San Francisco History Days
The Barbary Coast
During the raucous days of Gold Rush era San Francisco, the most wicked part of town became known as the “Barbary Coast,” the name drawing a colorful similarity to the home of the murderous Barbary Pirates of North Africa.
This 40-square block area was home to the most incredible concentration of melodeons, dance halls, grogeries, gambling joints and deadfalls found anywhere. As such, this hotbed of sin, crime and depravity was an irresistible draw to thirsty and entertainment-starved miners, sailors and countrymen, all seeking distraction and female companionship. The Barbary Coast became the haunt of an eclectic collection of harlots, thugs, pimps, thieves, robbers, gamblers, con-men and drunkards.
Yet, the district captured the imagination and the attention of a wide audience with a great taste for “bad things”…
“I have seen purer liqueurs, finer tobaccos, truer guns and pistols, larger dirks and Bowie knifes, and prettier courtesans, here in San Francisco, than any place I have ever visited; and it is my unbiased opinion that California can and does furnish the best bad things that are available in America.”
- Hinton Helper, 1855
The Old Mint
But just around the corner, San Francisco was rapidly growing up as a vibrant and prosperous city, filled with business innovators, government leaders and literary and entertainment luminaries. To celebrate the colorful history of early San Francisco, and to learn more about the many people that contributed to it, make plans now to attend San Francisco History Days at the Old Mint.
San Francisco History Days is a free event, open to the public, designed to promote an awareness of San Francisco history by highlighting many local museums, societies, groups and non-profit organizations that celebrate various aspects of our rich cultural past.
Complementing this immersive learning experience, and to bring the past to life, Actions Past players will be portraying historical characters from the Gold Rush and Barbary Coast era. These living-history reenactors, in accurate period costuming, will mingle with visitors at the event, offering demonstrations, performances and impromptu theater.
San Francisco History Days is held indoors at the historic Old Mint. Guests can wander the many rooms of this beautifully restored 19th century landmark, where they will be welcomed by exhibitors eager to share their unique historic insights on the city we love.
Actions Past is proud to join with the City of San Francisco to bring a special touch to this event, and exercise our passion for historical reenacting by giving visitors the opportunity to meet “in person” many of San Francisco’s notable (and notorious) residents who once inhabited the environs of the Barbary Coast!
Read about characters that you may meet at San Francisco History Days