The Barbary Coast: An Informal History of the San Francisco Underworld

The Barbary Coast: An Informal History of the San Francisco Underworld

by Herbert Asbury
     
 

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The history of the Barbary Coast properly begins with the gold rush to California in 1849. If the precious yellow metal hadn't been discovered ... the development of San Francisco's underworld in all likelihood would have been indistinguishable from that of any other large American city. Instead, owing almost entirely to the influx of gold-seekers and the horde of…  See more details below

Overview


The history of the Barbary Coast properly begins with the gold rush to California in 1849. If the precious yellow metal hadn't been discovered ... the development of San Francisco's underworld in all likelihood would have been indistinguishable from that of any other large American city. Instead, owing almost entirely to the influx of gold-seekers and the horde of gamblers, thieves, harlots, politicians, and other felonious parasites who battened upon them, there arose a unique criminal district that for almost seventy years was the scene of more viciousness and depravity, but which at the same time possessed more glamour, than any other area of vice and iniquity on the American continent. The Barbary Coast is Herbert Asbury's classic chronicle of the birth of San Francisco—a violent explosion from which the infant city emerged full-grown and raging wild. From all over the world practitioners of every vice stampeded for the blood and money of the gold fields. Gambling dens ran all day including Sundays. From noon to noon houses of prostitution offered girls of every age and race. (In the 1850s, San Francisco was home to only one woman for every thirty men. It was not until 1910 that the sexes achieved anything close to parity in their populations.) This is the story of the banditry, opium bouts, tong wars, and corruption, from the eureka at Sutter's Mill until the last bagnio closed its doors seventy years later.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This 1933 title could be called The Gangs of San Francisco. Like the author's previous The Gangs of New York, which spawned the recent film of the same name, it is a history of one city's underworld in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781560254089
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
10/28/2002
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
507,414
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)

Meet the Author


Herbert Asbury (1891–1963) was a prolific journalist and editor. His books include Carry Nation, All Around the Town, and The French Quarter. Thunder’s Mouth Press is also publishing The Gangs of Chicago and The Gangs of New York.

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