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The dolmens and the menhirs which can still be found in the countryside nearby Lisbon substantiate the fact that the place has been inhabited since Neolithic ages. The development of the ancient city is owed to the interest several people, namely, the Iberians, the Celts and the Phoenicians, have harbored towards Lisbon.

Yet, the origins of Lisbon are sunken in legend, Ulysses being the alleged founder of the city.

Partie Septentrionale du Royaume de Portugal. Porto. De Vaugondy. c. 1750.

Portugal. 1750 map.

The long lasting dominion of the Romans and of the Moors has also left its mark on the city, reflected on the plethora of historical sights in Lisbon. Yet, the city became a political and economic force no sooner than the the modern era, when the entire Portugal flourished as a sea trade power.

May 22, 1870, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

London, May 20th. The following details of the insurrection in Portugal were published today: Castle St. George was captured after a sharp fight, wherein seven were killed and 30 wounded; the insurgents entered the Palace, and immediately resigned the command into the King's hands, who authorized them to form a new ministry. The coup d'tat was participated in or sympathized with by the people of Lisbon, Oporto and other cities.


London, May 21st.— Further details of the coup d-etat at Lisbon were read to-day. Despatches from Lisbon dated midnight, state that the Prime Minister, Duke de Soule, refused to sign a decree appointing Gen. Saldanha as Prime Minister and requesting him to reorganize the Cabinet.

February 13, 1873, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, U.S.A.

King Amadeus. Vanity Fair Spy Cartoon. 1872.

An Italian frigate sailed for Lisbon to meet Amadeus and convey him to this country. Another man-of-war has gone to Valencia to bring away the ex-King's attendants and court equipment. King Amadeus will remain at Lisbon till Spring with his wife and children

November 26, 1891, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

A Crisis in Portugal

Lisbon, November 25 -- It is reported that a crisis is imminent, involving the resignation of the cabinet.

January 2, 1892, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, U.S.A.


Tramp Across Portugal from Lisbon to Ayamonte. Lisbon's Charms are Those of Diversity Rather Than Magnificence — Spirited Harbor Scenes—The Streets, Parks and Architecture of the Ancient City.

[Special Correspondence of Record-Union — Copyright, Edgar L. Wakeman, 1892.]

Lisbon, December 16, 1891.

The Log of An Ancient Mariner. Edgar Wakeman.

It requires nearly four days of steamship travel from Southampton, England, to reach Lisbon, the seven-hilled city upon the broad Tagus.

The first land you will see is the grand promontory of Roca, the last upon which Columbus looked when, nearly 400 years ago, he sailed away from Lisbon with his three miserable little ships and his 120 men. Like a white dove's wings spread upon an emerald scarf, fair Cintra gleams against old Roca's sides. Shortly your steamer's course is changed to the east. Cascase is passed. You have entered a noble bay which is alone rivaled by that of Naples, and the horn of whose southern crescent terminates in lofty and somber Cape Ispichell. Mountains rise picturesquely to the north and east behind this crescent, parole and far and suggestive of illimitable lands beyond, where the great river makes its way through the nights from its sources round about the Spanish capital; emerald or puce where the sun, from its liquid bed in the west, lights the far forests and names the serried hights.

Renaissance Lisbon.

Quaint old outlying forts appear —fortresses of defense and salute. Then the outer bay narrows to the Ria de Lisboa, Lisbon's mouth, and a narrow mouth and throat they are, bristling with forts capable of perfect defense in these days without a fort at all, and alter a passage of perhaps six miles through this deep and narrow channel you have entered an inner harbor, twenty miles long, and from three to seven in width, where 20,000 ships could ride at anchor in water scarcely stirred by wave or ripple the whole year long.

Lisbon is set upon the hills along the northern shore. The entire estuary is edged with villages and villas. Here a church, gray and old, half shows from some verdure-clad detile. There a fishing town is checkered with white cottages and splatches of drying nets. Yonder a half-ruined monastery, with its little hamlet of houses creeping up to its walls like patient beggars for protection and alms, tells its story of suppression and conversion to workaday use. Here and there are quaint and ancient docks, reminders of where the olden galleons were built which bore the most intrepid of all men to conquest and discovery of utmost lands. What wondrous change upon the whole world's surface, what mighty revolutions in civilization, what volumes of history had their humble origin here! Not to Rome nor England should Americans come, reverentially, and with guidebooks, like prayer-books in hand, as to the cradle-spot of our race. We were born on the shores of the lordly Tagus. We are Portuguese in inception and conception. Our babyhood was rocked in the three old tubs which bore Columbus from Ria de Lisboa to far San Salvador.


The harbor scenes of Lisbon are full of color and charm. Towers and castles, churches and monasteries, show from all the surrounding nights. The city itself, almost as white and luminous as Algiers rising from the sea, is fair to look upon. Craft of all nations are here. Up through the Ria de Lisboa the west wind is speeding a fleet of fishing smacks and feluccas. The lateen sails are of every color and tint In the yellow sunlight. Heaps of silvery sardines flash and glitter beneath the sails. Myriads of hovering gulls hear the vast fleet company, for their wise instinct tells them the fishermen never begrudge them a share of their daily harvest from the deep.

Every manner of the smaller craft known to Mediterranean waters are plying back and forth. Boats full of customs officials dart from vessel to vessel, now and then converging towards a narrow archway at the water's edge, where the fruits of the chase are tithed and stored. Gentry and peasantry from the surrounding villas and farms are coming and going in the outlandish craft pointed like gondolas at both ends, propelled by swarthy boatmen with breasts open and hairy to the waist. The blue and white flag of Portugal flutters from countless harbor masts. Fado de Lisboa. Francisco Fialho. Matilde Larguinho.There are music and laughter on boat and on shore. The sky above is the sky of Italy. The waters beneath have that tint of azure which hints of bloom. And when one has landed at Lisbon and is at rest upon some pretty balcony, air and sky, sea and mountain, street and garden, courts and fountains, men and beasts, women and voices, all sight and sound and seeming, prompt to delicious siesta and enchant to tender repose.

Lisbon is neither so fair as Florence, so dazzling as Palermo, so brilliant as Paris, nor by any means so impressive as Rome. But its situation, its surroundings and its striking contrasts lend the city and environs a deep and lasting charm. Palace, church, monastery, convent, public building, home and shop are jumbled together in picturesque confusion. Its parks are many and pleasant, somnolent and restful, rather than brilliant and grand.

Toledo. Tagus River. Alcantara Bridge.
1597. El Greco

View of the Tagus. El Greco.

Down by the water's edge is the fine, broad quadrangle. Praca do Commercio, or Black Horse Square, as the English have called it. This is bordered by the huge Stock Exchange, the India House, the "Alfandega," or Custom-house, the splendid naval arsenal, and the broad quay at the shore of the Tagus. In the center is the hugest memorial in Lisbon, the heroic statue of King Jose I, whose historic reign was contemporary with our Revolution. Forty tons of bronze are in the statue alone, supported by a marble horse and elephant carved of equal size for symmetry. Leading out of this square to the north is a magnificent triumphal arch, and within the quadrangle, from river to arch, are pleasing studies of the great city's commercial life in its relation to the trade and affairs of foreign nations, while picturesque groupings of Lisbon boatmen, mingled with Portuguese officials, officers from foreign war ships, debarking and embarking steamer passengers, with all manner of strange sailors and men-of-wars' men in their various strange costumes, continually change and enliven the scene.

To the east, a little distance along the broad, fine quay, is the Praca dos Romulares, which leads into the Attero, a magnificent seaside traffic thoroughfare of, perhaps, two miles in length. In the former are denser crowds of boatmen and waterside folk, and here is located the Caen do Sodre, where strangers are usually landed. At all hours of day and night it is an interesting locality. The Lisbon boatmen have no other homes but their boats. In them they cook their meals and sleep. Until long alter midnight you can come upon little fleets of from a dozen to a score of these, grouped neighborly together, their swarthy owners eating, drinking and singing in an utter abandon of contentment and good nature. They are a wild and hairy lot, but the Lisbon police tell me they are wholly peaceable, and are governed in all their dealings and relations among themselves by ancient and unbroken customs and laws.

In this respect they are most strikingly like the fishermen of Claddagh, at Galway, Ireland. They also bear strong physical and facial resemblance to the latter, which is not to be wondered at, since the latter, as well as many of the other Galway Irish folk of the present day, are descended from Spanish and Portuguese parent stock.

Three fine, wide streets extend north from Praca do Commercio, or Commercial Square. Their names correspond in English to Gold, Silver and Cloth streets, from concentration of trades and trading in manufactured articles from these commodities. This section of the city was entirely rebuilt since the great earthquake of 1775, and forms, with the great edifices about Commercial Square, what may be properly termed the business district of Lisbon.

Dom Pedro Square.

The northern end of these business streets terminates in another praca, or park or square, the Praca do Rocio. In common parlance it is known as Dom Pedro Square. It is a splendid quadrangle curiously paved with many colored stones. The Theater de Donna Maria, on the site of the Inquisition, forms its northern facade. The tremendous pedestal and plinth of an unfinished monument, to Dom Pedro 1, stand in the center. This square is the favorite evening resort of Lisbon people. Carmo.It is dominated on the one hand by the grand ruins of the Carmo, the monastery of the Carmelite monks, built in the fourteenth century, and on the other by the Castello, or vast castle of St. George, from whose mighty walls the most glorious view of the city and environs can be enjoyed.

Farther toward the mountain heights is the lovely Passeio Publico. This is the great resort of the better classes of the city, summer and winter. It is not large, but it is inclosed and exquisitely laid out in serpentine walks .shaded with numberless trees, and possesses a wealth of statues, fountains, flowers and birds. It is a sweet and songful place the year through. The birds never leave it. At no hour of night or day is it deserted by gay promenaders. And it is here, of all places in Portugal, that her beautiful women can be seen at their best. Their faces are less languorous and sensual than those of Spain. They may not have the sauciness and flash of the French. The melancholy of the Italian women is lacking. But they are still beautiful and wholesome women, with sweetness of mouth, liquidity of eyes, and a kindly and honest light in the whole face, that compensate in genuine admiration and respect any loss on the line of sensually sentimental interest.

Besides these, there is the interesting Praca do Figueira, or Flower Market, one of the most attractive places in Lisbon; the Campo Grande, over a mile in length, just at the edge of the city, where the riding and driving of the aristocracy may be seen; the Campo de Santa Anna, where the noted Lisbon Rag Fair is held weekly; the Praca do Sao Pedro d'Alcantara, a magnificently-shaded promenade, with a shell grotto and fountains, overlooking the city and harbor; and a score of Lesser pracas, squares, gardens and parks, where the wayfarer may tarry, rest and enjoy. Lisbon is peopled by, perhaps, 300,000 souls. None of its parks can compare with Central Park, New York, or Lincoln and Jackson Parks, Chicago. But I have never visited any city in Europe in which I have found so great a number of tiny resort places, each different from any other, and every one so interesting in its separate individuality, beauty and charm.

Architecturally Lisbon, in detail, is vastly more interesting than beautiful. As you approach it from the sea, with its domes and towers, all flanked by castellated heights and purple mountains behind, it is imposing and grand. When you come to wander within it you are never astonished, or even greatly impressed, by its edifices.

Its churches are less interesting than those of any other city of equal size in Europe. The Church of the Heart of Jesus, on the summit of Estrella Hill, in imitation of St. Peter's at Home, without the colonnade, is the most pretentious in Lisbon. The Church of Sao Domingo, the See of the Cardinal Patriarch, near the Rocio, is vast in proportions. The mortuary Church of Sao Vicente is interesting chiefly from its containing, in curious gilt boxes, the remains of the illustrious dead of the royal house of Braganca. Annunciation. Guido of Siena.The tiny Church of San Rogue, with its famous Chapel of St. John, attracts all visitors on account of its marvelous mosaics. These, forming the back and sides of the structure, are copies, in veritable size, of Raphael Urbino's Descent of the Holy Ghost, Guido's Annunciation and Michelangelo's Baptism of Christ. The wonderful perfection of this work is shown in the fact that from any ordinary point of observation, no difference between them and the originals can be detected. More curious still the entire chapel and its interior decorations were first set up in Rome, blessed by Pope Benedict XIV, taken down and transferred to its present site. Its coat has been millions, and there is probably not in the whole world such treasure in art work, silver, gold and precious stones in sacred edifice of equal dimensions.

It is the charm of extreme contrast and endless change which holds and makes one love old Lisbon. There are no two streets, pracas, churches, public buildings, shops or homes alike. Away from the half dozen modern business streets it is almost the same Lisbon that Columbus knew. Here is a shadowy shop of one story where grimy men grope about among gritty piles of charcoal. The next building may be a three or five-story structure, housing the richest of wares, whose upper stories are fancifully decorated in gorgeous paints and gifts.

Next to this, on one side of a dark passage, jolly cobblers beat ceaseless staccatos, a cutler grinds and hammers on the other, and away in there a stream of light shows exquisite stairs leading to some inclosed court where a home of opulence is embedded in vines and roses. Everywhere are ponderous base and arch, huge column and tremendous entablature, often supporting buildings whose insignificance is ludicrously startling.

In many of the older public edifices the architecture is Moorish, or semi-Moorish, and the facades are often flanked by square towers and diminutive Saracenic domes. The general plan of shop and abode in the ancient portions, of the city is, the shop below and the home above, or the lower story, is used as a sort of entrada to walled-in home structures in the rear, or the habitation above. In the latter case these entradas are temporary shops for itinerant cobblers, cutlers, saddlers and the like, or lounging-places-for beggars, donkeys and goats. But, however, unsavory may seem the ground floor of, or the street entrance to, any structure, the upper stories of the same, or the pretty home nests behind, afford abundant compensation in picturesque groupings and scenes.

Balconies are as universal as in Havana, Valladolid, Madrid or Seville. Some project from supports of carved stone. Others rest with airy insecurity upon fancifully wrought timbers, and still others may be seen in the daintiest patterns into which brass and iron may be wrought. Many are latticed, and in this latticework are odd little and gates. Behind these the fair Portuguese women eat their dainty salads, of which they are inordinately fond, and sip their wines and ices. And from a partially opened lattice, as you pass, yon will catch glances from lovely eyes, and as often smiles and coquettish looks from roguish faces. The Lisbon maidens must be chary of their looks upon friends or strangers in the street, but social custom gives them the somewhat compensative and altogether blessed right to flirt desperately with you from the lofty and safe outposts of their balconied alcobas.

As one passes toward the outskirts of Lisbon, all of that suggestive of the home is pleasanter still. There is a hint of snugness in the high, surrounding, vine covered walls of yards and courts. Here the open court of the Spaniard and the Moor becomes more common and more beautiful. It shelters the home-gatherings and belongings of the average family. All its members are more or less within it, or within reach of voice from it. Many lovely flowers and clambering vines light up the place in winter as well as in summer days. The murmurous fall of water is always heard, for no patio is without its fountain. And poor, indeed, is the home in old Lisbon that has not its walled garden with a wealth of flowers, plants, umbrageous trees and quaint, tiled, ground-sunken troughs, through which the water is ceaselessly whimpering and whispering—for all the gardens are thus irrigated—while every court and garden is melodious with the songs of scores of those matchless brown canaries which are weekly brought, hundreds upon hundreds, from the sunlit isles of the Azores.

~ Edgar L. Wakeman.

August 28, 1893, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, U.S.A.

New Telegraph Cable Opened.

Lisbon, August 27.— King Carlos to-day opened for business the new cable between Portugal and the Azores.

1899. World's Fleet. Boston Daily Globe

Lloyds Register of Shipping gives the entire fleet of the world as 28,180 steamers and sailing vessels, with a total tonnage of 27,673,628, of which 39 perent are British.

Great Britain10,990 vessels, total tonnage of 10,792,714
United States 3,010 vessels, total tonnage of 2,405,887
Norway 2,528 vessels, tonnage of 1,604,230
Germany 1,676 vessels, with a tonnage of 2,453,334, in which are included her particularly large ships.
Sweden 1,408 vessels with a tonnage of 643, 527
Italy1,150 vessels
France 1,182 vessels

For Historical Comparison
Top 10 Maritime Nations Ranked by Value (2017)

  Country # of Vessels







1 Greece 4,453 206.47 $88.0
2 Japan 4,317 150.26 $79.8
3 China 4,938 159.71 $71.7
4 USA 2,399 55.92 $46.5
5 Singapore 2,662 64.03 $41.7
6 Norway 1,668 39.68 $41.1
7 Germany 2,923 81.17 $30.3
8 UK 883 28.78 $24.3
9 Denmark 1,040 36.17 $23.4
10 South Korea 1,484 49.88 $20.1
Total 26,767 87.21 $466.9

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping.Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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