With the recent installation of Marie Equi's bronze plaque as part of the city's Rainbow Honor Walk, I thought you might be interested in Marie Equi's first visit to San Francisco.
The year was 1897. Equi and her girlfriend, Bessie Holcomb, left their Central Oregon homestead for the "Queen of the Pacific," as San Francisco was known. They took Southern Pacific's California Express from Portland, crossing the San Francisco Bay at Carquinez Strait in a ferry long enough to accomodate all the train cars. A few hours later, they reached the Oakland Mole, an immense wooden causeway that jutted into the the bay toward San Francisco. Passengers disembarked for ferries and the final leg of their journey. The newly built Ferry Building with its slender, graceful clock tower was set to open later in the year. Their ferry docked nearby.
Equi and Holcomb took rooms on Market Street in the seven-story Donohoe Building, one of the better addresses a dozen blocks from the Ferry Building. The department store Weinstock & Lubin filled the street level of the building. Equi took a cashier position at Miss Tillie Taylor's restaurant on Post Street. The elite Olympic Club faced Miss Taylor's establishment.
In 1899 Equi began her medical training first at the College of Physicians and Surgeons located at 14th and Valencia Streets. In the autumn of 1900 she transferred to the new campus of the University of California Medical Department, located on a fog-swept hill overlooking Golden Gate Park. Her studies were in one of three buildings that were linked to the city by a single trolley line.
Something apparently went awry during Equi's second year of study, and she chose to complete her medical studies at yet another school and in another city, Portland. She graduated in 1903 from the University of Oregon Medical Department.
Equi made several other significant trips to San Francisco. Look for more installments, culminating in Equi's stay on Barbary Lane (er, Macondray Lane) after serving time in San Quentin Prison.
Excerpts from "Marie Equi: Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions," Oregon State University Press, 2015. Available at bookstores and online.
Author Historian Activist