West of Twin Peaks Timeline


Last modified 2023-03-02 12:45:07. Initially published .


  • Rancho San Miguel, 4443 acres from Junipero Serra Blvd. to San Jose Avenue, granted to Don Jose de Jesus Noe, Mayor of Yerba Buena, by Mexican Governor Pio Pico.


  • Gold discovered in California.


  • California becomes a state.


  • Rancho San Miguel is purchased by American, John Horner, “California’s First Farmer,” for $200,000.


  • California Academy of Sciences is founded in San Francisco. (National academy will not be founded until ten years later.)


  • The City and County of San Francisco is formed on June 11, 1856.


  • C.K. Garrison, shipping millionaire, co-founder of the Bank of California, and Mayor of San Francisco becomes the new owner of the city’s highest point after John Horner loses his mortgage on San Miguel Rancho in the financial panic of 1853-7.


  • Abraham Lincoln elected 16th President of the United States. The “Pioche Railroad” started by the Market Street Railway Company. Financed by Francios Pioche, Market Street is graded for the steam dummies.


  • F.L.A. Pioche and L.L. Robinson file first of several subdivision maps of Rancho San Miguel documenting their ownership of the rancho. A master roadbuilder, Robinson’s map is the first to use a curvilinear street pattern in San Francisco.


  • San Francisco population reaches 149,473. Builders begin to mass produce housing.


  • San Francisco’s first public exhibition of light, from roof of St. Ignatius Academy. Southern Pacific railroad line is completed, connecting Los Angeles with San Francisco.


  • San Francisco’s population reaches 233,959. Adolph Sutro, after completing his tunnel through the base of Mt. Davidson, Nevada, facilitating water drainage and ore transportation from the Comstock Silver Lode, purchases 1200 acres of Rancho San Miguel from the estate of banker, Francois Pioche.


  • Baldwin and Howell residential development company organized.


  • San Francisco population reaches 298,997, making it the eighth largest city in the United States.


  • Sunnyside becomes the 1st residential subdivision on the slopes of Mt. Davidson; established by Behrend A. Joost, the “Grand Old Man of Twin Peaks.”


  • Sierra Club is founded by 182 charter members, including George Davidson.


  • San Francisco population reaches 342,782.


  • Work begins on the Panama Canal.


  • City Beautiful Plan by Daniel Burnham recommends underground transit through Twin Peaks and the use of curvilinear landscaped streets in residential developments.


  • Earthquake estimated at 8.25 intensity strikes San Francisco, bringing Mt. Davidson cross architect, George Kelham, to rebuild the Palace Hotel; cross engineer, Henry Brunnier, comes from New York to rebuild the City’s devastated street railway system.


  • San Francisco population reaches 416,912. San Francisco’s highest hill named for George Davidson at the urging of the Sierra Club in honor of his charter membership and significant scientific achievements.


  • After Adoph Sutro dies in 1898 and wills his land for educational purposes, the California Supreme Court rules in favor of Sutro’s heirs that the trust is invalid. A. S. Baldwin, Sutro’s estate appraiser, purchases Mt. Davidson to develop single family homes. “Sunny Jim” James Rolph is elected to first of four terms as Mayor of San Francisco. Women win the right to vote in California.


  • St. Francis Wood, Balboa Terrace, Ingleside Terrace, and Forest Hill become first residential subdivisions of the Sutro lands on and around Mt. Davidson. Elements of Burnham Plan are used for new single family home residence parks with underground utilities, rear alleys and garages for car access, and elaborate street landscaping to be maintained by home owner associations.


  • The Panama-Pacific International Exposition opens on February 20, 1915, celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal in 1914..


  • United States enters World War I. Construction begins on Westwood Park, 650 homes for “families of average means”.


  • Twin Peaks Tunnel and Sloat Boulevard opens up West of Twin Peaks area for further residential development. A. S. Baldwin builds footpaths to the summit of Mt. Davidson “for the pleasure of the public” to promote the area. Armistice Day celebrated November 11, 1918.


  • National prohibition against the sale of intoxicating liquors begins with the passage of the 18th amendment. Women gain the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.


  • First sunrise service organized by George Decatur, Reverend Homer K. Pitman, A.S. Baldwin, Clarence F. Pratt, and others. Forty-foot high wooden cross built by Adolph Anderson for the April 1st ceremony attended by 5000 and led by Dean J. Wilmer Gresham of Grace Cathedral. Sierra Club organizes Thanksgiving event on the summit.


  • Westwood Highlands subdivision for 283 custom built homes established on the southwest above the new Monterey Boulevard.


  • First Mount Davidson Cross burns down December 16th.


  • Construction begins on San Francisco’s largest ever subdivision, Miraloma Park. New “giant” “nearly 100-feet high” cross built atop Mt. Davidson in March 1926 and illuminated every night the week before Easter. Mrs. Edmund N. “Madie” Brown, State Park Commissioner and member of the Easter Sunrise Committee, enlists the support of the Commodore Sloat P.T.A., the Federation of Women’s Clubs, and St. Francis Homes Association to stop further development of the Mt. Davidson summit and make it a city park.


  • Second Mt. Davidson Cross destroyed by flames in Dec. 1928.


  • Third cross built on Mount Davidson: 80 ft. high with stucco with wands of electrical lights and lit for Easter week. City purchases 20 acres and six more acres at crest donated to the City by Mrs. A. S. Baldwin to create Mount Davidson Park which is dedicated by Mayor Rolph on John McLaren’s birthday, Dec. 20th.
  • Cross constructed atop Emerald Peak in Redwood City on land donated by Charles Holt and Joseph Leonard, early developers of the Emerald Lake area and Ingleside Terraces. To be lit during the Christmas and Easter seasons, the eighty-two feet high cross is two feet higher than San Francisco’s famous Mt. Davidson monument.


  • The first full year of the Great Depression, Easter sunrise services on Mount Davidson are broadcast over national radio networks through the 1940’s. San Francisco Water Department takes over operation of system bought from the Spring Valley Water Company.


  • Angelo J. Rossi elected Mayor of San Francisco until 1944. More than 10,000 worshipers climb Mount Davidson for the ninth sunrise Easter service on April 5th.
  • Third Mount Davidson Cross is destroyed by fire on May 12th.


  • A 4th wooden cross, 46 ft. high, built with donated labor from Carpenter’s Union Local 22 and Electrical Workers Union No. 6 organized by Archie Mooney of the State Building Trades Council. Mayor Rossi illuminates the last temporary cross. A plaque honoring Mrs. Brown’s efforts is mounted along a path leading to the top.


Construction begins on the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge. Fourth Mt. Davidson cross blows down. Mayor Rossi leads dedication ceremony before 32,000 residents for construction of a fifth and permanent 103 ft. high steel and concrete Cross – which will be visible up to 75 miles away. Former mayor and now Governor “Sunny Jim” Rolph, lays the first cornerstone. National prohibition against the sale of liquor is repealed on Dec. 5th.


  • Final cornerstone and time capsule with transcript of original deed to Mt. Davidson put into base of cross built with 750 cubic yards of concrete and 30 tons of reinforcing steel. At the request of Madie Brown for “bringing light into many a darkened home” and “instilling the principles of the Golden Rule into American business”, President Franklin D. Roosevelt presses a telegraph key to light the world’s largest cross for the first time on March 24th at 7:30 PM before a crowd of 50,000. In July 1934, eleven days after “Bloody Thursday,” the largest general strike in American history closes down San Francisco.


      • President Roosevelt presses a telegraph key from the White House to open the Golden Gate Bridge. Groundbreaking for San Francisco City College near the site of the old county jail.


      • Diego Rivera commissioned by architect Timothy Pflueger to paint “Pan American Unity” mural at Golden Gate Exposition on Treasure Island for installation at new City College Library.


      • U.S. enters World War II. Tower Market built by the Pommon family. To save Inspiration Point, former Mayor Rossi successfully convinces the City to purchase seven more acres for Mount Davidson Park. 75,000 attend sunrise services during World War II. New Sherwood Forest subdivision includes KGO radio family, the Edwards, dream house at One Cresta Vista Drive.


      • St. Brendan’s Grammar School built on Portola Drive.


      • Archbishop Riordan High School built on Phelan Avenue.


      • On January 30, 1950, the Board of Supervisors appropriates funds for an addition of five acres on the southwest side of Mount Davidson Park, increasing it to its present size of 38 acres.


      • Permanent Miraloma Elementary School opens after neighborhood petition effort.


      • In response to a letter from a soldier bound for the Korean War saying the lit cross was the last sight he had of home, Lakeside Presbyterian Church raises funds for the City to light the cross year-round rather than just Easter week (as it had been since 1934).


      • Brother of architect Timothy Pflueger, Milton, gets the controversial Pan American Unity Mural by Diego Rivera moved out of storage and installed at the City College Theater.


      • Clint Eastwood, San Francisco native and future mayor of Carmel, finds success with his Dirty Harry film shot at famous view locations throughout the City, including the base of the night lit Mount Davidson Cross. Teenagers practice Yosemite climb on the hilltop monument.


      • The Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.


      • Victorian Alliance organized in San Francisco to preserve and restore historic houses.


      • Sunnyside Conservatory built around 1900 by W.A. Merralls, mining engineer and inventor, is made a City landmark. George Moscone elected Mayor.


      • In response to the energy crisis, City reduces Mt. Davidson cross lighting to week before Easter and Christmas. Dorothy Erskine Park established for the founder of the Greenbelt Alliance by the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association.


      • Live television broadcast of Sunrise service begins. S.F. Examiner reports of Mt. Davidson Mystery, Feb. 16, 1977: “Last night, apparently someone made it to the 103-foot summit and followed the tradition of planting a flag. Police removed it this morning, but apparently without clues as to who did it or why it was done.


      • CBS television news broadcasts annual easter services nationally in response to the deaths of Harvey Milk and George Moscone in 1978.


      • Art Agnos elected Mayor. In response to improved anniversary lighting of Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, Portalwood Press starts campaign to light the cross year-round. About the same time, East Bay resident and realtor, Kenneth Sackett, proposes $1.7 million transformation of Mt. Davidson into a holy mountain of prayer for the Pope’s visit to San Francisco. Ingleside Terraces Sundial confirmed world’s largest by Guinness Book of World Records. City reduces lighting of cross to two hours for Easter.


      • S.F. Chronicle editorializes against year-round lighting request. City rejects Sackett’s proposal, limits lighting to 2 hours before Easter sunrise, and stops application made to Landmarks Preservation Board for historic designation in response to complaints from Americans United for Separation of Church and State. On October 17, 7.1 magnitude Loma Prieta Earthquake damages the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.


      • American Civil Liberties Union, American Jewish Congress, with Americans United for Separation of Church and State sue the city for ownership of the cross.


      • Willie Brown elected to first of two four-year terms as Mayor.



      • The City officially transfers title of the property to the Council on January 20th. The City, Council and plaintiffs reach a settlement on the lawsuit and agree to lighting of the cross two days a year.


      • Western Union sends its last telegram. Tower Market reopens as Mollie Stone’s.


      • Armenian Genocide Plaque stolen from top of Mt. Davidson.


    • Plaque replaced honoring Mount Davidson Park’s founder Madie Brown.

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