The Golden Gate

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Explorer and U. S. Army surveyor Captain John Fremont, an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency in 1856 and later a Civil War general, gave the Golden Gate its name in 1846. He was comparing San Francisco Bay to the harbor at Constantinople known as the Golden Horn. The entrance to San Francisco Bay had been found in a 1769 Spanish land expedition led by Jose de Ortega, who didn’t appreciate his discovery because he was anxiously focused on locating Monterey Bay instead. Six years later Juan Manuel Ayala and Jose Canizares explored the San Francisco Bay by ship, which led to the establishment of the presidio and Mission de los Dolores there in 1776. The Spaniards called the entrance to the bay La Boca del Puerto de San Francisco (The Mouth of the Port of St. Francis). During the California Gold Rush, the Golden Gate was both the major port of entry and departure for prospectors arriving or leaving by sea. John Fremont and his almost equally famous wife Jessie Benton Fremont, built a home “in the shadow of the Golden Gate” in the mid-1850s and lived there until the family moved East at the outbreak of the Civil War.

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