Welcome to Curbed's ongoing series titled Hidden History, where Curbed highlights a Bay Area location with a secret past. Maybe it's no longer there, maybe it's been converted into something else, but each spot holds a place in Bay Area history - even if not many people know it. Have a suggestion or know a place with a secret history? The tipline's always open or you can leave a comment after the jump.
It's a short week with the 4th of July, so we decided to have a patriotic Hidden History. California became part of the United States in 1848, but before that Portsmouth Square was the site of the first American flag in San Francisco.
During the Mexican-American War, the US wanted Alta California as their territory. Captain John Montgomery of the USS Portsmouth was ordered to seize Yerba Buena. The Mexican adobe custom house was located in a plaza on the current Portsmouth Square site, and Montgomery raised the first American flag on the site on July 9, 1846. The plaza was named in honor of his ship.
The site went on to see many historic events: the first public school in California was erected at the southwest corner of plaza, and on May 11, 1848, the discovery of gold was announced when Sam Brannan showed his gold to a crowd.
· California Historical Landmark 119 Portsmouth Plaza [Noehill]
· Portsmouth Square [SF Chinatown]
· California Admission Day September 9, 1850 [OHP]