Portolá Festival 1909

The Portolá Festival of 10/19-23/1909 marked the 140th anniversary of Gaspar de Portolá's discovery of San Francisco Bay. The first major San Francisco event after the 1906 earthquake and fire, it celebrated the city's rapid recovery and demonstrated San Francisco's ability to host the planned 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. The Portola Festival by Harry K. Charles Jr. gives an overview of Portolá Festival postcards. Almost all of the postally used cards on this page are postmarked just before or during the Festival.



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Left: Mitchell, postmarked 9/28/1909. Center: Pacific Novelty, postmarked 10/02/1909, written in German script; same recipient as Britton & Rey 9008 below. Right: Mitchell, written 10/11/1909.



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San Francisco lithographers Britton & Rey produced a set of eight official Festival postcards (9008-9015). 9010, 9012, and 9015 superimpose the same group of revelers on San Francisco views. The backs of 9009, 9010, and 9011 give data about the city and the fire; the backs of 9008, 9012, and 9015 provide information about Portolá. Left: Britton & Rey 9009 (Union Square). Next: Britton & Rey 9008, postmarked 10/21/1909, shows the official Festival poster design. Variant Britton & Rey 9008 (not shown) is almost identical, but with solid red lettering rather than outline blue. Next: Britton & Rey 9008, postmarked 11/23/[year not printed, presumably 1909], variant with added toast by President Taft at top. Right: Britton & Rey 9010 (Market Street at night), postmarked 10/16/1909. This image superimposes foreground revelers and the Portolá crest onto Britton & Rey 1109. The large illuminated crest decorated the Ferry Building tower in 1908, not during the Portolá Festival in 1909.



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Left: Close examination of Britton & Rey 9012 (Cliff House) reveals that it is based Britton & Rey 1094; see Cliff House: Portolá Festival 1910. Center: Britton & Rey 9011 (Chinatown), decorated with glitter, shows a Chinese dragon parade passing Nanking Fook Woh at Dupont/Sacramento; see Chinatown: Hang Far Low. Right: Britton & Rey 9015 (Golden Gate). The insets on 9012 and 9015 identify Virgilia Bogue as Carnival Queen (not Festival Queen).



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These cards show the Festival parade on Market Street on 10/21/1909. Left: Pacific Novelty P13, RPPC looking NE toward Chronicle Building at Market/Kearny. Center: Dickenson & Scott, postmarked 5/01/1910, looking W at Market/Post, advertising the Crocker Bank's safe deposit vaults. Right: Pacific Novelty P17, RPPC showing Chinese dragon.



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