Yesterday was Tony Bennett’s 84th birthday. In honor of the occasion let’s toast the city where he left his heart—San Francisco, the City by the Bay.
On Aug. 2, 1873, the first San Francisco cable car began operating, on Clay Street between Kearny and Jones. San Fran was the first and the last city in the world to operate cable cars. More than 100 other cities have tried them, but all the others have fallen by the wayside.
Fifty years later to the day, on Aug. 2, 1923, a United States President literally left his heart in San Francisco, when Warren G. Harding died of an embolism in the Palace Hotel. This was six days after he had suffered a heat stroke in Fairbanks, Alaska (it was 94 degrees in Alaska that day).
Later that night (11:43 p.m. in the West, 2:43 a.m. the next day in the East), Calvin Coolidge was sworn in by his father, a notary public, in Plymouth, Vt. When the stock market opened later in the morning, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped just a single point. One point on the death of a President!
Aug. 2 is significant to Californians for at least one other reason. On Aug. 2, 1769, the city of Los Angeles was founded as “Nuestra Senora la Rena de Los Angeles de Porciuncula.” (“Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of … Pork?” I like the shorter version better.)