Neal Harlow

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: San Francisco Bay was discovered late, accidentally, and by land. Although a nearby bay had been known by this name since 1595, the modern harbor was first sighted by white men in 1769, and it made its dkbut on a coast chart in 1771. Remoteness, a natural camouflage, and chance withheld its discovery until one day it loomed unexpectedly across the path of an astonished party of landsmen who had overshot their Monterey goal. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, Francis Drake, Pedro de Unamuno, a line of galleon commanders (notably Sebastian Rodriguez Cermefio), and Sebastian Vizcaino had sailed past San Francisco during the two and a quarter centuries of North Pacific exploration which preceded the Bay’s discovery. Their urge to make a northing, concern for the ships’ safety, and a natural screen of fog and merging land forms shut off the Golden Gate from passing view. In the fall of 1769 the Spanish occupation of California brought a land party under Gaspar de Portola up the coast, making a point by point inspection in search of Vizcaino’s overpraised port of Monterey, and on the first clay of November they encountered the unknown bay, which interrupted their passage to Point Reyes.
Published in: NAVIGATION: Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 1, Number 4
Pages: 68 - 72
Cite this article: Harlow, Neal, "THE EARLY MAPS OF SAN FRANCISCO BAY PRIOR TO THE AMERICAN PERIOD (1769-1847)", NAVIGATION: Journal of The Institute of Navigation, Vol. 1, No. 4, 1946-1947, pp. 68-72.
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