The History of the California Academy of Sciences

December 2, 2015 by  
Filed under Travel

By Phin Upham

One of the sites most devastated by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake was the California Academy of Sciences. The site had been a rich a collection of scientific specimens, and a library of research materials and knowledge. It was reduced to a literal pile of rubble, with not more than a wheelbarrow full of recovered materials.

The Academy was founded in 1853, just three years after California officially became part of the US. It was founded with the goal of cataloguing every detail that the region of the United States had to offer. It also emphasized the collaboration of women in its endeavors.

A resolution was passed during its first year of operation that was quite forward thinking, with regards to the involvement of women in STEM. The academy wrote that it “highly approved” of hiring females for all levels of work during a time when women in science were relegated to menial tasks.

The museum wing of the Academy operation didn’t open until 1874, when it supposesdly drew up to 80,000 visitors every year. These curious visitors were treated to the museum’s intricate collection, which was lost to time during the earthquake. The good news for guests then (and now) is that the museum has housed several important exhibitions since then.

After the earthquake, the Academy site was reduced to rubble and had to be relocated. The new space was located in Golden Gate Park, and it has since contributed heavily to the sciences. Today, the public can witness some of those discoveries firsthand, including a fully-staffed research lab.

About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or Facebook page.


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