
Dale “Hawk” Velzy, pioneer surfboard maker, died in Mission Viejo at age 75, He opened the first professional surf shop in Manhattan Beach in 1950 and  owned five retail shops and three production facilities in California and Hawaii by 1960. Velzy helped popularize surfing movies by funding “Slippery When Wet” (1957).

California Semi-Gun Surfboard Shaped by Dale Velzy for Jeffrey Dale (1962).

California Semi-Gun Surfboard Shaped by Dale Velzy for Jeffrey Dale (1962).

Great Seal of California.

Great Seal of California.

Government in 2006  
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation making California the first state to adopt comprehensive controls on fish farming.

 

 

Coben in 2006  
Cy Coben, song writer, died in Atherton at age 87. His songs included “My Little Cousin” for Benny Goodman and Peggy Lee (1942) and “Red Hot Women and Ice Cold Beer” sing by New Riders of the Purple Sage (1977).

Hagen in 2008
Earle Hagen, composer, died in Rancho Mirage at age 88. He co-wrote the jazz classic “Harlem Nocturne” (1939) and themes for “The Andy Griffith Show” (1960-1968) “I Spy” (1965-1968) and “The Mod Squad” (1968-1973).

Pollack in 2008    
Sydney Pollack, actor and director, died in Los Angeles at age 73. His films included “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” (1970), “Out of Africa” (1986) and “Tootsie” (1982).

Pride Rainbow Flag.

Pride Rainbow Flag.

LGBT in 2009      
California Supreme Court ruled 6-1 to uphold proposition 8, the November initiative that changed the state constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The court said same-sex couple married before November 4 remained legally married.

May 27 

Portola's signature

Portola’s signature

Exploration in 1769
Gaspar de Portolà’s expedition camped at Batequitos. The name means small watering hole in the Cahita language.

 

Jedediah Smith crossing the Mojave by Frederick Remington

Jedediah Smith crossing the Mojave by Frederick Remington

Smith in 1831
Jedediah Smith died. Hunter, fur trader and trail blazer, he was the first white man to travel overland from Salt Lake to the Colorado River and across the Mojave Desert to California. While leading supply wagons on the Santa Fe Trail, he left to scout for water and was never seen again. 

Post Offices in 1853
Angels Camp post office opened. The town also known as City of Angels,  Angels City, Carson’s Creek and Clearlake is in Calaveras County. It’s where Mark Twain wrote The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches (1867).

Angels Camp.

Angels Camp.

Fort Point postcard

Fort Point postcard

Communications in 1854 
The marine telegraph at Fort Point was completed. Its pole had two arms that could be arranged to identify different types of ships were entering the Bay, like a steamer or a sail boat.

Duncan in 1877 
Isadora Duncan, free spirited modern dancer, was born San Francisco. Duncan was celebrated  throughout Europe after being exiled from the U.S. for her pro-Soviet sympathies.

“Chinamen confined in their quarters cooking their meals.” Harper's Weekly magazine (June, 1900).

“Chinamen confined in their quarters cooking their meals.” Harper’s Weekly magazine (June, 1900).

Public Health in 1907 
Bubonic plague broke out in San Francisco. A sailor was diagnosed with the disease, which had been limited to Chinatown, and it soon spread through the city. The Board of Health quarantined  Chinatown for a year.

 

 

Movies in 1933
The Walt Disney Company released the “Three Little Pigs” with its hit song “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?” It is one of the 50 greatest cartoons of all time.

Golden Gate Bridge opening ceremony (1937).

Golden Gate Bridge opening ceremony (1937).

Bridges in 1937
President Franklin Roosevelt officially opened the Golden Gate Bridge by pushing a button to signal the start of vehicle traffic.

Japanese American Internment in 1942
Tule Lake Detention Camp opened. This detention camp was part of the mass incarceration of over 110,000 Californians of Japanese ancestry during World War II.

Playground at Tulelake built with scrap wood.

Playground at Tulelake built with scrap wood.

Museums in 1951
The Maritime Museum opened at Aquatic Park in San Francisco. The park includes a fleet of historic vessels, visitor center, museum, library/research facility and hosts many living history events.

Sports in 1971
UCLA won the NCAA basketball championship. It was the era coach John Wooden made famous by winning 620 games in 27 seasons and 10 NCAA titles during his last 12 seasons, including seven in a row from 1967 to 1973. Wooden teams had four perfect 30–0 seasons. 

UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, center, talks to his UCLA team.

UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, center, talks to his UCLA team.