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Music and Politics in San Francisco From the 1906 Quake to the Second World War

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The Paris of the West

San Francisco at the Turn of the Century

San Francisco is "a mad city," wrote Rudyard Kipling of his visit in 1889, "inhabited for the most part by perfectly insane people." Indeed, San Francisco's reputation as brash, exotic, offbeat, diverse, free-spirited, opinionated, self-confident, quirky, and above all, fun was well established by the end of the nineteenth century. By the 1870s, it was already known as the Paris of the West-a must-visit destination for tourists, mariners, sightseers, and fortune seekers, a city of mystery and intrigue, a gathering place for the world's adventurers. San Francisco "is not only the most interesting city in the Union and the hugest smelting-pot of races," wrote Robert Louis Stevenson, but "she keeps, besides, the doors of the Pacific, and is the port of entry to another world and an earlier epoch in man's history."

The city had grown up haphazardly-with little or no urban planning-as the locus of the gold rush, and it boasted a fiercely independent population of adventurers hailing from Europe, Asia, and the eastern United States. These immigrants, of course, brought with them not only their material possessions but also their musical cultures, fostering a fascinating, if at times unrefined, sonic diversity.

Among the early settlers who particularly prized music as a historical marker were the Germans, who came to San Francisco in large numbers and proudly built on their long-established tradition of instrumental music. From the 1850s through the early years of the twentieth century, a series of conductors-mostly German (or German-trained)-attempted to establish high-quality professional orchestras. Rudolph Herold, Louis Homeier, Gustav Hinrichs, Fritz Scheel, Paul Steindorff, Frederick Wolle, William Zech: all founded symphonic groups that flourished for short periods. All ultimately failed. When the San Francisco Symphony finally opened its first season in 1911, a U.S.-born conductor, Henry Hadley, was at the helm. Four years later, however, he was replaced by another German, Alfred Hertz, who built the orchestra into an outstanding ensemble and who remained in charge until the Depression.

A large Italian contingent set up its own subcommunity in the North Beach area of the city and promoted opera so successfully that San Francisco became a magnet for traveling companies from the East, as well as from South America. The city's first complete opera presentation took place in February 1851, only three years after James Marshall discovered gold at John Sutter's mill. The eventual establishment of a resident company, however, was hampered in the early twentieth century not only by the dearth of experienced singers, managers, and directors but also by the absence of a suitable venue. After April 1906, when all the major theaters were destroyed in the devastating earthquake and fire, political squabbling blocked the construction of an opera house for another twenty-six years. Nevertheless, an enterprising Italian, Gaetano Merola, managed to found the San Francisco Opera in the early 1920s; it performed in venues with frustratingly poor acoustics for a decade.

Rival statues in Golden Gate Park mark the German and Italian musical territories. In 1914 the Italians erected a vibrant bronze tribute to Verdi at the climax of a grandiose operatic festival; it was unveiled in a ceremony that reportedly attracted twenty thousand people. Adult and children's choirs sang, but the biggest attraction was San Francisco's prized musical discovery-prima donna Luisa Tetrazzini, who had made her U.S. debut in the city in 1905. The following year the Germans weighed in with a sober tribute to Beethoven (a replica of the statue in New York's Central Park), whose dedication inaugurated a three-day Beethoven Festival. A thousand people attended the statue's unveiling and "bared their heads" as they listened to the band play the second movement of the Fifth Symphony. The dark-colored Beethoven, head bowed in deep contemplation, stands next to the park's Temple of Music, an elegant stone shell and stage erected in 1900 with a donation from sugar king Claus Spreckels. In stark contrast, the gold-colored Verdi holds his head high, looking down on Beethoven and the music concourse from a hill behind the stage.

Jewish entrepreneurs also arrived during San Francisco's gold rush years and discovered a welcoming community in which to establish businesses that served the mining pioneers. By 1850 two synagogues (still functioning today) served the growing population: Temple Emanu-El, catering to the wealthy German Jews, and Sherith Israel, serving the eastern European immigrants. Among the early arrivals was Levi Strauss, who came to the city in March 1853. Two of his nephews, Jacob and Sigmund Stern-heirs to Strauss's blue-jeans fortune-became particularly strong supporters of the arts, both visual and aural, as did numerous other members of the Jewish community. Among the founders of the San Francisco Symphony, Jewish names appear in far greater numbers than their proportion in the population: Ehrman, Esberg, Fleischhacker, Gerstle, Haas, Hecht, Hellman, Jacobi, Koshland, Lilienthal, Schloss, Sloss, Stern, to name but a few. In later years, many of these patrons continued to serve San Francisco's cultural community. Sidney Ehrman was one of the principal supporters of local violin wunderkind Yehudi Menuhin (whose father was a San Francisco Hebrew-school teacher); the Fleischhackers founded the San Francisco Zoo; Cora Koshland delighted in hosting elaborate musicales at her Presidio Heights mansion-modeled on the Petit Trianon at Versailles and complete with pipe organ-in which she could seat an audience of a hundred or host informal gatherings three times that size; and Rosalie Stern, in the 1930s, donated to the city a thirty-three-and-a-half-acre grove near Golden Gate Park. The Sigmund Stern Grove, named in memory of her husband, continues to host operatic and orchestral outdoor music events that attract thousands of attendees.

As early as 1849, Chinese gold-seekers began arriving in San Francisco in response to reports of the Sutter's Mill discovery brought to China by U.S. sea traders. Thus began a virtual flood of Chinese immigration to what they called Gam Saan (the "Golden Mountains"). By December of the following year, some 10,000 residents of the Guangdong (Canton) region had arrived in California to try their luck in the mining frenzy. Between 1848 and 1876, more than 200,000 Chinese arrived in the United States through San Francisco. Ineligible for citizenship, most came with the intention of making a quick fortune and returning to China; more than 90,000 returned to Asia in this same period. San Francisco became home to the largest community of Chinese in the nation. At the end of the century, there were twice as many Chinese in California as in the rest of the states combined. And within California, the largest community, by far, was in San Francisco. Out of 75,132 Chinese in California in 1880, for example, 21,745 lived in San Francisco, about four-and-a-half times the size of the next largest community (in Sacramento). San Francisco's Chinese population-at first almost exclusively male-set up its own insular community, called Tangrenbu (Port of the People of Tang), occupying, by the century's end, an area of about fifteen blocks in the heart of the city. Reviled by the surrounding white community, Chinatown provoked exaggerated tales of opium consumption, prostitution, and gambling in labyrinthine underground tunnels. At the same time, the area's illicit reputation became a source of titillating curiosity, and Chinatown served, even in that era, as one of San Francisco's main tourist attractions. Gullible visitors were led through the area by unscrupulous guides who staged street fights and paid residents to simulate drug havens. The Chinese opera, a link to these residents' home culture, flourished in the era before the earthquake. Most white visitors-with some notable exceptions, as we will see-reported on the opera with disdain, describing rudimentary scenery, endless and uninteresting plots, inattentive audiences, ear-splitting percussion, and screeching string sounds. The costumes were the sole element consistently praised.

By the 1890s other Asian immigrants had begun to seek their fortunes in California-particularly the Japanese, who years earlier had established a large community in Hawaii. Near the end of the century, thousands of Japanese began coming to the mainland; many of them chose to work as farmers. In 1890 there were only 2,039 Japanese on the U.S. mainland; two decades later there were more than 72,000. Among these, 4,500 lived in San Francisco, about half the number of Chinese residents in the city in the same year. Unlike most other immigrants from either Europe or Asia, the Japanese tended to be highly educated (the Japanese government screened its emigrants to assure that they would represent their country well in their new homes), and at least some of them sympathized with the white vilification of the Chinese. They also brought their families, in contrast to the overwhelmingly male Chinese population.

A fortune could be made (and quickly lost) in San Francisco through gold and, later, silver mining and its related industries-as well as through enterprising business dealings, the most visible of which was the transcontinental railroad. The Big Four railroad entrepreneurs-Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker-made big money and built big houses on Nob Hill (derisively dubbed Snob Hill by the less fortunate). Their descendants, in many cases, also became big supporters of the arts.

The railroad, of course, brought other, less affluent newcomers. African Americans, who found employment as porters on the trains (one of the few jobs available to them in this openly racist industry) settled in large numbers in Oakland, the line's terminus. The black population of San Francisco itself, however, remained small (less than 1 percent) until the early 1940s. The Oakland jazz scene, on the other hand, gained a rich history from the activities of this community. Discriminatory practices in the American Federation of Labor led black musicians to organize a separate "colored local" in the 1920s, covering the San Francisco and East Bay areas. Tensions with the far larger white local erupted during the next decade in a bitter legal battle.

These (and other) ethnic communities rubbed shoulders uneasily in a small geographical area: The city's outward expansion was contained by water on three sides, and its internal development was challenged by steep hills in the east and sand dunes in the west (Map 1). The rich and the poor lived almost within arm's length of one another. From the mansions of the Big Four atop Nob Hill to the heart of Chinatown is less than a half mile (nearly straight down).

Adjoining Chinatown on the north and east and stretching to the waterfront was the Barbary Coast, a shabby area of high crime, prostitution, gambling, general debauchery, and lively music. Pacific Street, its most active area, was, for the most part, "a solid mass of dance-halls, melodeons, cheap groggeries, wine and beer dens, which were popularly known as deadfalls; and concert saloons, which offered both dancing and entertainment." At the turn of the century this area was the toughest in town. Murders were commonplace, and saloons dominated the landscape. In 1890 alone, the city issued 3,117 liquor licenses (one for every ninety-six residents), and many other establishments served alcoholic beverages illegally. Some of the more reputable places, such as the Bella Union, offered low-brow variety shows, and a few performers who appeared there, such as Lotta Crabtree, later established stage careers. Featured artists near the end of the century included the original Little Egypt from the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and Big Bertha, "a sprightly lass of two hundred and eighty pounds who sang sentimental ballads in a squeaky soprano." Big Bertha achieved renown in the mid-1880s as "a singer who couldn't sing ... and an actress who couldn't act." Her acting work, indeed, was "so remarkably bad that she attracted audiences from all over San Francisco and brought to the Bella Union and the Barbary Coast hundreds of citizens who had never visited the quarter before and never did again." Prostitution was rampant and tolerated by authorities; in fact, one place that operated a lively flesh trade from 1904 to 1907 was dubbed the "municipal crib": patronized by a number of upstanding citizens, it offered sizeable kickbacks to city officials. Chinatown and the Barbary Coast shared close access to Portsmouth Square, an open area at Kearny and Washington Streets that was the center of San Francisco's life in the city's earliest years and continues today to serve as a recreational park for Chinatown residents.

San Francisco in 1900 boasted an ethnic diversity remarkable to its visitors, but religiously and politically the city would hardly be recognizable to today's inhabitants: it was predominantly Catholic and Republican. The clamor of its political infighting, the outspoken independence of its residents, and the unbridled candor of its various factions were as apparent then as they are now, but the city's current reputation as a standard-bearer of the U.S. Left was hardly in evidence. There was, of course, a vocal liberal contingent, but there was also rampant racism, particularly directed toward the Chinese. The depression of 1873-78 spawned the Workingmen's Party of California (WPC), headed by Irish immigrant Denis Kearney. As part of its platform, the party promulgated a simpleminded, provocative, and contentious slogan: "The Chinese must go!" It even managed to elect a mayor, Isaac Kalloch, who served one two-year term (1879-81). By 1881, the WPC was largely defunct, but its racist message was not. Passage of the national Exclusion Act of 1882-directed at the Chinese and prompted by racist agitation in California-forbade entry of Chinese laborers into the United States for ten years and set restrictions on reentry for those who had returned to Asia. (The new California constitution, adopted two years earlier, had contained even more severe anti-Chinese provisions, declaring the Chinese dangerous to the well-being of the state, forbidding their employment by corporations and on public works projects, and excluding them from land ownership.) The national law, which was repeatedly extended, and whose restrictions were tightened before its ultimate repeal in 1943, effectively ended the massive influx of Chinese to San Francisco. The city's Chinese population peaked in 1890 at 25,833. By 1900 it had dropped by almost half, to 13,954, and it continued to decline for the next twenty years.

Aside from the overwhelming disdain directed at the Chinese, San Francisco otherwise heralded labor. Indeed, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the city was truly a union town. Its musicians, like workers in other professions, began organizing as early as 1869; a branch of the National League of Musicians (NLM), precursor to the present-day American Federation of Musicians (AFM), was established in 1886; and when the AFM was founded as an affiliate of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1896, San Francisco musicians were among the first to join. AFM Local No. 6 dates from 1897.

In 1901 a massive waterfront strike closed the port of San Francisco for two months, prompted by a conflict between the newly founded Teamsters National Union and the Draymen's Association. Furious at Democratic mayor James Phelan's support for the employers, and disaffected as well by the Republicans, who were beholden to the railroad and business interests, organized labor decided to found its own political entity: the Union Labor Party. On a platform of radical labor policy (including public ownership of utilities) and reactionary social views (notably the exclusion of Asians), the ULP succeeded in electing a mayor, Eugene Schmitz, in 1901.

Schmitz was the president of the local musicians' union. A violinist and theater musician, he had also tried his hand at composition. The city's musicians turned out in force to celebrate his victory: Local 6 members marched at the heads of parades, and "whole orchestras joined them as soon as evening performances ended at the theaters." The choice of Schmitz for mayor was an odd one from the standpoint of the traditional blue-collar union contingent: many of them saw the musicians as an elitist group unwilling to get its hands dirty. Among the broader public voter base, however, Schmitz's nomination was a brilliant move. It was engineered by a smart, ambitious, and unscrupulous lawyer and Republican party operative named Abraham Ruef, who had graduated from the University of California and held a law degree from its Hastings College. "Handsome Gene" Schmitz-who had no prior political experience-cut an attractive figure, articulated the ULP's platform with eloquence, and marshaled, through his mother's ethnic background, the support of the city's ninety-five thousand Irish Catholics. Unfortunately, his six years as mayor (spanning the devastating quake of 1906) were marked by rampant graft. During Schmitz's three terms, Ruef found his way onto the regular payroll of most important corporations doing business with the city. (He was paid as a legal consultant, allowing him later to justify outrageously large attorney fees.) He split his "fees" with Schmitz and the members of the board of supervisors. Schmitz himself was not blameless; but Ruef appears to have been the propulsive force behind the escalating graft. (Some historians, however, have argued that Ruef's crimes were no worse than those of officials in other cities at the time.)

San Francisco's factionalism was fueled by a boisterous and sensationalistic press. At the turn of the century, five major dailies dominated the newspaper scene. Three vied for the morning readership: the Chronicle, the Examiner, and the Call. The Call was the oldest of them, founded by James Joseph Ayers and partners in 1856. John D. Spreckels, eldest son of industrialist Claus (who established the Spreckels Sugar Company), bought the paper in 1897.

The Chronicle began life in January 1865 as a theatrical promotional sheet; the Daily Dramatic Chronicle was founded by Charles de Young and his two younger brothers, sons of a Dutch Jewish family from Saint Louis. By 1869, the paper, now called the Daily Morning Chronicle, boasted a circulation of sixteen thousand, stimulated by its blatant, tactless, and frequently unsubstantiated reports of scandalous gossip. Charles thrived on such controversy. By 1871 he had been sued for libel a dozen times and physically assaulted by two irate judges. At first, Charles supported the Workingmen's Party, but he became disaffected with the group after it failed to back his efforts to form his own New Constitution Party-with himself as party boss. After the WPC nominated Isaac Kalloch for mayor in 1879, Charles launched a barrage of anti-Kalloch propaganda, digging up a twenty-two-year-old trial in Boston in which Kalloch faced charges of adultery (but which ended in a hung jury). Kalloch, minister of San Francisco's enormous Baptist Metropolitan Temple, had for years fended off accusations of debauchery. He returned the verbal abuse in kind from his pulpit-adding to it an inflammatory accusation that de Young's mother was a prostitute-prompting de Young to shoot him at point-blank range on August 23, 1879. Kalloch miraculously survived, despite two bullet wounds (one in the chest), and he won the sympathy (and the votes) of the populace: in the mayoral election of September 3, he defeated his Republican challenger by 519 votes. Seven months later, Kalloch's son returned de Young's favor, fatally shooting the editor in his office. Milton Kalloch was acquitted in the subsequent trial. After this Wild West drama, Michael (M.H.) de Young took charge of "a somewhat chastened" Chronicle, remaining at its helm for the next forty-five years. (His name lives on in San Francisco's cultural life in the form of the de Young museum in Golden Gate Park.)

The Examiner was founded in June 1865 on the ruins of the Daily Democratic Press, a short-lived pro-Confederacy publication that folded in the wake of Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Mining entrepreneur George Hearst (later a U.S. senator) bought the Examiner in 1880 and seven years later gave it to his son, William Randolph, whose parlaying of the paper into a national chain of sensationalistic rags and subsequent rise to fame and fortune are legendary. Hearst's elegant mansion near Santa Barbara, with its priceless collection of art and furnishings, continues to attract thousands of visitors a year.

The evening newspaper audience was dominated by the San Francisco Bulletin, founded in 1855 and boasting, in the early years of the twentieth century, an activist managing editor, Fremont Older, who strenuously crusaded against the graft-ridden Schmitz administration. The Bulletin competed with the smaller evening Post, controlled by Patrick Calhoun, grandson of John Calhoun, the former South Carolina senator and U.S. vice president who openly advocated for the preservation-and expansion-of slavery. Patrick Calhoun was president of United Railroads, the company that controlled San Francisco's cable-car and streetcar system.

Among the other periodicals in the city was the weekly Argonaut, founded in 1877 and featuring critical arts coverage. Various foreign language papers, too, attracted a local readership. The Oriental (Zhongxi hui bao), for instance, was one of the first Chinese language papers in the country. Other ethnic communities had their own papers: Two that figure prominently in San Francisco's musical life targeted Italian residents: L'Italia, edited by Ettore Patrizi, and La Voce del Popolo, edited by Ottorino Ronchi. Of particular interest to the present study is the weekly Pacific Coast Musical Review (PCMR), founded in the early years of the century. From 1907 to 1924 the PCMR published every Saturday; it then continued less frequently (and increasingly irregularly) up to 1931. Its editor, Alfred Metzger, tried to document all of the classical music concerts in the city-and evaluate the majority of them. His (nonindexed) publication is thus a treasure trove of information, providing a portrait, during more than a quarter century, of the classical music scene.

San Francisco experienced exponential growth during its first fifty years-growing from about 500 inhabitants in 1847 to 342,782 in 1900-unrestricted by any coherent urban planning. Although largely unremarkable architecturally in this early period, the city could boast a few notable landmarks. Among the most prominent was a new ferry building, celebrating San Francisco's most important business: shipping. Designed by local architect Arthur Page Brown (but not completed until after his tragic death at age thirty-six in 1896), the ferry building opened in 1898. With its impressive clock tower, inspired by the Giralda bell tower in Seville, Spain, the ferry building still stands proudly at the base of Market Street, a 120-foot-wide thoroughfare that sweeps diagonally from the waterfront through the heart of the city's commercial center (see Map 2).

Proceeding down Market, away from the harbor, a visitor in the early years of the century would soon encounter the eleven-story flatiron Crocker Building, also designed by Brown, which distinctively marked the intersection of Market, Post, and Montgomery. Just ahead on the left was (and still is) the massive Palace Hotel, completed in 1875 at a cost of about $5 million. Seven stories high, with 755 rooms (most with fifteen-foot ceilings), and potentially accommodating twelve hundred guests, the Palace, upon its completion, projected an image of ostentatious overabundance in a town that Oscar Lewis and Carroll Hall characterize as "crude, noisy, unkempt, ... its streets lined with buildings reflecting the worst features of the debased architectural taste of the period." Indeed, photos taken at the time show the Palace to be the biggest structure in downtown, completely overshadowing anything around it. The prequake hotel featured a famous Grand Court (84 by 144 feet) covered by a skylight-originally a carriage entrance, but converted around the turn of the century into a luxurious lobby. Colonnaded balconies beneath this glass roof offered guests stunning views of the lobby's opulent furniture and oversized potted palms. (Figure 1 shows the Palm Court in the lobby as well as several stories of rooms and balconies.) Reinforcing iron rods built into the Palace's two-foot-thick brick walls protected the building from earthquakes, and a private water supply promised to forestall any possible damage by fire. A series of artesian wells with a capacity of 28,000 gallons per hour were drilled on the site, and a storage reservoir in the subbasement held 630,000 gallons of water. Another 130,000 gallons was held in seven tanks on the roof. Pumps in the basement, twenty thousand feet of fire hose, and five miles of pipe assured distribution of water throughout the building-a reflection of San Francisco's many fires in its early years. The Palace proudly housed visiting nobility, including famous stars of opera and theater. Adelina Patti stayed there in 1884 and Sarah Bernhardt in 1887, Ignacy Paderewski in 1896, and Enrico Caruso in 1905 and 1906.

Nearly across the street from the Palace, at the intersection of Market, Kearny, Geary, and Third, was Lotta's Fountain, donated to the city by actress-singer Lotta Crabtree and erected in the same year that the Palace opened. At that same intersection-dubbed "newspaper corner"-rose the tallest building in the city, the 315-foot Call tower, erected by John Spreckels in 1896 and adorned at the time with an ornate dome and four eight-sided corner turrets. The striking Chronicle building (begun in 1889 and completed in June 1890), with its distinctive clock tower, stood across the street; heralded as earthquake- and fireproof, the building was the first steel-framed skyscraper in the city. The more modest Hearst Building, housing the Examiner, was on the other side of Market.

A block south-on Mission, between Third and Fourth-stood the Grand Opera House, which accommodated nearly four thousand patrons. The theater's location proved highly convenient for visiting opera stars staying nearby at the Palace. Formerly called Wade's Opera House (1873-76) and renamed the Grand in 1876, the theater was one of the largest opera houses in the country but, like the Palace, was too big for its locale. The Grand paid for itself only toward the end of its life, when it featured melodrama.

About eight blocks farther from the wharves, Market Street intersects Van Ness Avenue at an angle of about forty-five degrees (see Map 2). Van Ness, at that time the site of numerous luxurious mansions, constitutes the main thoroughfare from downtown to Fort Mason at the entrance to the San Francisco Bay. Near this intersection, on a triangle of land bounded by McAllister, Larkin, and the no-longer-existing City Hall Avenue, stood San Francisco's brand new city hall (Figure 2). The building's cornerstone had been laid on February 22, 1872, but (in typical San Francisco fashion) political wrangling and graft delayed its construction for more than a quarter century. The completed building, designed by Augustus Laver but modified by "numerous profiteering 'builders,'" featured an ostentatious dome that was dedicated on July 12, 1897, with two concerts of "high-class music." A thirty-piece orchestra performed excerpts from operas by Bizet, Gounod, Wagner, and others. Even then the building's woes did not end: unfinished interiors, roof leaks, and a small fire delayed its completion until the turn of the century. The total cost for the structure, when it was finally finished, was $5,723,000.

West of Van Ness is the area called the Western Addition, inhabited in this era by an eclectic mix of racial groups and professional interests (see Map 1). Except in the case of the Chinese, residential segregation in San Francisco was rare, and many blacks moved into this part of the city during the 1920s. By 1930 this one-square-mile area-which later hosted the postwar, jazz-rich Fillmore district-"became the hub of black life." Farther west is the thousand-acre, rectangular Golden Gate Park, begun during the 1870s on "outside lands" composed of sand dunes. The Midwinter International Exhibition of 1894 destroyed a large portion of the newly developed park, despite the strenuous opposition of conservationists, but the area was subsequently restored and today hosts museums (including the de Young), the music concourse, and the ever-popular Japanese Tea Garden, whose caretaker during the 1894 fair, Makoto Hagiwara, invented the so-called Chinese fortune cookie.

The Three Days That Changed San Francisco

In the wee hours of the morning of April 16, 1906, more than two hundred members of New York's Metropolitan Opera Company arrived in San Francisco as part of a cross-country tour. They took up residence at the city's luxury hotels, many of them at the Palace, including conductor Alfred Hertz, business manager Ernest Goerlitz, and famed Italian tenor Enrico Caruso. The trip was the Met's fourth visit to San Francisco since the beginning of the century. A three-week season in November 1900 had been followed by a thirty-performance extravaganza the following fall. The 1905 season was shorter, but proved extremely lucrative: the ten-day residency generated a record-breaking income of nearly $120,000 (equivalent to about $2.6 million in 2010). Indeed, San Francisco had developed a reputation as "the best grand opera city in the United States outside of New York," and the 1905 season held two tantalizing attractions. One was Caruso, who had made his debut with the Met only sixteen months earlier. The second was Parsifal, which had had its U.S. stage premiere in New York on Christmas Eve 1903, conducted by Hertz. Parsifal was featured in every city except Salt Lake on the Met's sixteen-city 1905 tour. The company's stop in San Francisco was the longest in any town, and only there was the opera performed three times, with packed houses. Hertz again conducted.

Given this illustrious history, the return of the Met (and Caruso) in 1906 generated great excitement. The Metropolitan Opera Company local manager predicted that the season "would go on record as the most brilliant occasion of the kind ever known on the Pacific Coast," and reviews of the opening performance on Monday night, April 16, not only dealt with the music but also provided a detailed listing of the occupants of the boxes, caricatures of some of the wealthy patrons, and descriptions of the gowns of about a hundred women of the "smart set." Reviews of the music were far less enthusiastic. Ashton Stevens in the Examiner was particularly harsh: he liked the sets and ensembles, but found Hertz's conducting "heavy-handed" and suggested that Karl Goldmark's Die Königin von Saba (The Queen of Sheba) was the "wrong opera and wrong singers," an ill-chosen opener that failed to feature the company's famous stars. Peter Robertson in the Chronicle was somewhat kinder; he found Hertz "effective," but disparaged Goldmark: "Whatever the subtle something in music is that seizes and arouses our excitement, Goldmark's 'The Queen of Sheba' has not got it." No matter, though. The Goldmark performance was simply a warm-up for the next night's sold-out production of Carmen, featuring Olive Fremstad in the title role and Caruso as Don José. (Caruso had sung the role for the first time only two months earlier in Philadelphia.) Slated for later in the week were a series of productions sure to draw record crowds: on Wednesday, Figaro in the afternoon and Lohengrin in the evening (Hertz again conducting); on Thursday, La bohème (again with Caruso); on Friday, Die Walküre; and on Saturday, a grand finale featuring a double bill in the afternoon-Don Pasquale and Hansel and Gretel-and Faust in the evening.

Carmen, by all reports, was a triumph, though it was Caruso, not Fremstad, who made the headlines. The leading lady elicited decidedly lukewarm reviews. Critics judged her intelligent, but stiff, "dutchy," nonseductive, and temperamentally unsuited to the role. Furthermore, they compared her unfavorably to others who had previously sung Carmen in San Francisco. In contrast, they raved about Caruso: "It did not seem possible to put anything new into Don Jose ... but Caruso did it," thrilling the audience with his "effortless art" and "dramatic fire." Blanche Partington summed up the prevailing sentiment about the unchallenged hero of the evening: "He made one forget that it was only an opera."

In the audience that night were several singers from the University of California's Glee Club and its pianist, Albert Elkus, who would later head the university's music department. The group had been in Santa Rosa (north of San Francisco, in Sonoma County) during the spring break. "They were to have performed that night at the hotel where they were to have spent the night," recalls Elkus's son Jonathan, "but everyone wanted to go to San Francisco to hear Caruso and Fremstad-and Carmen itself, which was but thirty years old at the time and still vivid. The Glee Club persuaded the management to announce the concert for that afternoon [instead], which it did, freeing the Cal boys to take the late afternoon train and the Sausalito ferry to San Francisco. After Carmen, Albert proceeded to an uncle's house in Oakland. A few hours later the hotel in Santa Rosa collapsed," with numerous fatalities."

Indeed, at 5:12 A.M. on Wednesday, April 18, San Francisco residents were shaken awake first by a foreshock and then, about twenty seconds later, by a massive earthquake that lasted for nearly a minute. Amazingly, although the tall buildings in the downtown area waved "like trees in a storm," their tops "nodding good morning to each other," most of them survived, with considerable interior damage, but structurally intact. Terrified guests at the Palace hid under covers, rolled under beds, braced themselves under door lintels, or grabbed frantically on to anything that could offer protection. As soon as the shaking stopped, they ran out of their rooms in their nightclothes. Alfred Hertz, who had been awakened by a pitcher of ice water falling on his head and then had watched an upright piano and a wardrobe trunk converge on his bed from opposite sides of the room, stumbled down the Palace Hotel's fire escape into the lobby, which was littered with broken shards from its shattered glass canopy. "The spectacle it presented was amazing," reported O.M. Nichols, a commercial traveler from New York. "All the potted plants that had adorned the balustrade had been shaken down and smashed on the pavement of the courtyard. In the court itself, and in the halls and corridors, were hundreds of guests in the skimpiest of raiment, many of them sobbing or screaming."

Everyone seemed to have a story about Caruso, who embraced Hertz "hysterically, and, crying like a child, repeatedly insisted that [they were] doomed and all were about to die." A.W. Benson, another hotel guest, recalled that "in the halls and corridors and down the stairways[,] people were leaping and galloping in a frenzy of terror"; the stairways were covered with plaster, their boards torn loose. Caruso "was running about in the scantiest of attire, shouting excitedly and twirling at his moustache with unconscious nervousness." Josephine Jacoby, who had sung in Carmen the previous night, described the tenor as tearing "about in a frantic state, rejecting all attempts at consolation."

Locals, who had survived numerous quakes-including several small ones in 1903 and two stronger ones in 1905-seemed unperturbed. Hertz watched a Chinese employee of the Palace calmly clean glass fragments from the easy chairs and carpets in the lobby, as if the quake "were a daily occurrence." After the first shock subsided, most of the guests struggled back to their rooms to dress. "Great chasms had opened in the stairways and seemed to yawn at us," recalled Benson. "These we had to crawl across or jump over; and all the time we had the apprehension that the quake would start again and the whole building would come tumbling over our heads."

Outside, the streets were littered with fallen masonry, trolley tracks were twisted into bizarre shapes, and gaping holes trapped unsuspecting animals loosed from their pens. Three days later, a visitor from Nebraska remembered the pitiful scene of cattle and horses "swallowed in a gap made by the earthquake," and then trapped by a fallen wall. Newspaperman Frank Louis Ames remembered "electric wires ... on the pavements, spitting blue flames and writhing like snakes. I saw a fire team run into one, which tangled about one of the horses' legs. The horse fell and then his mate went down[;] both were electrocuted in an instant."

In a ten-page (unpublished) reminiscence, Goerlitz, the Met's manager, recounted his frantic (and ultimately successful) efforts to track down the two-hundred-plus members of the opera company over the next two days. In the immediate aftermath of the quake, Goerlitz found his way back to his room and tried to wash up, "but only an ink-like fluid flowed from the faucets." After dressing, he made his way through the treacherous streets, where "bricks and cornices were still falling promiscuously," first to the St. Francis Hotel to check on other opera personnel, and then to the Grand Opera House. To his amazement, Goerlitz found the hall almost untouched: "The marble tiling around the lobby was somewhat disarranged and a little mortar from the ceiling lay on the floor; otherwise the fine large lobby showed no signs of destruction. I looked into the Auditorium, and as far as I could notice in the dim light, all orchestra chairs looked perfectly clean and the ceiling, curtain and proscenium perfectly intact."

At first Goerlitz thought that the Figaro matinee could proceed as planned, but then wisely decided to cancel it. Ominously, as he returned to the Palace to organize the company for the rest of the performances, he spotted fires in the distance. The Met singers transferred their trunks to the basement of the St. Francis (thought to be a safer location) and set up Union Square as a meeting place.

The fires that ultimately consumed the heart of San Francisco erupted simultaneously at numerous locations during the early morning. More than fifty initial blazes ignited from overturned stoves, ruptured gas mains, and broken electrical wires. The fire department turned out in force, but found most of the hydrants dry. Three outlying major reservoirs and nine smaller distribution reservoirs had withstood the quake and potentially held enough water to combat the blazes. In many cases, however, they were rendered nearly useless by the rupture of smaller distribution lines feeding thousands of service pipes. About 300 distribution mains and 23,200 connecting pipes simply shattered from the land displacement. In the downtown area, brittle iron pipes had been buried in spongy soil. These low-lying areas, which had been part of the bay a half century earlier, had been filled with sand, earth, and even garbage to create buildable lots. When the quake struck, the unstable landfill shook like jelly and, in some cases, liquefied and sank as much as four or five feet. The iron pipes shattered, unleashing their water into the soil or in useless water jets that dowsed areas where the water was not needed. Smaller reservoirs quickly emptied as a result.

Exacerbating the firefighters' predicament was the heat of the flames, which, at temperatures of up to two thousand degrees, scorched the hoses, turning what little water there was into steam. Efforts to pump water from the bay over the next two days were hampered not only by logistical inconveniences and broken hoses, but also by mismatched couplings (a result of differing federal and municipal standards) that thwarted attempts at creating usable connections. By 9 A.M. on the morning of the quake, the fire department, in desperation, began using explosives to create firebreaks. Through inexperience, ignorance, and simple ineptitude, these efforts for the most part spread the fires more widely. With dynamite in short supply, the firemen turned to gunpowder-and often ignited woodwork in the process. Inexperienced workers placed explosives in unwise locations, blasted the wrong sides of walls, accidentally set wooden buildings ablaze instead of collapsing them, and generally acted without any coherent or informed plan.

By 9:30 the opera house had burned to the ground. By 11 the fire had reached Market Street, and the Call building was engulfed in flames. The Examiner's offices, housed in a flimsier structure, had collapsed in the initial temblor. The Chronicle building withstood the quake, but, despite being heralded in 1889 as the "only absolutely fire-proof structure on the coast," it too succumbed to the inferno. The Palace, on the other hand, had its own water supply, and its employees began hosing down the building to protect it from the approaching conflagration. James Byrne, later one of the founders of the city's symphony, was staying at the Palace at the time and reported on the ultimately futile attempts by the hotel staff to fend off the flames. "The heat on the fire escapes was at times terrific," he wrote, "and the boys were often compelled to hold an arm up to protect their faces while trying to manage the hose with only one hand. Nevertheless they stuck to their job manfully, and they fought off the fires on the west and south sides of the hotel so successfully that it seemed to me at this time,-I suppose it was somewhere about 9:30 o'clock,-that no menace to the Palace any longer existed."

While the other buildings in the area burned uncontrollably, the Palace, by late morning, was still 92 percent intact. By early afternoon, however, the fire department had attached its own hoses to the Palace's hydrants, and the army (which had arrived in force to maintain order in the increasingly chaotic city) commandeered the basement reservoir in an effort to save the mint. (It survived.) Deprived of protection, the Palace caught on fire, and by the end of the day this magnificent altar to opulence was in complete ruin.

Mechanics' Pavilion, near the city hall, was at first used as an infirmary. By the afternoon, however, it too was threatened and all patients were evacuated. The building caught on fire soon after. San Francisco's new city hall, so long in the planning and construction, and inaugurated with such fanfare only nine years earlier, was reduced to ruin, its ostentatious spire collapsed into rubble (Figure 3).

In the crowded areas around Portsmouth Square, bedlam reigned. "The panic was indescribable," wrote Charles Morris, a Pennsylvania writer who arrived in San Francisco soon after the quake and published one of the first balanced accounts of events, which he assembled from eyewitness reports, most of them dependable, a few utterly fantastic. Reflecting the racism pervasive in the city, Morris portrayed the Chinese as rushing into the square "from their underground burrows like so many rats ... , trembling in terror ... , and seeking by beating gongs and other noise-making instruments to scare off the underground demons." On the other side of the square lived "thousands of Italians, Spaniards and Mexicans, while close at hand lived the riff-raff of the 'Barbary Coast.' Seemingly the whole of these rushed for that one square of open ground, the two streams meeting in the centre of the square and heaping up on its edges. There they squabbled and fought in the madness of panic and despair, as so many mad wolves might have fought when caught in the red whirl of a prairie fire, until the soldiers broke in and at the bayonet's point brought some semblance of order out of the confusion of panic terror."

Opera impresario Fortune Gallo, who was resident in the city at the time, provides a strikingly contradictory account. "The San Francisco Chinese came plodding out of their flats and houses, dragging trunks, baby carriages, furniture of all descriptions with them," Gallo recalled. "There was no panic, no wild wailing, no hysteria. There was about them a sort of fatalistic calm acceptance of their lot."

Gallo's image of trunks appears frequently in other eyewitness reports as well. Jack London, who lived forty miles from San Francisco, arrived in the city that first evening to prepare a report for Collier's. "Throughout the night," he wrote,

fled tens of thousands of homeless ones. Some were wrapped in blankets, others carried bundles of bedding and dear household treasures.... Baby buggies, toy wagons, and go-cars were used as trucks, while every other person was dragging a trunk. Yet ... the most perfect courtesy obtained. Never, in all San Francisco's history, were her people so kind and courteous as on this night of terror.

All night these tens of thousands fled before the flames. Many of them, the poor people from the labor ghetto, had fled all day as well. They held on longest to their trunks, and over these trunks many a strong man broke his heart that night.... Before the march of the flames were flung picket lines of soldiers. And a block at a time, as the flames advanced, these pickets retreated. One of their tasks was to keep the trunk-pullers moving. The exhausted creatures, stirred on by the menace of bayonets, would arise and struggle up the steep pavements, pausing from weakness every five or ten feet.

Residents from all parts of the city headed for the ferries, which the Southern Pacific operated without charge. Others took refuge in the open spaces of Golden Gate Park, far to the west of the ravaging flames, where a makeshift tent city offered a modicum of protection and privacy, and where people from diverse social classes-united in a single body of the homeless-mingled in uncommon bonds of mutual sympathy.

Those with some money were only slightly better off. Alfred Hertz managed to hire a buggy to Golden Gate Park that first day: "We had to pass through streets where, on both sides, houses were burning and the heat was almost unbearable." He spent the night squeezed with other refugees in an abandoned streetcar, kept awake by the "sirens, the blowing of horns of automobiles policing the streets, the constant firing of guns and the continuous dynamiting of buildings." The following day Hertz found his way to the Presidio. There he discovered Caruso, who had been brandishing a signed photograph of Theodore Roosevelt in an attempt to bypass the riffraff and secure favored treatment from military and police officials. The tenor, by most reports, was dazed and bewildered, but he joked with Gallo, saying he hoped his voice had not set off the quake. The previous morning, photographer Arnold Genthe had seen Caruso near the entrance to the St. Francis Hotel "with a fur coat over his pajamas, smoking a cigarette and muttering ... '{apos}Ell of a place! I never come back here.'" Both he and Hertz managed to board a ferry for Oakland, where they found Goerlitz and most of the opera company. The manager himself crossed to and from the burning city by ferry until he had accounted for all members of the troupe and assured their arrival in the East Bay. Through the cooperation of the railroad, the Met's special train, with its eight Pullman cars, dining car, and baggage cars, left Oakland on Friday, April 20, and arrived in New York six days later. The company and its artists lost nearly everything but their lives. Out of about five hundred trunks, only thirty were recovered. Heinrich Conried, the Met's director, settled with the artists and orchestra members for about a quarter of a million dollars (equivalent to about $6 million in 2010). Scenery, costumes, properties, and music for nineteen operas had been destroyed. Caruso, true to his word, never returned to San Francisco. Hertz too, one would imagine, had by now seen quite enough of the Paris of the West. His reaction, however, was the opposite. Moved by the spirit of the people and the beauty of the landscape, he became, nine years later, the symphony's second conductor.

Most of San Francisco's society crowd left the city more comfortably than had the walking masses heading for the bay or the homeless refugees seeking shelter in Golden Gate Park. Many of the rich drove or hired buggies that took them southward down the peninsula to vacation estates or the homes of relatives. Others crossed northward into Marin County by ferry across the Golden Gate. Though the fire department tried to save the mansions of Nob Hill, by Thursday morning (the day after the quake) the Stanford mansion and the multi-million-dollar Hopkins house ("San Francisco's first cultural center held in trust by the University of California for the San Francisco Art Institute") were ablaze. Both were ultimately destroyed.

On Thursday, a decision was made to blow up residences along Van Ness Avenue, a street wide enough to serve as a firebreak and thus prevent the flames from engulfing the western part of the city. This drastic action, coupled with a change in wind direction, halted the fire's westward trek and marked the major turning point in the battle against the blaze. New outbreaks on Friday were more easily quelled, and by Saturday morning the fires had been extinguished. Then a cold driving rain drenched the city, arriving too late to help the firefighters, but adding to the misery of the homeless. That night on Broderick Street near Golden Gate Park, Charles Morris witnessed an incident that reflected the city's indomitable spirit:

It was nigh ten o-clock and the stars were shining after the rain. Fires gleamed up and down through the shrubbery[,] and the refugees sat huddled together about the flames, with their blankets about their heads, Apache-like, in an effort to dry out after the wetting of the afternoon. [A] piano, dripping with moisture, stood on the curb, near the front of a cottage which had been wrecked by the earthquake.

A youth with a shock of red hair sat on a cracker box and pecked at the ivories. "Home Ain't Nothing Like This" was thrummed from the rusting wires with true vaudeville dash and syncopation. "Bill Bailey," "Good Old Summer Time," "Dixie" and "In Toyland" followed.

Three young men with handkerchiefs wrapped about their throats in lieu of collars stood near the pianist and with him lifted up their voices in melody. The harmony was execrable, the time without excuse, but the songs ran through the trees of the Panhandle, and the crows, forgetting their misery for a time, joined the strange chorus.

Out of the Ruins

The three disastrous days sparked by one minute of terror on the morning of April 18, 1906, marked a watershed in San Francisco's political, social, and cultural history. With 4.7 square miles of the city center in ruins, the town's utilities disabled, its financial institutions dysfunctional, its political infrastructure discredited by graft, its cultural institutions deprived of their homes, and its inhabitants scattered to Oakland, to Marin, to the peninsula, and to refugee camps in Golden Gate Park and the Presidio, San Francisco was in sorry shape indeed.

Aid poured in from around the globe. Provisions arrived almost immediately by train from Los Angeles and the Pacific Northwest. The federal government appropriated $1 million, which was then more than doubled within a week of the disaster. Funds from sympathizers across the country broke all previous records of relief support. Within three days, more than $5 million had been donated; within ten days the figure had risen to $18 million. John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie gave a hundred thousand dollars each, which was then doubled by their respective oil and steel companies. E.H. Harrison, president of the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific Railroads, donated two hundred thousand dollars and ordered that all trains to San Francisco be granted priority. Foreign governments and individuals contributed as well. A fund was set up in London. Contributions from the Japanese alone amounted to a quarter million dollars.

And so, with astonishing rapidity, the city began to effect a rejuvenation. The Spring Valley Water Company enlisted a thousand workers to repair the water pipes. Within a week, trolley cars were running, and electricity and phone service were partially restored. Temporary housing was erected in Golden Gate Park. Five days after the fires had been extinguished, Amadeo Peter Giannini opened a makeshift office of his tiny Bank of Italy at his brother's home on Van Ness Avenue and another "on a plank laid over two barrels on the Washington Street wharf." Giannini had managed to remove eighty thousand dollars in cash from his bank on the day of the quake, surreptitiously transporting the money in two produce wagons to San Mateo and then stashing it in the ash trap of a nonfunctioning fireplace. Within a week of the calamity, Giannini was providing much-needed banking services and helping to underwrite the city's reconstruction. Over the next twenty years, the Bank of Italy would grow into the third-largest bank in the country; in 1929 it became the Bank of America.

Typically, some unprincipled businessmen took advantage of the confusion in the immediate aftermath of the disaster to push through personally advantageous financial deals. Patrick Calhoun's United Railroads managed to obtain the authorization it had long been seeking to install overhead trolley lines, a solution to San Francisco's mishmash of trolley, cable-car, steam, and horse-drawn conveyances that was less costly, but far more unsightly, than the alternative strongly advocated by Calhoun's competitors-burying cables in underground conduits. Home Telephone Company managed to obtain a franchise to compete with Pacific States Telephone and Telegraph in a May 5 meeting whose location was announced only two hours in advance via a sign posted on the still-smoldering city hall. Substantial bribes (some amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars), paid to Ruef as attorney fees and then distributed by him (in the best tradition of the Schmitz administration) to the mayor and the members of the board of supervisors, assured quick passage of the these and other ordinances favoring "cooperating" businesses.

A newly energized citizenry, spurred by a zealous press and an even more zealous prosecution team (whose funding was guaranteed to the tune of one hundred thousand dollars by Rudolph Spreckels, brother of John and disaffected son of Claus), now began to clamor for an ethical cleanup of city hall. On June 13, 1907, Eugene Schmitz was convicted of extortion and sentenced to five years in San Quentin Prison, thus leaving the mayor's office vacant. His successor was Edward Robeson Taylor, a lawyer and physician. The following January, Schmitz's conviction was overturned on appeal. Brought to trial on additional charges four years later, he was acquitted, and, remarkably, he ran for mayor again in 1915. This time he was defeated. Meanwhile, Schmitz continued to work as a musician. In 1912 he composed music for an opera, Lily of Poverty Flat (later renamed The Maid of San Joaquin), with a libretto by his lawyer Frank C. Drew. According to Schmitz's obituary, it was performed in New York without success. In 1917 and again in the 1920s, Schmitz managed to reenter politics by winning a seat on the board of supervisors.

Abe Ruef was not so fortunate. Following confessions from members of the board of supervisors (who were granted immunity in exchange for turning state's witnesses); extraordinary pressure by prosecutors (they held Ruef in captivity, exhausted him with repeated visits, and elicited remorse by an appeal from his sick mother); a feeding frenzy by the press; threats against Ruef's lawyers; the granting and then rescinding of partial immunity; and a near-fatal shooting of Assistant D.A. Francis J. Heney by a disenfranchised juror (who killed himself in jail the next day), Ruef was convicted on December 10, 1908, of bribing a member of the board of supervisors and sentenced to fourteen years in San Quentin Prison. Unlike Schmitz's appeals, Ruef's were unsuccessful, and he began serving his sentence in 1911. His nemesis, Fremont Older (the crusading editor of the Bulletin who had helped orchestrate his downfall), ultimately turned into Ruef's champion. Appalled by the severity of Ruef's punishment compared to the leniency accorded to his partners in crime (Schmitz, the supervisors, and the corporate bribers), Older began to campaign loudly for Ruef's release. "I should not have directed my rage against one man, human like myself, but [rather] ... against the forces that made him what he was," Older wrote eight years later, reflecting on both the corruption and the apathy ingrained in San Francisco society. "Those forces were not changed by our putting Ruef in San Quentin. Money was still the only standard of success, the only measure of power, and it still is; great corporations still continued to control an apathetic people; all the influences that had made Ruef were still busy at work making more Ruefs. We had done nothing but take one man from beneath those influences, leaving an empty place that another man would immediately fill. We had done nothing but wholly wreck one man's life." After four and a half years in prison, Ruef was released on parole. Though disbarred, he was able to prosper in real estate, and was pardoned by the governor in 1920.

Two years before the earthquake, then-mayor James Phelan had formed the Association for the Improvement and Adornment of San Francisco, whose mission was to develop a grand plan for the city. The association hired renowned architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham of Chicago, who devised a plan that featured "a great semicircular civic center place at Van Ness Avenue and Market Street from which nine broad arterial boulevards would radiate outward to meet inner and outer rings of concentric streets." The destruction of downtown San Francisco in 1906 offered the perfect opportunity to implement Burnham's coherent and architecturally compelling vision. However, in the frantic efforts to rebuild the city, speed took precedence over planning. In the absence of decisive control from the center, the municipal government fell under the sway of a business and financial oligarchy headed by a Committee of Fifty, many from the same "smart set" that had patronized the Met's performances. Their priority was restoration, as quickly as possible, of the city's tourist industry and West Coast financial leadership. San Francisco thus re-formed along the same uninspired and haphazard lines that existed before the quake. By 1909 the Palace Hotel had reopened in the same location. The Call building too was quickly restored, but, in the 1930s, was stripped of its distinctive top. "Its five domes were removed, and its columns, arches, cornices and terra cotta enriched façades were sent to landfills." Now known as the Central Tower, the building assumed an Art Deco appearance, "its walls ... streamlined with painted brick and inset sash windows." A new city hall was designed, and opened in 1915 on a site near the old one.

Plans were laid as well for a more reliable water supply, ultimately leading to the highly controversial decision to dam the Tuolumne River in Yosemite, a project so complex and costly that the dam was not completed until the 1920s and the 156-mile Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct carrying water to San Francisco did not begin functioning until 1934. This system still serves as the primary source of water for San Francisco and the peninsula.

The almost total "destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah [that is, the Barbary Coast] by fire and brimstone from heaven" also proved temporary. Within three months of the quake, a half dozen brothels and numerous dance halls had sprung up from the ruins, and by 1907 a new Barbary Coast was "roaring in full blast." The postquake Barbary Coast, though still the roughest area in town, was marked by less depravity than in earlier years. A slummer's paradise, it attracted tourists, who were often seated in visitors' galleries. A vibrant and innovative music scene developed in the area's clubs, which also offered entertainment to dance-crazy pleasure seekers. Photographer Arnold Genthe took two such visitors to the Olympia on November 27, 1910.

The dance floor was crowded with sailors, drifters, rowdies, painted women ... , but the crowd ignored Genthe and his companions. Slumming parties were a familiar sight on the Barbary Coast.

The man and the woman with Genthe ... joined the crowd on the floor and began to dance. That was a less familiar move, since the slummers usually kept themselves superciliously aloof.

But these two danced, and little by little ... the crowd on the floor became silent, and drifted to the sidelines and watched. When the honky-tonk music stopped and the two dancers stood still, the crowd broke into a roar of cheers.... The dancers were [Russian ballet stars Anna] Pavlova and [Mikhail] Mordkin.

Among the most popular dances at the clubs in this period was the Turkey Trot, which, accompanied by ragtime music, became a sensation throughout the nation. Pavlova told a reporter from the Examiner that she was delighted to have learned the dance in the Barbary Coast, and was determined to introduce it to Russia and "throughout Europe" (an endorsement she subsequently withdrew). San Francisco's Barbary Coast was finally closed down in February 1917 after the state supreme court upheld the California Red Light Abatement Act, which had nominally taken effect three years earlier.

Perhaps the most astonishing and auspicious development to arise from the ashes of the fire, however, was a new Chinatown. The conflagration had left the area in ruin, and some conservative politicians gloated over its destruction. In the aftermath of the fires, Chinese refugees had been forced into camps in the least desirable areas of the Presidio and in Oakland, and some businessmen, notably former mayor Phelan (whose campaign slogans had been openly anti-Asian and anti-Semitic), advocated relocating Chinatown away from the prime real estate in the center of the city to undesirable outlying areas such as Hunter's Point. Ruef, in this battle, came out on the side of the Chinese, asserting that the city had no right to confiscate their property. Valuing international trade and good relations with China-which had been sorely tested by the strengthening of the Exclusion Act in 1904-the federal government also supported the rights of the Chinese community. Local Chinese representatives seized the opportunity to counteract the area's negative reputation and responded with unity, acumen, and shrewdness in effecting its transformation. Negotiating in good faith with city officials, they spread word to the displaced residents to begin rebuilding as soon as possible. By the end of May 1906, the reconstruction of Chinatown in its original location had begun. Furthermore, overtures from other Pacific Coast cities strengthened the negotiating position of the district's leaders. Portland and Seattle offered to take in the refugees and establish Chinatowns that would potentially divert tourist dollars from San Francisco.

By 1908 a new Chinese quarter had arisen like a phoenix in the heart of San Francisco. Streets were wider than before the quake and more open to the surrounding neighborhoods. Blind alleys were mostly eliminated. Buildings sported decorative facades that attracted tourists. The returning Chinese residents actively fought the opium, prostitution, and gambling interests, and local merchants squelched the notorious tong wars instigated by rival gangs. By 1910 a Chinese Chamber of Commerce was functioning. Assimilation, in fact, became the goal; the returnees aimed to prove themselves model citizens-which enhanced the area's reputation but also, unfortunately, temporarily stifled much of the district's ethnic art forms, including the Cantonese opera. Children were trained to play Western instruments, and Chinese marching bands became popular. In time the unique culture of Chinese opera reemerged, though in a much-altered form that appealed to a new class of United States-born second-generation citizens.

The rapid rebuilding in Chinatown was mirrored elsewhere in the city. In fact, the destruction of 1906 seemed to unify the normally fractious subcommunities in a common purpose. And in the heady rush to restore the city to its former glory, some cultural institutions took root, notably the symphony, which, after years of squabbling among potential supporters, finally found a dedicated cohort of guarantors and presented its first concert in December 1911.

Earlier the same year, President William Howard Taft had signed a congressional resolution designating San Francisco as the official site for an international exposition nominally celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal-an honor San Francisco had been seeking against competing cities (notably New Orleans). The Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE), attended by 18 million people over ten months in 1915, and including exhibits by thirty-one foreign countries and twenty-five U.S. states, indeed celebrated the canal. More important, however, it broadcast to the nation the triumphal recovery of the country's "gate to the Orient." Frank Todd, the fair's chronicler, noted that "music was the soul of the place." The exhibition's 2,206 concerts included 368 organ recitals, 13 performances by the Boston Symphony, 575 concerts by the official Exposition Orchestra, and 1,201 free outdoor band concerts.

The giddy energy and unified sense of purpose that spurred the rebuilding of San Francisco in the decade after the 1906 tragedy soon dissipated, however, and the city returned to its former divisiveness. The politics of class, race, and labor reemerged, apparent not only in the city's government and economic life but also in its artistic institutions. Other metropolises no doubt harbored similar differences of opinion, but in San Francisco the passion with which they were voiced was particularly strident. Perhaps it was the city's free-spirited, Wild West heritage. Or perhaps it was the constricted geography, which forced competing interests into close geographical proximity. But it seems that San Francisco's history is marked by particularly virulent expressions of partisanship, which on the one hand facilitated frank (and occasionally thoughtful) discussion, but on the other hampered the establishment of institutions that required compromise and consensus. This factionalism, so characteristic of the city in the first half of the twentieth century, was counterbalanced by a utopian vision that emerged periodically to inspire San Francisco's most successful cultural endeavors. The sensitive artist, in fact, was hard-pressed to resist the breathtaking beauty of the Pacific, the city's invigorating climate, or the lure of its cultural treasures, and the literature is filled with often banal, but at times eloquent, tributes to San Francisco's virtues.

These competing ideologies guide the present discussion of music in San Francisco during the first part of the twentieth century. On the negative side, political wrangling delayed the establishment of the symphony and the opera and, once they were under way, continued to impede their primary business of music making. Racism persisted as a distressing element of the local scene. The derision directed at the Chinese hardly disappeared after the postquake rebuilding. Furthermore, during the mid-1930s, black and white union musicians clashed in a bitter legal battle. By this time, segregated locals (one representing black musicians, the other restricted to whites) existed in more than fifty cities across the nation. In many communities, tension between these competing organizations was palpable, but in San Francisco the black and white locals ended up confronting each other in court. Considerable strain also marked the implementation of San Francisco's Federal Music Project (FMP) during the Depression years. Throughout the country, the FMP dealt uneasily with the opposing goals of artistic quality and economic relief; in San Francisco, however, the project's internal conflicts erupted in a major, and highly public, battle between administrators and artists.

The utopian strain forms a consistent, competing strand woven into these vociferous battles. One of its most idealistic voices was composer Ernest Bloch, for five years director of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, who untiringly promoted cross-cultural and interreligious musical expression on a grand scale-bringing national and international attention to San Francisco and to Bloch's dream of unifying humankind through the medium of sound. A similar, though less grandiose, vision of cross-cultural collaboration appears in the Asian-Western syntheses and interdisciplinary artistic collaborations of Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison, and others, and in the adventurous new music scene of the 1930s, which presaged developments elsewhere in the country. It is no less evident in the two world fairs-in 1915 and 1939-40-both of which celebrated California's beauty and diversity, heralding commonalities among various peoples while war raged across the rest of the globe.

The aim of this book is not to chronicle every musical event in San Francisco during the period under consideration. An undertaking of this scope must necessarily be selective. In choosing the foci for various chapters, I was guided by the ways in which they illuminate the book's central concern: namely, the centrifugal forces of factionalism and idealism that played out so colorfully in San Francisco's musical life. Understanding these powerful forces requires us to examine San Francisco in the context of the wider U.S. culture. Whereas a book on New York City might justify an inward gaze, San Francisco is not large enough, or isolated enough, to be considered outside the national scene. Throughout the book, then, the reader will be drawn into making comparisons with musical life elsewhere. In this light, San Francisco sometimes emerges at the leading edge of artistic developments; at other times it reflects ideas and developments pioneered elsewhere, while offering its own locally colored interpretation of the nation's musical developments. For the specialist reader, the book's two interludes focus on a few little-known works, enriching our understanding of the music of this period, much of which has been forgotten in a single-minded teleological emphasis on modernism. To aid the reader in remembering the many unfamiliar figures introduced in these pages, the index provides a reference source with dates and brief identifications of persons cited.

The book is divided into two broad parts. The first covers the period up to 1930. Most chapters begin with a prequake retrospective, situating the developments of the first quarter of the twentieth century in historical perspective. The book's second part focuses on the specific conflicts provoked by the economic stress of the 1930s. Whereas each part has a clear beginning point, delineated by a defining historical event (the quake and the crash), the various stories have no single logical ending-marker. Some institutions, such as the symphony, reached defining points in the late 1930s; in other areas, the tale does not become complete until the 1950s. Rather than being bound by an artificial chronological limitation, I follow each story to a distinctive turning point (or ending, as the case may be). Although these endings may be staggered, the broad sweep of nearly a half century nevertheless suggests some conclusions, not only about music as an evolving discipline, but also about its changing role in a changing social context.