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A City Built on Hills: San Francisco from 1880 to 1940  

Charles A. Fracchia This course will examine the city’s history from the end of the Silver Age to the end of the Great Depression. It will include the antipathy towards the Chinese, the rise of “bossism” and corrupt city government, the reform of James D. Phelan, the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, the rebuilding of the city, the world’s fairs of 1894 and 1939-1940, labor strife, and the impact of the Great Depression. Students will be exposed to this dynamic and creative period in San Francisco’s past. It will trace many of today’s characteristics and traditions during the late 1920s and early 20th centuries. 1) The end of the Silver Age and the 1880s 2) The California Midwinter Fair, The reform of Phelan 3) The corruption of the Union Labor Party, The Earthquake and Fire of 1906 4) The destroyed city and its rebuilding 5) The Age of Ralph (1911-1931) 6) World War I, The PPIE, The 1920s and the 1930s Charles A. Fracchia is a native San Franciscan who was educated at the University of San Francisco (USF); USF Law School; University of California, Berkeley; San Francisco State University; and the Graduate Theological Union/Berkeley. He spent 20 years in the investment banking and investment advisory business before becoming an academic. (One of his notable corporate finance clients was the publication, Rolling Stone, of which he was a founder.) Fracchia was a trustee of the California Historical Society for 20 years and is the founder and President Emeritus of the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society. He has written 14 books (5 on San Francisco history) and numerous articles.


  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at San Francisco State University
    835 Market Street, Sixth Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103
    Phone: (415) 817-4243 Website: