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New York Daily Times, Thursday, October 21, 1852

Fire Insurance at San Francisco.

In conversation with Lieut.-Governor Purdy, of California, who is now here as a Commissioner for the Water Loan of San Francisco, a day or two since, we were surprised to hear that such a protection as Fire insurance on Goods and Buildings, in that large city, is almost wholly unknown. The occasional risks taken by the Atlantic Companies, previous to the great fire of '51, have since been given up; proving, as most of them did, totally disastrous from the absence of proper water facilities for suppressing fire. Thus the vast amount of merchandise of every description, consigned from the Atlantic Cities for sale at San Francisco, and the equally large amount entrusted, on.orgmercial credits, to the San Francisco merchants, are at the mercy of the flames as soon as landed from the shipping.

This is certainly a matter of moment to the parties concerned on this side, as well as to those who are on the spot and continually feel, and but too frequently realize, the danger. We were not ignorant of the high premiums and other difficulties experienced two years ago on this subject, nor of the losses which followed to the underwriters, as well as to individuals, by the great fire of May, 1851; but that these had done away with nearly or quite all Insurances against fire, we were not apprised.

The abundant supply of water to this important depot of our Pacific trade is not impracticable. An efficient fire department will soon follow. The continued absence of two such vital auxiliaries to the.orgfort and protection of an active, wealthy, and rapidly increasing city, already numbering a population of 40,000, would be a reproach to all concerned there, while the continued denial of fire Insurance would be almost as inexcusable to the.orgpanies engaged and capital employed in underwriting here. The three wants, it is much to be desired, should be furnished at the earliest day that can be made practicable. Governor Purdy regards the water capital, which in part must be supplied from the Atlantic, (if delays would be avoided) as the first essential. Money is worth thirty-six per cent. in San Francisco; here, six per cent. without the thirty. Water is of easy access at Mountain lake, five miles from the city. Eleven miles of pipe, in all, will be required. The climate is such that the pipe can be laid near the surface, and the elevation of the lake and intervening ground so favorable, as to make the cost moderate, and especially so in.orgparison with the water rents which will surely follow.

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; Maritime Library, San Francisco, California, various Maritime Museums around the world.

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