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Who located the site for the Presidio of San Francisco?

March 28th

Juba_deanza_02March 28, 1776 — Today, Juan Bautista de Anza Bezerra Nieto (July 6/7, 1736 – December 19, 1788) located the sites for the Presidio of San Francisco and Mission San Francisco de Asis in present-day San Francisco, California.

The Spanish explorer of Basque descent, and Governor of New Mexico for the Spanish Empire,  was born into a military family living on the northern frontier of New Spain.

1752-1770: De Anza enlisted in the army at the Presidio of Fronteras and advanced rapidly to the position of captain by 1760, and spent much of his days battling hostile Native Americans, such as the Apache. During that time, he explored much of what is now Arizona.

When the Spanish began colonizing Alta California with the Portolá expedition of 1769-70, colonies were established at San Diego and Monterey, with a presidio and Franciscan mission at each location. A more direct land route and further colonization were desired, especially at present-day San Francisco, which Portolá saw but was not able to colonize.

January 8, 1774: De Anza proposed an expedition to Alta California to the Viceroy of New Spain, which was approved by the King of Spain. Today, with 3 padres, 20 soldiers, 11 servants, 35 mules, 65 cattle, and 140 horses, he set forth from Tubac Presidio, south of present-day Tucson, Arizona.

The Spanish were desirous of reinforcing their presence in Alta California as a buffer against Russian colonization of the Americas advancing from the north, and possibly establish a harbor that would give shelter to Spanish ships. The expedition continued on to Monterey with the colonists. Having fulfilled his mission from the Viceroy, he continued on with Father Pedro Font and a party of 12 others exploring north and found an inland route to the San Francisco Baydescribed by Portolà.

Pressing on, de Anza located the sites for the Presidio of San Francisco and Mission San Francisco de Asisin present-day San Francisco, California on March 28, 1776. He did not establish the settlement; it was established later by José Joaquín Moraga. While returning to Monterey, he located the original sites for Mission Santa Clara de Asis and the town of San José de Guadalupe (modern day San Jose, California), but again did not establish either settlement.

Words of Wisdom

We arrived at the arroyo of San Joseph Cupertino (now Stevens Creek), which is useful only for travelers. Here we halted for the night, having come eight leagues in seven and a half hours. From this place we have seen at our right the estuary which runs from the port of San Francisco.

— From the diary on March 25, 1776 of Juan Bautista de Anza (July 6, 1736 – December 19, 1788) found the site for the Presidio of San Francisco on March 28, 1776.

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