Street Names Have Historic Role in City's Colorful Past

By George Harlan and Larry Clinton, Sausalito Historical Society

By George Harlan and Larry Clinton, Sausalito Historical Society

In 1950, The Sausalito News was getting questions about the history of some of the street names in our town.  For answers, they turned to George Harlan Sr., the former president of the Marin Historical Society, dean of the Marin County Bar Association, a resident of Sausalito for 72 years, and son of California pioneers who were among the first local residents to purchase property here. Here are excerpts from Harlan’s article:

RICHARDSON: Of course, Richardson street was named in honor of William A. Richardson, the first mate of the English whaler, “L’Oriente.’’ History tells us that in 1822, Richardson, by reason of his knowledge of Spanish, was ordered by the master of the ‘‘L’Oriente”, to go ashore at the Presidio to speak with Lt. Ignacio Martinez for wood and water and other supplies to be furnished to the ship which had been three years in Arctic. Richardson became so enamoured of the beautiful daughter of the commandante, Maria Martinez, that he determined to live in California and win the hand of Maria. He returned to California a few years later, and won the hand of beautiful Maria. He also obtained the grant of the “Rancho Saucelito,” where he built the first water works at the springs at the head of the street which bears his name, at what is now West and Richardson streets.

PRINCESS: In 1868, the Sausalito Land and Ferry Company started its first land surveys here, and also it was in this year that the company bought the little stem wheeler, the “Princess,” which plied between Meiggs wharf (at the foot of Powell Street) in San Francisco, and which landed here at the company’s “new wharf” at 660 Bridgeway.

BULKLEY: The first map of the [Land and Ferry] company was made by Colonel Charles S. Bulkley, and so Bulkley avenue, which at that time was surveyed from the Harrison intersection (O’Connell Seat location), across town to San Carlos avenue and what is now Glen drive, bore the name of this pioneer map maker. Bulkley was assisted by surveyors S. R. Throckmorton, Jr., whose father at that time had control of the Richardson Rancho. and L. H. Shortt, the civil engineer who drew up the final map for the land company, the original of which was filed in the Marin County Recorder’s Office on April 26. 1869. When the company was incorporated in 1869, officers elected included Maurice Dore, president; John L. Romer, vice president; George G. W. Morgan, secretary; and William Thompson, treasurer. Incorporators included W. K. Spencer, and A. G. Easterby. Charles H. Harrison Henry A. Cobb, Gen. Thomas N. Cazneau, Leonce Girard, Judge John Currey, William A. Woodward, H. B. Platt, D. P. Belknap, and Frank A. Bee. The company surveyors evidently had a “field day" for their selection of street names, although it is surprising that the company’s first president is modestly missing from the roster of street names.

HARRISON: Charles H. Harrison, for many years the president of the Sausalito Land and Ferry Company, was an original incorporator and a director of the firm. Harrison Avenue is named after him, and in later years, he was elected as one of the town’s first trustees upon its incorporation in 1893. But owing to political differences with board members James W. Sperry and Col. J. H. Dickinson, he served only one term.

COBB: Henry A. Cobb, Sr., was in private life, an auctioneer, and at one time was a general in the militia. In the 60's, an auctioneer was a highly important personage, and in San Francisco, this was an extremely profitable business. As a company incorporator he had a lot to say in the formulation of company policies.

EDWARDS: Gen. Cobb’s son. Major H. A. Cobb, Jr., was the brother-in-law of J. W. Harrison, who, together with William Edwards, laid out the Edwards-Harrison tract, between the Fort Baker military reservation and the Land and Ferry Company property boundary at North Street. Thus, Edwards avenue received its name. Major Cobb resided for many years next to the Ritchie home on Cazneau avenue, and took an active interest in local property development.

MARION: Marion Harrison, the daughter of J. W. Harrison, had a street named after her, but the naming of Alexander Avenue is lost to my recollection,

ROMER: Vice president of the Sausalito Land and Ferry Company upon its founding was John L. Romer, who was one of the incorporators of the land company which advertised in its real estate prospectus that the concern was organized to sell residential lots to persons “seeking a quiet rural home in a lovely place.”

SPENCER: As one of the incorporators of the company, W. K. Spencer was also entitled to recognition, and the surveyors dutifully dedicated a street to his honor.



Princess Street in 1910: hardly the fast track.                        Photo courtesy of Sausalito Historical Society