Sunday, February 12, 2017

San Francisco Then & Now – The Old Mint: 12 February 2017

The San Francisco Mint was opened in 1854 to manufacture gold coins from gold bullion produced during the California Gold Rush. The mint soon needed a bigger building to process and store the large quantities of gold bullion it was receiving. In 1869 the mint moved to a larger building located at 88 5th Street at Mission Street. That building is now known as the Old Mint, and it is one of the few buildings that survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. The damage caused to San Francisco by the 18 April 1906 earthquake pales in comparison to the devastation caused by the fifty-two fires that burned through the city for more than three days. There were 315 people killed outright, and 28,000 buildings were destroyed, most by fire. 

The Old Mint was designed by Alfred B. MullettHe planned a building which was built around an enclosed central courtyard that contained a water well, a feature that helped save the building during the fires of April 1906. The building was constructed on a concrete base, the objective of which was to thwart tunneling into the mint's vaults. At the time of the 1906 fire the mint held $300 million dollars in gold, a third of the United States’ gold reserves. Heroic efforts by the employees of the mint saved the building and the gold bullion stored in its vaults. The mint resumed operation soon thereafter. The Old Mint continued to function until 1937 when the currently operating mint was opened on Hermann Street in San Francisco. 



    The Old Mint THEN: 1885. Note the horse-drawn streetcar. The view is looking southwest. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

    The Old Mint NOW: 12 February 2017Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

 The Old Mint THEN: 18 April 1906. The view is looking southeast

 The Old Mint NOW: 12 February 2017Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

The Old Mint sits forlorn amidst total devastation, after it survived both the earthquake and fire. This picture was taken soon after the 18 April 1906 earthquake and fire. The camera was attached to a kite; the view is looking northwest. Click on the image to see the full-size photograph.

“A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.” -Dorothea Lange


The first volume of the San Francisco Bay Area Photo Blog contains galleries of photographs that were posted on the Internet between 2002 and 2011. Click Here to view those photo galleries.

Panasonic GX7 camera body mounted with a Panasonic 14-42mm lens was used to take these photographs.

Question or comment? I may be reached at neil@mishalov.com