Barbary Coast Trail - Discover San Francisco’s Gold Rush Era of Former Brothels, Graveyard of Gold Rush Ships, and Saloons...

If the whiskey didn't knock you out while wandering around the Barbary Coast Trail... the harlots and hoodlums surely would.

Once known as the red-light district in old San Francisco, it connects you to over sixteen of San Francisco’s most important historic sites.

Like the...

  • Birthplace of the Gold Rush
  • Largest collection of historic ships in the U.S.
  • Pony Express Headquarters site
  • WWII submarine
  • Oldest Asian temple in the U.S.
  • Barbary Coast-era shanghaiing den
  • Old Mint, once the Fort Knox of the West
  • Last cluster of Gold Rush-era buildings in San Francisco
  • Oldest Catholic cathedral west of the Rockies
  • Gold Rush Museum, featuring stagecoaches and Gold Rush mining implements
  • Mansion built by Silver King James C. Flood
  • And much more...

Picture yourself as a miner, sailor, or just a new comer streaming into San Francisco in the 1850s and 1860s, becoming the Barbary Coast's primary customer.

You're overwhelmed by all the dance halls and concert saloons, where bleary-eyed men and washed out women stand around drinking dreadful liquor, smoking offensive tobacco, and engaging in vulgar conduct.

Now imagine... as a sailor - though you're afraid of being shanghaied - resisting the fear... hungry for female companionship and bawdy entertainment.

While meandering around the Barbary Coast Trail... many of those men woke up after a night's leave...

...finding themselves unexpectedly on-board another ship bound for some faraway port.

San Francisco Museum and Historical Society created the Barbary Coast Trail.
 
Starting at San Francisco’s US Mint, the trail - identified with over 155 bronze medallions and arrows embedded in the sidewalk -- show you the way.

The trail winds through the streets of San Francisco... passes through historical neighborhoods...  and ends up down at Fisherman’s Wharf.

Imagine stepping back in time and wondering past former brothels, a graveyard of Gold Rush ships, and the pub where Mark Twain befriended a firefighter named Tom Sawyer.

Be sure to check out its commemorative plaque.

Jackson Square - the heart of the old Barbary Coast...

...is San Francisco’s first official historic district.

So... whether you're looking to take a little stroll amid historic architecture, or shopping for some amazing antiques, Jackson Square has something for everyone.
 
Let’s take a peak into some of it's history and the Barbary Coast!

Take a look...

Pretty cool huh! Thank you - Globo Maestro - for letting us share your video.

Hey did you happen to see the sign about The Old Ship Saloon?

Well in 1851, an enterprising Englishman, by the name of Joe Anthony,  cut a door into the side of the hull of a three-masted ship - called the Arkansas - and converted it into the Old Ship Ale House.

He installed a gangplank to the Pacific Street pier and posted a sign next to the entrance that read, "Gud, Bad, and Indif’rent Spirits Sold Here! At 25 cents each."

You see... a storm blew the Arkansas aground on Alcatraz Island. Then... later the ship was towed into Yerba Buena Cove and set on the beach that’s now the corner of Pacific and Battery.

Until the turn of the century, The Old Ship Saloon - as it was later named - operated as a sailors’ tavern and shanghaiing den.

Many sailors drank drug-laced liquor, passed out, and were scuttled off... on-board some merchant vessel leaving San Francisco to unexpected voyages far away.

But don’t worry! Those days are gone.

Today the Old Ship Saloon’s...

...a neighborhood fixture.

Inside you’ll find friendly service, free-flowing drinks and delicious lunches and bar snacks.

The Old Ship Saloon in San Francisco, CA

Oh, by the way... originally San Francisco was known as Yerba Buena Cove.

If you want to take the whole Barbary Coast Trail tour... check with the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society.  They have brochures and literature.

The tour is primarily a self-guided experience. But ask if any private tours are available.
 
Now... the entire trail can be covered in a leisurely day of walking.
 
It’s a 3.8 mile path... weaving its way through the Downtown area of San Francisco, Union Square, Chinatown, Portsmouth Square, Jackson Square Historic District and more.

But unless you like to walk a lot... we recommend taking the tour in small portions.That way... you can take your time and enjoy the experience.

Especially if you want to do some browsing, or shopping... get a bite to eat or enjoy a casual drink.

So... what do you say... let’s get started!


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