California Academy of Sciences 150th Anniversary Celebration
150th Anniversary Celebration 150 Years: A Timeline 150 Years of Research The New Academy

150 Years: A Timeline1848-1905 | 1906-1941 | 1942-1976 | 1977-2003

The Academy’s timeline begins in the Gold Rush year of 1849. Gold sparked the growth of San Francisco, and led to the founding of the California Academy of Sciences.

From 1853 to 2003, “milestone” years offer glimpses of this institution’s resilience — how the Academy has been impacted by world events, how it has responded to change, and the promise of its future.

1849 - Louis Boudin creates
San Francisco sourdough bread
1849
THE RUSH IS ON!

Eighty thousand gold seekers, hailing from all over the world, will come through San Francisco this year.

All of them are on their way to the Sierra foothills, hoping to strike it rich in California’s gold country!

 

 

1850
BEYOND GOLD: CALIFORNIA’S
OTHER NATURAL RICHES

On September 9th, California becomes the 31st state.

Many of the plant and animal species in the new state are unknown to science and the federal government begins to fund surveys of California’s natural resources.

1853 - Levi Strauss of San Francisco
sells canvas pants for miners
1853
A NEW ACADEMY TO
PROMOTE NATURAL SCIENCE

The California Academy of Natural Sciences is founded on April 4th, when seven gentlemen meet in a Montgomery Street office.

They propose to undertake "a thorough systematic survey of every portion of the State and the collection of a cabinet of her rare and rich productions."

1865 - Slavery is abolished in the US
1863
SURVEYING CALIFORNIA

Josiah D. Whitney, State Geologist and President of the Academy, heads the California State Geological Survey.

The survey’s purpose is to document natural resources for future economic development.

A field party names the state’s highest mountain peak Mount Whitney in honor of their chief.

1865 - Slavery is abolished in the US
1867 - Alaska purchased by US
1868
SCIENCE... AND ART!

An amendment to the constitution deletes the word “Natural” from the Academy’s title.

“This should quell any notion that Academy interests should be confined to natural history, rather than entertaining any and all subjects related to science or art.”

1874
THE FIRST PUBLIC MUSEUM
IN SAN FRANCISCO

Crowded by growing collections and visitors, the Academy moves into a building on the corner of California and Dupont (now Grant Avenue).

A woolly mammoth exhibit is part of a natural history collection purchased for the Academy by Charles Crocker and Leland Stanford. Annual attendance grows to 80,000 visitors.

1886 - The Statue of Liberty is dedicated
1883
THE ACADEMY"S FIRST
WOMEN CURATORS

In its first year of existence, the Academy adopted a formal resolution: “…we highly approve of the aid of females in every department of natural science, and invite their cooperation.”

This year, botanist Mary Katharine Curran becomes the Academy’s first paid curator. One year later Rosa Smith becomes the first female curator of Ichthyology in any natural history museum.

1890 - Yosemite and Sequoia
National Parks are established
1891
A GRAND MUSEUM
ON MARKET STREET

Two years after laying the cornerstone, the Academy opens a new museum on Market Street, between 4th and 5th Streets.

1894 - Midwinter International Exposition
in Golden Gate Park
1896
A VIBRANT CENTER FOR SCIENCE

Always a hub for lively discourse, the Academy attracts scientists from the University of California and Stanford.

An Academy tradition of academic collaboration begins when David Starr Jordan, a world renowned ichthyologist and first president of Stanford University, is elected President of the Academy.

1903 - Wright brothers make
the first powered flight
1903
PACIFIC VOYAGE: RACING AGAINST EXTINCTION

Scientists find that island species worldwide are rapidly disappearing.

The Academy launches its first expedition to Mexico’s Revillagigedo Islands. The urgent purpose of this exploration is to document island plants and animals for science before they become extinct.

 

California Academy of Sciences 150th Anniversary Celebration