Alviso (Images of America: California)

The old port town of Alviso, nestled in the southernmost point of San Francisco Bay, was busy long before the gold rush. It began in the 1700s as a landing for Mission Santa Clara, where Californios drove oxcarts heavy with cowhides and tallow to load aboard ships bound for New England and Europe. Later immigrants disembarked from paddle-wheel steamers to establish farms and businesses throughout the South Bay. Quicksilver from the New Almaden mines, lumber from the Santa Cruz Mountains, and grains and produce of the Santa Clara Valley all passed over these weathered docks. Several prominent entrepreneurs, including James Lick, got a foothold here, and its yacht harbor, now echoing only the slap of wasteblackened marsh water on mud-bound boats, once drew the likes of Jack London to its colorful saloons, gambling dens, and bordellos.


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