San Francisco

"The morning of the great day, as a mass of spectators gathered until both sides of the Golden Gate were "black with people, all the way from Tamalpais round by the Marin shore was a great multitude," the fleet remained anchored about en mile out to sea.  The battleships Nebraska and Wisconsin arrived that morning, bringing the total strength to eighteen battleships, six destroyers, and six auxiliaries.  At 11:00 am amidst patches of fog, the thirty ships got underway for the Golden Gate.  As they approached San Francisco the sun broke through and burned away the fog, revealing to the men of the fleet a huge WELCOME sign in fifty-foot-high white letters on the side of Telegraph Hill.  The distance to shore decreased and they were amazed at the mass of bodies they beheld - an estimated one-million people."  James Reckner, Teddy Roosevelt's Great White Fleet.

Greeted by "Lady Freedom," the fleet passes through the Golden Gate.  Bearing armor, a shield and the American flag on the cover of this fold-out postcard, she welcomed the fleet. l The card was sent on May 3rd and the fleet arrive on May 6th.  Select to read.

The abov photograph was removed from a photo album.  It is a long photo, approximately 4" x 8" and numbered 974.  The photo frames the USS Kansas in the foreground with multiple cruisers and battleships in the background.  My guess is this is probably a Lester Clement Barton photograph, as he did number is photos from this period in the 300s as can be seen in the shot he took in San Diego shown on this site.


the atlantic fleet on the pacific coast - the cruise of the american armada

This is a 6-panel card showing the 16 battleships that "sailed from Hampton Roads, Virginia, December 19th, 1907, on the long cruise of 14,000 miles (around the Horn) with San Francisco as as the objective.  It describes the formation and the components of each squadron with the Commanding officers.  This is a hard card to find that has not been taken apart.

the atlantic fleet in san francisco harbor

The watercolor above was the work of Henry Reuterdahl, an artist appointed by President Roosevelt to steam with the fleet on its historic journey.  Henry was working for Colliers Magazine where this image was first published as the centerfold.  It was also  part of the illustrations included in Franklin Matthews, "With the Battle Fleet."  Other works of Henry Reuterdahl can be found at this site on the link "Artist of the Fleet."  Henry was onboard the USS Louisiana and wrote of the fleet's journey and of the life of a sailor.  "California's welcome to  the fleet was characteristic of the ardent temperament of that commonwealth.  It received the men and the ships with an acclaim such as might have been bestowed justly had they returned to an American port victorious on the high seas over an enemy.  The arrival of the fleet at San Francisco on May 6 was characterized by such a demonstration of enthusiasm and an outpouring of the people as the country never saw before.  Tens of thousands came hundreds of miles to see the entrance through the Golden Gate.  Admiral  Evans, who had returned to the command of his flagship the day before at Monterey, led the fleet into the harbor.  The hills were black with spectators.  The harbor was crowded with beautifully decorated shipping carrying thousands on the water to see the show.  The Pacific fleet of eight armored cruisers and auxiliaries lay inside the bay.  With the Battle Fleet was the torpedo flotilla that made the trip around South America at the same time that the Battle Fleet went around.  The Atlantic and Pacific fleets joined in one and then Admiral Evans made a circle, nearly two miles in diameter, leading no less than forty-two men of war of the United States, the largest number of American warships ever assembled together since the civil war, and the most powerful fleet ever seen in the Western hemisphere, a fleet greater in size and power than any nation had ever gathered together before with the exception of Great Britain."  Franklin Matthews

Images of the fleet in the harbor of San Francisco were many.  The one above, from Sunset Magazine, shows "The American Battleship Fleet Entering the Harbor of San Francisco After its Long Voyage from the Atlantic.


When it was announced that the Secretary of the Navy would be present and conduct a review of the fleet upon arrival, San Francisco and the Navy increased the size of the celebration.  All ships on the Pacific Coast would participate in the celebration and review.  A combined fleet of forty-six ships entered the Golden Gate in perfect formation.  "The flagship Connecticut fired a seventeen-gun salute to Secretary Metcalf as she passed the gunboat Yorktown, which few his flag.  Following this ceremony the ships anchored in three columns off San Francisco, flagships just to the east of the Oakland ferry route.  Expressing the feeling that the review provoked, one spectator recorded, "Our hearts heat high with the pride in our own country, and in the sure protection of its invincible strength."   James Reckner

The above engraving was published by the Pacific Novelty Company showing the Fleet's arrival through the Golden Gate.  It is a tri-fold postcard that must have been planned many weeks before the fleet's arrival to have in drawn and printed for the fleet's arrival.


carlson-currier company

The company was started in 1876 in San Francisco specializing is silk.  They began with one spooling machine and one girl and grew to a company of 125 employees.  Hadley Carlson came from Portland, Oregon and his father was an Officer in the Union Army.  J.P. Currier was from Hillsborough, New Hampshire first worked in the ticket offices of the New York & New England Railroad before joining the silk business in Chicago and then moving to San Francisco.

mission central hotel

The Mission District was originally a low rent district for immigrants coming to San Francisco.  The Mission Central Hotel, advertised "hot and cold water in each room and direct street cards at Valencia & Fillmore."  Today the old building is still in use!  The Casa Valencia!!!  To see, follow this link.  Seven Google post giving it a "thumbs up" as a place to live.

m. J. brandenstein & co.

This was an over-written advertising card that came with free postage.  Since the left side was filled with advertising, "You are cordially invited when in the City during "Naval Week" to visit us and inspect our new home just completed, one of the grandest view points from which to observe the fleet and the rebuilding of a great city.  Very Truly Yours, M. J. Brandenstein  Co."  Started in 1881 roasting coffee, it is still in business today!  (link)


with the great american battle fleet

These cards were issued to celebrate the fleet's journey from Hampton Roads to San Francisco.  Each has a battleship on one side and a photograph of the ships crew on the other side.  Thus far I have only found three of the cards but certain there must be more.

The banquet at the fairmont hotel

One of the items that I had hoped to find for my collection was only recently realized, the program for the Secretary of the Navy's Banquet hosted at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.  The event was held on the 7th of May and was attended by the Governor of California and has as speakers, the Secretary of the Navy Victor Metcalf, Rear-Admiral Evans, General Funston, and the Mayor of San Francisco, Hon. E. R. Taylor.  The dinner, I am sure, was a delight including four choices of wine and a bunch of names in French that make your mouth water 🙂   The illustrations were particularly funny, below.

Bear with Cork Cannon


junior officers ball at the fairmount hotel

This is an invitation extended to Miss Rachel Evans, (Admiral Evan's daughter) to the Junior Officers Ball.  The ball was given on Monday Evening, April 6th, at 9 pm.

The Fairmont Hotel was the hub for social activities while the fleet was in San Francisco.  The hotel was built by two sisters, Theresa Fair Oelrichs and Virginia Fair Vanderbilt in the heart of downtown San Francisco.  Only weeks after opening the earthquake of 1906 destroyed the hotel and the entire structure had to be re-built.  The hotel was spectacular in design offering luxury accommodations.

A recent $85-million restoration has again put it at the top of the hotels in San Francisco.  It is now listed on the Register of Historic Places.



postcards of the fleet entering san francisco bay

One of the most popular photographic event of the cruise was the Fleet entering the Golden Gate and steaming into San Francisco Bay on May 6th.  The below real photo postcards are just a few of the many that were produced from the event.  As seen, it was quite spectacular!   Thousands of people lined the shore from all sides to get a glimpse of the magnificent site of 16-battleship steaming in line formation.


the sailor's friend - a pocket guide to events

The booklet a right was designed and published by the California Promotion Committee and titled the "Official Program - California's Welcome to the Fleet, San Francisco, May, 1908."  As can be seen by the condition of this booklet, dog, eared, worn, and rain-stained, this booklet was quite handy to one sailor.  The booklet has a complete listing of all of the events, methods of transportation around the city, ferry routes and schedules, location of public telephone stations, amusement parks, public parks, monuments, points of interest, railroad schedules, and clubs.  Quite a lot of information in 40 pages that fit in your pocket.

For Amusements, the booklet listed:  Alcazar Theater, American Theater, Cutes and Zoo, Central Theater, Novelty Theater, Orpheum Theater, Princess Theater, Van Ness Theater, Wigwam Theater.




change of command

On May 9th, 1908 Admiral Evans' flag was lowered from the mast of the USS Connecticut while in San Francisco Bay and retired.  A thirteen gun salute was fired echoing off the surrounding hills.  Admiral Evans was too ill to attend the ceremony, but on each ship in the harbor his final orders were read:  Evans expressed his regret for leaving the fleet and his appreciation for the loyal support he had received from the officer and men of the fleet.  Rear Admiral Charles S. Sperry took over command of the Fleet.

Invitations to the fleet

The officers and men of the Fleet were invited to many events during their stay in San Francisco.  Every civic organization wanted to take part in the celebration.  The group in invitations below were sent to the Secretary of the Navy and included four different invitations.  The biggest event was the Reception and Ball for the Secretary of the Navy, Admiral Evans, and the Officers of the American Fleet at the Fairmont Hotel on May 11th.  This was a different event than the reception held at the Hotel on the 7th.  The second invitation in the envelope was for an Autoride and Luncheon honoring the Secretary of the Navy and the Officers of the American Fleet given by the Mayor of Oakland on Oakland Day, May 9th.  This would have included a large group of automobiles fitted to take groups out into the countryside for a ride and return to a luncheon and banquet.   The third invitation was from the Committee on Entertainment of Enlisted Men for a Reception and Ball on May 12th at the California Club Auditorium at Fillmore and Page Street.  The California Club was a private club established in 1888.  The final invitation was from the Director of the California Club to the Chief Petty Officers of the Fleet to a Reception and Dance on May 14th at 1750 Clay Street.  The below photograph is of Midshipman Kays with is fiance.  This photo is part of his album that can be seen on this website at this link.


redwoods of california

Since 1888 when General Sherman visited the redwoods of Santa Cruz, the trees have been an attraction.  Big Basin Redwoods State Park has 18,000 acres of old growth forest where giant redwoods can be found, some more that 50-feet around.

At left is a card from W. C. dated June 7, 1908 and postmarked in San Francisco, "Dear C,  Can you find me on this postal. It wass taken at the "Big Trees, Santa Cruz."

At right is a sailor posing next to "General Fremont."  Above him can be see a "welcome" poster of Admiral Evans and American flags.  The caption, "Standing room for 50 people in the base of this tree."  This card is part of the Brown & Shaffer collection located on this website. 

To see more of this collection, follow this link:  Brown & Shaffer.


The Fleet at San Francisco.  A city that was still recovering from the earthquake that hit the city in 1906.  For the City, it was a chance to show the nation that it had rebuilt and was the same great city for business that it had always been.  This booklet provides 10 pages about the fleet and 30 pages showing the City and the buildings lining the main avenues.  The foldout below if from the booklet.  On the back is a panorama of the City.

visiting the battleship fleet anchored in the harbor


welcome to the fleet

At left is a postcard with an explanation of the flag signals used by ships to communicate.  Code "ZBHNEV"  Welcome to the Fleet.  Above is a program of events during the fleet visit to the City given out by the H. C. Capwell Company on 12th and Washington.


Photo studios in San Francisco create special backdrops for visitors to the city to get their portraits taken during the visit of the Atlantic Fleet.  At left a sailor poses at a studio in an automobile 23 miles from Frisco.  Above and below are portraits done with the same backdrop of battleships and they take a small boat out for a visit.  Below is a gentlemen driving to see the battleships, 24-miles away in San Francisco


the great naval parade

From the New York Times, San Francisco May 7, 1908 - Eight-thousand bluejackets and marines, the largest armed force the American Navy ever put ashore in time of peace-or-war were landed today from the combined Atlantic and Pacific fleets, now lying in the harbor, and marched through the beautifully decorated streets of San Francisco.  Twenty-five hundred soldiers of the regular army, in full dress array, acted as an escort to the sailormen.  Rear Admiral Evans, and the six other Rear Admirals, rode in carriages.  Admiral Evans had a most magnificent reception from the assembled thousands who watched the parade.  Secretary of the Navy Metcalf, Governor Gillett of California, and Mayor Taylor of San Francisco review3ed the procession as it counter-marched down Van Ness Avenue.  In addition to the Federal soldiers and sailors there were large representations from the National Guard and from semi-military veteran and civic organizations.  A battalion of natty little high school cadets, from Salt Lake City, acted as personal escort to Admiral Evans, in token of his having been appointed to the Naval Academy from Utah.  The marines, 1,200 strong, headed the naval forces, Major Dion Williams being in command.  The bluejackets were commanded by Captain Seaton Schroeder of the Virginia.


viewing the parade from location along market at van ness

The above map of San Francisco was completed in April of 1908 and shows the area burned during the fire in 1906.  By selecting the map you can see the parade route and numbered location that correspond to the images in my collection.  Each of the images below includes one of the corresponding numbers!

van ness ave - our "fifth ave"

This photograph shows the Marines, at the head of the parade going south on Van Ness with counter-marching sailors going north.  The photograph was taken on the south side of Van Ness looking north from around Sutter Street, Location 7.

"fighting bob" says farewell

"Following the arrival of the fleet there was a great land parade in San Francisco, the next day, in which 6,000 blue-jackets joined with the regular army troops and sate national guard and other organizations.  It was the largest parade of the kind since the great Dewey parade in New York ten years before.  Admiral Evans rode in the line.  It was his last public appearance as Commander-in-Chief.  The people cheered the bluejackets widely, but they went mad over Admiral Evans.  They made a hero out of him because of his persistent and plucky struggle with pain and disease.  Although thousands of men marched in the parade there really was only one man in it - Fighting Bob Evans.  All the others were a mere escort.  His naval sun went down that day in a veritable blaze of glory."  Franklin Matthews

The card at right is a real photo postcard of Fighting Bob Evans in the parade.  The writing on the card, "Fighting Bob Evans on the opposite side of back seat lifting his hat.  Mayor Taylor on this side in parade on Van Ness, over, Fighting Bob Evans on Van Ness day of one of the parades."   This photograph was taken west across Van Ness at Location 10.  In the background is the Van Ness Theater at 259 Van Ness.  The Van Ness opened March 11, 1907 with a performance of Madam Butterfly with seating for over 1500.  For more information about the theatre, follow this link:  Van Ness Theater.

vallajo welcomes the fleet

These two cards show the large float of the USS California that was constructed by the Mare Island Naval Shipyard and paraded for the fleet's arrival.  Mare Island was established as the first west coast shipyard but did not completed the construction of a single battleship until the beginning of WW1.  These photographs were both taken from the south side of Van Ness directly across the street to Sutter, in the first one can be seen the George Haas & Sons Company which was located at Van Ness & Sutter Street Location 7.



Many advertising cards for the fleet visit were produced, before and after, and given out free.  The first card below is for the Walter Furniture Company, produced after the fleet visit, showing the building decorated with the parade of May 7th in progress.  The Walter Furniture Company was located at Van Ness and Clay, near the turn around point of the parade, Location 8.  The second card, The Hibernia Bank, was made after the visit and shows the decoration for the visit.  The bank building was located along Market Street at the intersection of Golden Gate St., Location 9.  The building has been restored and is now used for catered events accommodating up to 2000 guests.  For more information follow this link:  Hibernia San Francisco.   The Louvre Restaurant and Family resort published this third card showing Admiral Evans with a list of all the ship captains below, President Roosevelt, and the battleship fleet.  The building was located at Eddy and Fillmore but has been removed.  The fourth card, the Bender-Moss Company publisher of Law Books published this nice card of Admiral Evans and a battleship coming through the Golden Gate. There offices were located at 52-54 McAllaster, just behind the Hibernia Bank.  


The photograph above and below were taken with a large format camera of the parade, looking east on Market showing parade stands erected near 5th Street on the east side.  The parade soldiers appear to be the local cadet navy unit in the photo above, and the California National Guard in the photo below.  Location 6

The card above shows the "California Grays" marching by the St. James Hotel, which was a prime location for viewing the parade, located at Van Ness and Fulton, Location 1.  Below left is another card looking down Market at the parade.  The building to the right is the Humbolt Building, Location 5, and still in existence.   The two cards below and right are both photographs taken at the beginning of Van Ness just off the turn from Market.  The St. James Hotel can be seen in the first photo.  The photograph was probably taken from the top of Golden Gate Street, Location 14.


The below series of photographs was taken by Frank S. Patton, a local photographer who had taken photographs after the San Francisco earthquake.  His cards typically have a black bar where white lettering is hand printed with a description of the photograph.  Thus far I have not been able to find a biography about Frank or his business and would be interested in any information that someone might have regarding his work.  The first card shows the USS California float pass the St. James Hotel at Location 1.  The second  card shows sailors from the USS Missouri marching between Grove and Fulton Streets along Van Ness Ave., taken from Location 3.  The next photos in the collection were taken looking both ways from Location 3 showing cadets marching past Brendel's Holiday Candies, a Naval formation from one of the ships,  Admiral Sperry and Mayor Taylor in a carriage,  a marching band with the St. James Hotel in the background, and the California Grays marching in formation.  The California Grays might have been from a San Francisco Military Academy.

The crew of the USS Maine passing by the reviewing stands on Van Ness

The first card show the crew from the USS Maine heading north on Van Ness pass the reviewing stands, south of Location 10 where the orange boxes show the review stands.  This photo is taken from the west side of the street.  In the background of the photograph can be seen the Old Civic Center that was next to  City Hall.  The Civic Center can be seen in the second postcard.

Photographs from the fleet's visit

This group of cards came from a personal photo album and contained photographs from the parade and views in the harbor.   The first photograph shows Admiral Evans in his carriage passing the Ganter & Mattern Company building at California & Van Ness, Location 13 This was down towards the end of Van Ness near the turn around at Washington.  The second card is as the carriage returned in the southerly direction from the same side of the street.  The third photograph shows a ships detachment marching past the Nathan Dorhman Company, also located at California and Van Ness.  The first harbor view below shows a schooner with a battleship in the background, the second photo, one of the ship's steamers towing liberty boat.

cabinet card photographs of the fleet parade

These two photographs are mounted on hardboard and are larger than a postcard by an inch in each direction.  The first photograph shows soldiers marching south and carriages going north at Bush Street and Van Ness.  In the background is "The Kimono House" at 1347 Van Ness, Location 12.  The second card, from nearby shows marines marching south on Van Ness with the Ocularium and The White House  in the background.


parade photographs from different locations

This group of cards presents photographs taken by different photographers and from other locations.  The photograph at left is of Admiral Evans with the Mayor.  From the building in the background, I believe this is about halfway up Market Street.  The photograph below of the Admirals in their carriages along Van Ness.  The first photo below shows two carriages with Admirals passing the Alpha Dining Room along Van Ness, still not sure of the exact location.  The second photo shows the turn at Van Ness and Market Street, looking down Market Street from Location 4.  The third card, nicely written on back, is "looking down Van Ness Ave., from Golden Gate Street, Location 14.  The last card shows the USS California float somewhere on Van Ness, with the counter- march, north and south.  The last card is at the turn of Market and Van Ness, formations doing a pinwheel around the California Volunteer Memorial, the viewing stands can be seen in the background.

illuminations of the fleet's visit

Below are cards showing the illuminations prepared for the enjoyment of the visitors to the City and the Fleet Sailors.  One of the prime attractions was the Ferry Terminal Building which lit up the architectural elements and displayed a large American shield.  The second card, published after the fleet departure, shows the battleships in the harbor illuminated for viewing at night.

u.s. fleet entering golden gate on leather

The S.F. Art Leather Company issued this leather postcard celebrating the fleet's arrival in San Francisco.  This one was used in Alameda in May.  These were made out of deer hide and images where impressed on one side.  These cards were made between a period of 1903 and 1915, many were inked and contained subjects of humor.  This one still has the stamp but it has been bleached from the chemicals of the leather.



san francisco welcomes our fleet may 1908

This group of cards were published by I. Scheff & Brothers of San Francisco and printed in German.  It was a great way to take a standard postcard of the scenic views and turn it into a Souvenir of the Visit of the Atlantic Fleet!  Each of the cards has a little booklet that opens with an accordion of the battleships that stretches out about 16-inches!  I have found them from San Francisco and Santa Cruz and there are probably many different cards that these were attached.

views of san francisco


The booklet provides a nice set of photographs showing how San Francisco had recovered after the earthquake of 1906.  The booklet is from Frank Lesher, a Chief Electrician on the USS Illinois who brought back a chest full of memories from his trip around the world.  To view more of his collection follow this link:  Frank Lesher


                                                                           oakland, california, saturday may 9, 1908                                                                     more than 4,000 sailors were at oakland's barbecue today

Oakland would be part of the celebration. At 10 am there was a Grand Parade through the City of 8,000 sailors.  The record-breaking crowds lined the streets, windows of buildings, and rooftops.  After the parade there was a huge barbecue for the men of the fleet, and in the evening, fireworks!  Oakland went all out to greet sailors of the fleet as heroes.  Some of the newspapers that I have manage to find from the celebration are shown below.

The Barbecue Dinner was appreciated by the Bluejackets.  The above photographs are part of the E. L. Demoss collection on this site.  The newspaper says they fed 4,000 sailors.  From the photographs, it looks like they not only fed them, but put a smile on their faces!


reception in the odd fellows of the u.s.s. atlantic fleet

This booklet is for a schedule of events put on by the Odd Fellows of Alameda County at Idora Park, Oakland on May 9th, 1908.  The event was scheduled after the completion of the parade when the Odd Fellows would meet at Idora Park for a reception to Grand Officers and Odd Fellows of the Fleet.  Events included "dancing in the pavilion afternoon and night," races for all ages, a baseball game, and lunch.


This is a great real photo postcard showing Fillmore Street decorated for the fleet's visit.  Flags are flying and buildings are decorated with bunting.  Across the street arches have been erected and adorned with American flags.  At the location of this photograph are two monuments, in the form of a superstructure on a warship,  erected for the fleets visit.  There are very few photographs showing Fillmore Street during the fleet's visit.  A good record of the photographs of the fleet visit can be found at OpenSFHistory.


Photographs of San Francisco during the Fleet's Visit

This is a group of real photos from an album from the fleet's visit to San Francisco.  They do not appear to be professional, buy are signed "F. G. Thomas"  There were notes on the back in pencil with someone adding, at a later date, "Great White Fleet."  These seem typical of a collection that was saved by somebody who had come to the city for the celebration.


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