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1840s San Francisco and the Astonishing Legacy of America's "First Black Millionaire" Tour

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Civic leader, diplomat, hotelier, and entrepreneur William Leidesdorff was the “life and soul” of early San Francisco and did much to establish it as a place for business and American power on the eve of the Gold Rush.  His untimely demise in 1848 started a race to control the vast fortune of this remarkable man who concealed his biracial identity for much of his life.  We’ll visit the sites of his many achievements, from bustling wharves and luxury hotels to the foundations of California’s first public school.  Along the way, we’ll weigh his impact on early San Francisco, consider the battle to control his legacy, and visit several public works of art that attempt to reflect and sometimes direct his fascinating story.

Meet on Commercial Street, just east of Montgomery, where the location of the original shoreline from 1850 is painted in bright colors on the street.