Mexico City: 1890. 93,pp. Folio. Original pictorial wrappers. Light spotting to wrappers; short closed tear at top edge of front wrap; spine perishing; rear wrappers beginning to separate at lower joint. Occasional light foxing and light tanning internally. About very good. Item #1747
An attractive and rare Spanish language promotional and guide for San Francisco, with a Mexico City imprint but printed in the Bay Area in 1890. The author and publisher, José Francisco Godoy, was a dual national with an American mother and a Mexican father, who moved between the two countries for much of his life. In San Francisco in the 1870s and 1880s, he served multiple terms as the official California state translator, and published several novels and poems. In the late 1880s and early 1890s, he published the Mexico City newspaper El Ferrocarrilero, which claimed to be the only bilingual daily periodical in the country at that time. Following his adventures in publishing, Godoy joined the Mexican diplomatic corps, and served as Consul in San Francisco, as well as in several subsequent posts across the United States and Latin America.
The present promotional, with substantial text and extensive illustrations, was produced as an "Edicion Especial" for El Ferrocarrilero in Mexico City. As a raison d'être for the work, Godoy writes in his introduction that:
"Pocas son la ciudades de los Estados Unidos que son tan simpáticas é interesantes para los mexicanos como la de San Francisco, California. Nuestros compatriotas siempre manifestan vivismos deseos de conocerla, y algunos de ellos despues de haberla visitado ó se radican en ella ó vuelven gustosos á verla por segunda vez. Tambien diremos que en ese puerto gran número de nuestros comerciantes se suerten de efectos y por lo tanto, sobretodo en la costa del Pacifico, nuestras relaciones comerciales con San Francisco son muy estrechas. Razones so estas de suficiente peso para hacernos creer que nuestros paisanos leerán con algun interes estas páginas...."
The initial chapters of the work offer some of the usual information found in promotional publications, such as the population of the city, descriptions of notable buildings, figures regarding its growth, details of existing commercial and manufacturing businesses, and potential for new ventures. He also prints sections on public education, transportation, and climate in San Francisco. The whole is illustrated with twenty-five full-page steel engravings and many in-text illustrations, including a bird's-eye view of the city and a map of central California from San Luis Obispo to the Bay Area.
Godoy's work is particularly remarkable for its attention to the prosperity of foreign communities already in San Francisco and the prospects for potential immigrants. A chapter of the work is devoted to "Las Colonias Extrangeras," with specific attention given to the Irish, German, French, Mexican, and Chinese populations in the city. Concerning the Mexican community in San Francisco, he writes, in part, that:
"La colonia de es bastante numerosa, aunque desgraciadamente muchos de ellos no están en buena posicion pecuniaria. Sin embargo hay algunas familias acomodadas y la colonia se distingue por su amor á México, á donde siempre piensan volver, y por su deseo de mejorar su situacion. La mayor parte de las familias mexicanas radicades en San Francisco son de los Estados de Sonora y Sinaloa. Muchas personas de esos mismos Estados y del territorio de la Baja California van á pasar allí algunos meses."
The final part of the publication offers descriptions of thirty-three San Francisco businesses, some illustrated with engravings, including the Pacific Press Publishing Company that printed the present work. Also at the rear are several interesting advertisements for other works by Godoy, for subscriptions to El Ferrocarrilero, and for a San Francisco bookstore, Tauzy, Carvajal y Cia., who touts its extensive inventory books in Spanish and French.
An outstanding Mexican-American perspective on the prospects and attractions of San Francisco at beginning of the 1890s, and one of the very few Spanish language promotionals for California published in the second half of the 19th century, after it was lost to the United States in the Mexican-American War. Quite rare, we locate only four copies, at Berkeley, SFPL, UCLA, and the University of Texas.