Former Post Office, the rally of the "Law and Order" Party
May 1855
Gift of the Art Guild

Image area, bottom right: "Fardon"

This is one of a series of seven photographs, four of which appear in the Herre and Bauer Album, that Fardon made depicting a 360-degree view of the streets bordering Portsmough Square. Portsmouth Square, or "the Plaza," was the hub of San Francisco in the 1850s. It was contained within Washington Street to the north, Brenham Place to the west, Clay Street to the south, and Kearny Street to the east. The scene shown here, dated May 1855 by de Fremery [Jason De Fremery, owner of a specially comissioned copy of the Fardon album now held by Yale University], centers upon the two-story, six-bayed building across Kearny that served as the city Post Office from 1852 to 1855. Fardon positioned himself about halfway up the square in order to give the viewer a sense of the descent down the lower slope of the Clay Street (later Nob) Hill. Other points of interest in the photograph are the stagecoach office, the rather unkempt condition of the newly landscaped Plaza, the large number of posters or broadsides on the front of the Post Office building, and the street light on the corner, which was fueled by gas extracted from Australian coal. In 1856 the Post Office building would be used as the headquarters (or "rallying point" in de Fremery's meaning) for the Law and Order Party, which grew in opposition to the Vigilance Committee, whose headquarters were located some five blocks to the southeast. (Notes by Marvin R. Nathan, from his catalog raisonne in "San Francisco Album, Photographs, 1854-1856 by George Robinson Fardon, published by Fraenkel Gallery, 1999).

Used: Jacob Gundlach

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