Westward the course of empire takes its way

In Names on the Land, George Stewart writes that "the distinctive quality of California's later naming history was its self-consciousness," and illustrates this point with the story of Berkeley. In 1864, a site was chosen and forty acres purchased for a new college. A committee was appointed to find a name for the town, but no agreement could be reached. Searching for the perfect name, over a year and a half passed.

Frederick Law Olmsted, the famous landscape architect, proposed Peralta, the name of the original property owner. Peralta seemed perfect, even as a possible Latin motto for the university: Per Alta ("through the high things" --  especially appropriate for UC Berkeley it would seem).

And yet, even Peralta was passed over. A few days later, the trustees gathered on site for an informal meeting. Stewart relates that beneath a high sun on a clear spring day, watching out-bound ships cross the magnificent San Francisco Bay and out the Golden Gate, someone quoted George Berkeley: "Westward the course of empire takes its way."

Berkeley's full quote sits atop this incredible art-deco style pictorial map of the East Bay:

Stewart, George R. Names on the Land: a historical account of place-names in the United States. New York: 1946, p. 346-8.

Happy 80th birthday Golden Gate Bridge

Today marks the 80th anniversary of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge. Its completion in 1937 came one year after the opening of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in November, 1936. Both bridges were celebrated at the Golden Gate International Exposition held on Treasure Island in 1939-40.

The theme of the exposition was "Pageant of the Pacific," and it showcased the goods of nations bordering the Pacific Ocean. Embodying this theme was the "Tower of the Sun" and a giant, 80-foot statue of Pacifica, goddess of the Pacific ocean, both of which are marked on this guide map designed by Ruth Taylor:

Of course, construction of the bridges was not celebrated by all, especially railroad companies, which offered ferry services to their rail connections around San Francisco Bay; something we discussed in our Northwestern Pacific Marin County hiking map video: