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A Spirit of Independence

A book of the early history of Brisbane, California Introduction

I  Beginnings: 1800-1920

II A Town Called Brisbane: 1920-1940

III War and Development: 1940-1961

This World Wide Web document is a digitized reproduction of A Spirit of Independence, a book originally published in 1986 and reprinted in 1996 by the City of Brisbane, which reserves all rights to it.

You are welcome to download and print the booklet for personal use. You may also distribute it, either in digital or hard copy form, but you may not sell it in any way.

The online presentation of A Spirit of Independence was created by David Towle of the Nuggett BBS, and Albert Duro as a volunteer project. The City of Brisbane thanks David and Albert for their time, effort, and dedication.

David Towle: davidtowle@meer.net -- Albert Duro: albertd@slip.net.

This project would not have been possible without the support and cooperation of the Friends of the Brisbane Library.

The book itself was professionally produced by Oral History Associates of Sausalito, California, who gave form to what was truly a labor of love of the community of Brisbane. Many people contributed to making Spirit a great book and great history, but two in particular stand out: Dolores Gomez, who made the Brisbane Library the best little library in the state for as long as she ran it, and who ignited the flame of historical appreciation in the community, and the late Dorothy Radoff, who labored quietly for many years as the town's historian.

The book was out of print for many years, but the City of Brisbane has published a second edition. It can be purchased at the Brisbane City Hall, 50 Park Lane, Brisbane, CA. Phone: 415.467.1515. By happy coincidence the second edition came out in late November 1996, which also happened to be when this Web Site first opened, when the 35th anniversary of Brisbane's incorporation was celebrated, and when the original book's 10th anniversary was observed.

In both the PDF and Web versions, we strove to achieve an exact electronic duplication of the form of the book. In those aspects that we could not, we used the best approximation that the medium will allow. The content of the book, however, is faithfully reproduced.

Everything that follows is a reproduction of the book contents, except for horizontal links menus and YOU'RE@ markers.

A Spirit of Independence



Brisbane, California 94005
(415) 508-2100
FAX (415) 467-4989

 City Council

Steven W. Waldo, Mayor

W. Clarke Conway, Mayor Pro Tern

Cyril G. "Cy" Bologoff

Lee J. Panza

A. Sepi Richardson

November, 1996

Dear Reader:

This book, "A Spirit of Independence", was originally published in 1986 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the incorporation of Brisbane as a city. In the 10 years since its publication, response to this book, and demand for copies, far exceeded expectations and the original printing has been sold out for some time.

As part of this year's 35th anniversary celebration, the City has reprinted this book so that more people will be able to learn about our unique heritage and experience what Brisbane was like in the early years. As our community grows and changes it becomes more and more important that we maintain the links to our culture and our past. This is why, as part of the celebration of the 35th anniversary of the City's incorporation, we are focusing on a theme of preserving our historical and cultural heritage.

For myself and on behalf of the City Council, I would like to express my appreciation to those who contributed to the making of this book. Because they cared enough to share their experiences and preserve this history, we are able to look back into the world in which they lived.

I hope that you enjoy this book and appreciate its spirit as much as I do.


Steven W. Waldo Mayor

November, 1986

Dear Reader:

This book is called "Spirit of independence." It is being published as part of our 25th anniversary celebration which marks the 1961 incorporation of Brisbane as a city. However, Brisbane as a community started much, much before that. This book chronicles the recollections of our earliest residents beginning shortly after the 1906 earthquake and during the depression when' lots sold for $5.00 down and open land was all around us.

The recollections and anecdotes of our early pioneers recreate for us the feeling of that bygone era. Their struggles and dreams are kept alive for us in this book. Because of the generosity of the "old timers" in sharing their remembrances and stories about Brisbane, we can now share in their "spirit of independence". I would like to thank them for myself and on behalf of the City Council for their commitment to our town.

While this is a collaborative community effort, I would like to especially commend our city librarian, Dolores Gomez, and our city historian, Dorothy Radoff, in appreciation of their leadership and their help, not only with this book but with their ongoing efforts in preserving the history of Brisbane. This book, the tapes and transcriptions will become a part of the library's permanent collection and will provide an opportunity to retain and share our legacy with new residents and with our neighboring communities.

There is all old saying "You can't know where you're going if you don't know where you've been." As Brisbane prepares to face its future, I feel it is important that we continue to be aware of our roots as a community. In this way, we can keep sight of our vision of what Brisbane is and what it should be. It was for this reason that this volume was published.

I hope that you enjoy this book and share the sense of pride I feel in being your neighbor and your Mayor in Brisbane.



Fred Smith


City Council Fred Smith, Mayor; Raymond C. Miller, Mayor Pro-Tem; Tony Attard; Lewis E. Graham; Jeannine Jones Hodge

Photographs courtesy of the City of Brisbane Library Historical Collection