California Timeline

1500s - 1600s
  • (1533) Two ships landed at Baja in La Paz Harbor, local residents killed 20 and ships retreated
  • (1535) Hernando Cortes led expedition to La Paz, established small colony
  • (1540) Sea expedition led by Hernando de Alarcon up Gulf of California to mouth of Colorado River, became first Europeans on California soil
  • (1542) Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo became the first European to explore California, landed at San Diego, discovered Catalina Islands, sites of San Pedro and Santa Monica and Santa Barbara Channel Islands
  • (1579) Sir Francis Drake landed north of San Francisco Bay, claimed the territory for England
  • (1669) Gaspar de Portolb, governor of the Californias, led an expedition up the Pacific coast, established California's first mission on San Diego Bay
  • (1769) Sargeant Jose Ortega discovered entrance to San Francisco Bay
  • (1776) Presidio of San Francisco and Mission Dolores founded
  • (1812) Russian fur traders established Fort Ross
  • (1821) Mexico won independence from Spain.
  • (1826) Native Americans attacked Mission San Francisco Solano
  • (1848) Gold discovered at Sutter's sawmill in Coloma
  • (1849) California Gold Rush began; California became U. S. property with Treaty of Guadalupe
  • (1849) Fire devastated San Francisco
  • (1850) California became 31st state
  • (1869) First westbound train arrived in San Francisco
  • (1882) Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, barring all Chinese immigration
  • (1900) Oil discovered along Kern River
  • (1906) San Francisco earthquake killed more than 3,000, left 225,000 homeless
  • (1910) Angel Island opened, entry point to U. S. for immigrants
  • (1911) Women won right to vote
  • (1928) California Hockey League created
  • (1928) Great Highway and Ocean Beach Esplanade in San Francisco completed
  • (1933) Long Beach earthquake caused widespread damage throughout southern California; Alcatraz made a prison
  • (1934) Bloody Thursday riots took place in San Francisco
  • (1936) San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opened
  • (1936) Golden Gate Bridge completed
  • (1936) Parker Dam completed
  • (1942) Japanese Americans relocated to U.S. concentration camps; Japanese submarine shelled an oil field near Goleta.
  • (1945) United Nations Charter signed in San Francisco
  • (1952) Bakersfield hit by earthquake, caused over $50 million in property damage
  • (1969) Native Americans occupied Alcatraz Island
  • (1969) Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk shot and killed
  • (1989) 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit Bay Area
  • (1992) California became first state to elect two women to U.S. Senate - Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein
  • (2000) Electricity crisis caused blackouts and large rate increases
  • (2002) Angels won first World Series championship
  • (2003) Governor Davis recalled; Arnold Schwarzenegger elected
  • (2004) Former President, Ronald Reagan, died at age 93
  • (2006) Former President, Gerald Ford, died at age 93
  • (2007) Wildfires forced evacuation of over half million residents, 400,000 acres burned, 1,300 homes destroyed
  • (2008) Two-train collision killed 25, injured over 130
  • (2011) Jerry Brown sworn in as new governor, served as governer from 1975 to 1983
  • (2011) Massive power cut caused blackouts in California, Arizona and Mexico, over 5 million people affected
  • (2011) New law enacted allowing illegal immigrants to receive state aid for college
  • (2011) Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs, died
  • (2011) Anti-corporate greed demonstrators shut down Port of Oakland
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California Photographs

Alcatraz Cortez Francis Drake Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco Earthquake Sutters Mill