Friday, November 20, 2015

The Golden State and the City of Light

France and California have a long and historic relationship, which began in the 18th century when French artist Gaspard Duche de Vancy traveled to California by sea, later painting the landscape of the future state in 1786.  In 1832 Jean-Louis Vignes purchased 104 acres of land between the Los Angeles Pueblo and the Los Angeles River, where he established a successful vineyard, becoming California’s first commercial winemaker.  In the mid-1840s the first French Consulate was established in Monterey.

The discovery of gold in 1848, combined with political instability in Paris sent 4,000 “Gallic Argonauts” to the Golden State between November 1849 and April 1851. Three years later, the number of French citizens in California had grown to between 25,000 - 30,000 individuals.

San Francisco was greatly influenced by this migration, especially in the areas of business, community institutions, art, fashion and food. Iconic companies such as the City of Paris department store and the Guittard Chocolate company endeared San Franciscans to the French - as only clothing and chocolate can - and contributed to the city’s becoming known as “the Paris of the Pacific.”

In the wake of the violence visited upon the people of Paris one week ago, CHS celebrates the longtime bonds between France and California and we send our heartfelt wishes to the people of the “City of Light.”
California Business Ephemera, “City of Paris,” courtesy, California Historical Society
Advertisement, La Charivari newspaper, [Paris, 1849-1850]
California Business Ephemera, E. Guittard & Co.courtesy, California Historical Society
California Ephemera, French Corral,courtesy, California Historical Society

California Business Ephemera, Paul Masson Winery/ Paul Masson Papers MS 1421
(both) courtesy California Historical Society
"The French residents commemorate a century of liberty" [Kearny near Post Street, 1876], photographed by Houseworth, courtesy, California Historical Society, CHS2015.2058
California Business Ephemera, City of Paris,courtesy, California Historical Society
California Business Ephemera, Taix French Restaurantcourtesy, California Historical Society
Le Guide Francais de Los Angeles et du Sud de La Californie,  Franco American Publishing Co. Los Angeles, 1932, courtesy California Historical Society

Alison Moore
Strategic Projects Liaison

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