Gold Rush City

Neighborhood: Downtown


“Gold! Gold from the American River!”, shouted San Francisco businessman Sam Brannan, as he ran down Montgomery Street in May,1848, waving a jar filled with gold over his head, sparking the Gold Rush. As word spread rapidly around the world, the tiny village of San Francisco, tucked amidst massive sand dunes by the Bay, and frequented by grizzly bears and mountain lions, was transformed virtually overnight into a booming instant city.

Learn about the incredible fires, gangs, vigilantes, shanghaiing, the Pony Express and the larger-than-life characters, like Mark Twain, Emperor Norton, and Levi Strauss, who walked the famously muddy streets. Walk above the fleet of abandoned ships, still full of cargo, buried beneath today’s skyscrapers. Hear how the Gold Rush sparked the largest peacetime migration in world history, catapulting California into statehood. Discover how treasure seekers converged from over a dozen nations around the world with diverse languages and customs to create the dynamic and tolerant character of the multi ethnic city we see today.

Reservations are required.


Next Tours

  • Wednesday, May 19 at 1:30 pm given by Harlan HirschfeldSign Up
  • Sunday, May 23 at 1:30 pm given by Peter VlietSign Up
  • Sunday, May 30 at 2:00 pm given by Tim ElamSign Up
View Calendar


Tour Length: Approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours


Meet on the northeast corner of Clay & Montgomery at the Transamerica Pyramid.

Reservations are required.


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Please note: Private groups tours required for groups of 8 or more.