1849 to 1851 the face of Portsmouth Square changed
dramatically. The flow of gold and argonauts into
San Francisco created a frenzied spurt of inflation
and speculation. One lot on the square sold for
$16.50 in 1847, resold for $6,000 in early 1848,
and then resold again later the same year for $45,000.
Buildings, many made primarily of tent canvas, were
thrown up chock-a-block around its perimeter, many
in as few as 10 days. The sleepy village of 900
pioneers in early 1848 became a hungry, bustling
throng of over 20,000 by the end of 1849.
Walking San Francisco on the Barbary Coast Trail