Monthly SF History Live Presentation: The Spanish Settlement of San Francisco

Presented by Steve Johnson
Tuesday, May 14th at 6:30PM (Live-broadcast & In-person; A Free Ticket is Required)

The Portolá and Anza expeditions were instrumental in the settlement of what was later to become a major city in the United States. What motivated the Spanish to move north into Alta, California? Who were the first settlers? What was their journey like? What happened to the native tribes who had been here for many hundreds of years? These questions and more will be answered as you hear about the Spanish origins of our city.

Steve Johnson received his degree in U.S. history from San Francisco State University and was a teacher for 35 years. He is president of the Pacifica Historical Society and leads historical walking tours of downtown San Francisco and the Presidio.

Register for your free ticket here:

Please note that in-person attendees should arrive by 6PM to accommodate the filming.

Watch the Re-broadcast!
SF History Live: The Heroes of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. Presented by Jack Grippi Tuesday. Apr. 9th, 2024

In this month we commemorate the 118th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. During and after the city’s near complete destruction, numerous heroic stories abound of ordinary citizens, government employees, military personnel, and first responders who rose above great odds and placed themselves in mortal danger to save infrastructure, lives, or institutions. Their actions are inspiring, and their stories deserve to be remembered.

Jack Grippi is a native New Yorker who adopted San Francisco since retiring in 2014. After receiving his M.S. in geology from the University at Albany, Jack worked as a Petroleum Geologist for Occidental Oil and Gas. He now leads walking tours for SF City Guides and the SFHS.

Watch the show here:

Summer Art Workshop (Week-long Camp)

SFHS Victorian Summer Camp 2024
The workshop will be taught by veteran art teacher Cindy Hodges. Ms Hodges is currently a highschool teacher in San Mateo School District and offers art tutoring to students. In addition to learning about the history of Victorian homes, the different styles of Victorians, and the names of architectural features, participants will learn basic drawing and painting techniques using a variety of materials. The culminating project guides students to select a style of Victorian to draw and a winning color scheme and create their own “painted lady.”

The Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday workshops will take place at the SFHS Museum, 608 Commercial Street, San Francisco in our main gallery.

All levels of artistic skill are welcome!

SFHS will provide all art supplies and healthy snacks for workshop attendees. Please pack a lunch for your child each day.

Please drop off between 9:45 and 9:55am. SFHS staff members will be there to greet them. Pick-up time is 1:25-1:35pm.

The Wednesday field trip will take place at Alamo Square and includes a tour of a Victorian home followed by a picnic.

Camp Dates:

• July 8-12 (Monday through Friday)

• July 15-19 (Monday through Friday)

• July 22-26 (Monday through Friday)

Sign up here:

Walking Tours

Our walking tours provide a first-hand experience of San Francisco’s history. Tours include historical themes that embrace San Francisco’s rich history with subject experts who led the tours. We know you’ll in joy learning about the City’s iconic history with tours that include the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, Fisherman’s Wharf, the gold rush, the Barbary Coast to name a few.

**** Additional Tour Information ***

General public admission, $20 per person (non-members) -Additional donations at checkout are always appreciated and keep the ticket price low.

Free for members with 100% off discount code. Check your SF History E-newsletter, which goes out the first week of every month, for the membership code. Apply at check-out.

Please note that Unspeakable Vice tour general admission tickets at $30 each and $10 for members. Attendees must be age 21.

Tour length: Approximately 90 minutes

Maximum attendees: 20 people on a first-come,first serve basis

In case of rain, tour will be rescheduled

historical SF harbor


If you need any assistance, please email Chris Griffith at

Fisherman’s Wharf Tour

Join us for an exploration of Fisherman’s Wharf, the most popular free attraction in San Francisco, to discover how commercial fishing coexists with the modern tourist Mecca. Learn how Native Americans, Chinese, Italians, whaling sea captains, and sport fishermen all have harvested seafood from the waters of San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

Starting at the Musée Mécanique at Pier 45, we will walk to the Maritime Museum at Aquatic Park, a flat, under-two-hour stroll. Along the way, you’ll hear stories about World War II ships, a San Francisco theatrical production called The Cable Car Nymphomaniac, and the crisis that “broke the mold” for Irish coffee glasses.

Saturday Tour Dates & Times Led by Corrie Conklin

• April 20th @ 11AM

• April 27th @ 11AM

• May 11th @ 11AM

• May 25th @ 11AM – CANCELED

• June 8th @ 11AM

• June 29th @ 11AM

Tour Dates & Times Led by Maggie Bening

Unavailable at this time

Make sure to meet at Musée Mécanique at Pier 45. Several parking garages located nearby.

Reserve your tickets at

1906 Earthquake and Fire: Chinatown’s Devastation and Renewal

Before dawn on April 18, 1906, the San Andreas Fault ruptured, sending shock waves racing across San Francisco. The city was abruptly wakened to witness a firestorm that would last three days and destroy almost everything within sight. Vibrant and densely populated Chinatown was swiftly engulfed by a raging fire on Day One, its inhabitants dispersed like embers in the wind. With Chinatown destroyed, city politicians and power brokers decided that this was an opportune time to relocate the Chinese community. Powered by an irrepressible resilience, the Chinese community re-imagined Chinatown and built it back better.

Tours led by Jack Grippi

Tour Dates & Times:

Saturday, April 20th @ 11AM

Saturday, May 4th @ 11AM

Saturday, June 15th @ 11AM

Register at

Gold Rush and Sunken Ships

Experience how San Francisco went from a trading village to a metropolis. You’ll learn about the hidden remains of sunken ships and artifacts from the Gold Rush.

Tours led by expert, Thom Jackson or Gloria Lenhart

Tour Dates & Times:

Saturday, April 27th @ 11AM

Saturday, May 25th @ 11AM

Saturday, June 15th @ 11AM

Register at

Secrets and Stories of San Francisco’s “Wall Street of the West”

Travel back in time to discover the stories and significance of the companies and people whose names adorn Financial District buildings. In addition to Silver Kings, the Big Four, and renowned bankers, this tour will introduce you to many others who “mined the miners” to create wealth beyond any normal imagination.

Tours led by Thom Jackson

Tour Dates & Times:

Friday, May 24th @ 11AM

Friday, June 14th @ 11AM

Register at

Barbary Coast and Jackson Square: Pleasure Seekers and Merry Makers

Explore the beginnings of the “anything goes” city through its culture, food, and vice. Is it so different today? Discover how the City by the Bay reflects its glorious past and continues as a trend-setting urban playground.

Tours led by historian experts, Corrie Conklin and Carolyn Moniz.

Tour Dates & Times:

• Saturday, April 6

• Saturday, May 25

• Saturday, June 15

Register at

Unspeakable Vice: Queer North Beach Before the Castro

Starting at the San Francisco Historical Society, we’ll zig zag our way by more than a dozen lost queer bars, concluding with a round of drinks at the site an infamous lesbian hook-up spot on Grant. Hear how the “unspeakable vice” of the Victorians found its place and, through the process, gained a voice. Starts at 608 Commercial St. and ends at Maggy McGary’s pub at 1353 Grant Ave in North Beach. This exciting new tour includes a free drink at Maggy McGary’s, included in the tour price.

Notes: 21+, Limit 1 free drink per guest, Maggy McGary’s end 1353 Grant Ave

Limit 1 free drink per guest.

Tours led by expert, Shawn Sprockett

Tour Dates & Times:

Saturday, March 23rd @ 11AM

Saturday, April 6th @ 11AM

Saturday,April 20th @ 11AM

Saturday, May 11th @ 11AM

Saturday, June 22nd @ 11AM

Register at

Gold Rush Walks for KidsWalking-tour-san-francisco-historical-society-barbary-coast Gold Rush Walks for Kids

Our trained guides offer free walking tours for elementary school focused on the Gold Rush. This walk directly addresses grade 4 social studies standards, but students in grades 3–6 are welcome to attend. Please call 415-537-1105, Ext. 6, for more details.

Self-Guided Walking Tours

Tours of ‘Old Town’ SF
Not up for an in-person event yet? Give our self-guided walking tours a try. These walks also begin at 608 Commercial Street. You can download them for free on the App Store or Google Play. Search for “City Explorer San Francisco” and look for the walks with the SFHS logo. Or, scan the QR code with your smartphone or tablet.

SFHS Virtual Walking Tours

Self-Guided Tours Led by SF High School Students

Walking Tours of Golden Gate Park!
Walking tours of Golden Gate Park led by San Francisco high school students, the winners of the 2020 Fracchia Prize, are now available as mobile apps. Download the walks for free and start exploring “Everyone’s Park,” with freshly minted historians as your guide. Choose from:

  • “Botany and Horticulture: Symbols of Flourishing Against the Odds” by Winnie Quock, George Washington High School (1st Place Winner)
  • “Horticultural History: Learning About San Francisco’s Past Through the Garden Gems of the City’s Favorite Park” by Indigo Mudbhary, Lick-Wilmerding High School (2nd Place Winner)

* COMING SOON * “It’s a Ringer! One Perfect Day in Golden Gate Park” by 3rd Place Winner Luke Zeponni, Abraham Lincoln High School

SFHS Virtual Walking Tour - Golden Gate Park

* Special thanks to SFHS Volunteer Gloria Lenhart for creating our mobile history apps. *