Sausalito, California: Wikis


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City of Sausalito
—  City  —
Location in Marin County and the state of California
Coordinates: 37°51′33″N 122°29′07″W / 37.85917°N 122.48528°W / 37.85917; -122.48528Coordinates: 37°51′33″N 122°29′07″W / 37.85917°N 122.48528°W / 37.85917; -122.48528
Country United States
State California
County Marin
 - County Board District 3
Charles McGlashan
 - Senate Mark Leno (D)
 - Assembly Jared Huffman (D)
 - U. S. Congress Lynn Woolsey (D)
 - Total 2.2 sq mi (5.8 km2)
 - Land 1.9 sq mi (4.9 km2)
 - Water 0.3 sq mi (0.9 km2)
Elevation [1] 13 ft (4 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 7,330
 Density 3,331.8/sq mi (1,263.8/km2)
Time zone PST (UTC-8)
 - Summer (DST) PDT (UTC-7)
ZIP codes 94965-94966
Area code(s) 415
FIPS code 06-70364
GNIS feature ID 0277597

Sausalito (from Spanish: sauzalito "small willow grove", from sauce "willow" + collective derivative -al meaning "place of abundance" + diminutive suffix -ito; with orthographic corruption from z to s due to seseo; early variants of the name were Saucelito, San Salita, San Saulito, San Salito, Sancolito, Sancilito, Sousolito, Sousalita, Sousilito, Sousalita, Sousilito, Sausilito, and Sauz Saulita[2]) is a San Francisco Bay Area city, located in Marin County, California, United States. Sausalito is located 8 miles (13 km) south-southeast of San Rafael,[2] at an elevation of 13 feet (4 m).[1] The population was 7,330 as of the year 2000 census. The community is situated near the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge, and prior to the building of that bridge served as a terminus for rail, car and ferry traffic. Developed rapidly as a shipbuilding center in World War II, the city's industrial character gave way in postwar years to a reputation as an artistic enclave, as a picturesque residential community (incorporating large numbers of houseboats), and as a tourist destination. It is adjacent to, and largely bounded by, the protected spaces of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.



Sausalito combines hillside with shoreline, as seen in this view from Bridgeway, the city's central street.

Located at 37°51′33″N 122°29′07″W / 37.85917°N 122.48528°W / 37.85917; -122.48528,[1] Sausalito encompasses both steep, wooded hillside and shoreline tidal flats. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.2 square miles (5.8 km²). Notably, only 1.9 square miles (4.9 km²) of it is land. A full 15.18% of the city (0.3 square miles, or 0.9 km²) is under water, and has been so since 1868. Prominent geographic features associated with Sausalito include Richardson Bay and Pine Point.

When Sausalito was formally platted, it was anticipated that future development might extend the shoreline with landfill, as had been the practice in neighboring San Francisco. As a result entire streets, demarcated and given names like Pescadero, Eureka and Teutonia, remain beneath the surface of Richardson Bay.[3] The legal, if not actual, presence of these streets has proved a contentious factor in public policy, due to the fact that some houseboats float directly above them. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "State agencies say privately owned houseboats can't be located above the underwater streets because the streets are public trust lands intended for public benefit." The California State Lands Commission is reportedly pursuing a compromise which would move not the houseboats, but the theoretical streets instead.[4]



Sausalito has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csb) with far lower temperatures than expected because of its extreme proximity to San Francisco Bay and the resultant onshore breezes.

Climate data for Sausalito
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 56
Average low °F (°C) 45
Precipitation inches (mm) 4.14
Source: Weather Channel [5] 2009-03-30


Indigenous culture

Sausalito was once the site of a Coast Miwok settlement known as Liwanelowa. The branch of the Coast Miwok living in this area were known as the Huimen (or as Nación de Uimen to the Spanish).[6][7] Early explorers of the area described them as friendly and hospitable. According to Juan de Ayala, "To all these advantages must be added the best of all, which is that the heathen Indians of the port are so faithful in their friendship and so docile in their disposition that I was greatly pleased to receive them on board." Such placidity was likely a contributing factor to their complete displacement, which took place within the span of a few generations. As historian Jack Tracy has observed, "Their dwellings on the site of Sausalito were explored and mapped in 1907, nearly a century and a half later, by an archaeological survey. By that time, nothing was left of the culture of those who had first enjoyed the natural treasures of the bay. The life of the Coastal Miwoks had been reduced to archaeological remnants, as though thousands of years had passed since their existence."

European discovery and settlement

1781 Cañizares Map of San Francisco Bay

The first European known to visit the present-day location of Sausalito was Don José de Cañizares, on August 5, 1775. Cañizares was head of an advance party dispatched by longboat from the ship San Carlos, searching for a suitable anchorage for the larger vessel. The crew of the San Carlos came ashore soon after, reporting friendly natives and teeming populations of deer, elk, bear, sea lions, seals and otters. More significantly for maritime purposes, they reported an abundance of large, mature timber in the hills, a valuable commodity for shipwrights in need of raw materials for masts, braces and planking.

Despite these and later positive reports, the Spanish colonial government of Upper California did little to establish a presence in the area. When a military garrison (now the Presidio of San Francisco) and a Franciscan mission (Mission Dolores) were founded the following year, they were situated on the opposite, southern shore of the bay, where no portage was necessary for overland traffic to and from Monterey, the regional capitol. As a result, the far shore of the Golden Gate strait would remain largely wilderness for another half-century.

William Richardson (1795–1856), an English-born Mexican citizen, first claimed and developed the site of Sausalito as a private rancho.

The development of the area began at the instigation of William A. Richardson, who arrived in Upper California in 1822, shortly after Mexico had won its independence from Spain. An English mariner who had picked up a fluency in Spanish during his travels, he quickly became an influential presence in the now-Mexican territory. By 1825, Richardson had assumed Mexican citizenship, converted to Catholicism and married the daughter of Don Ignacio Martínez, commandant of the Presidio and holder of a large land grant. His ambitions now expanding to land holdings of his own, Richardson submitted a petition to Governor Echienda for a rancho in the headlands across the water from the Presidio, to be called "Rancho Saucelito".[8] Sausalito is believed to refer to a small cluster of willows, a moist-soil tree, indicating the presence of a freshwater spring.[9]

Even before filing his claim, Richardson had used the spring as a watering station on the shores of what is now called Richardson Bay (an arm of the larger San Francisco Bay), selling fresh water to visiting vessels. However, his ownership of the land was legally tenuous: other claims had been submitted for the same region, and at any rate Mexican law reserved headlands for military uses, not private ownership. Richardson temporarily abandoned his claim and settled instead outside the Presidio, building the first permanent civilian home and laying out the street plan for the pueblo of Yerba Buena (present-day San Francisco). After years of lobbying and legal wrangling, Richardson was given clear title to all 19,751 acres (79.93 km2) of Rancho del Sausalito on February 11, 1838.

Fishing village and sybaritic enclave

In the post-Gold Rush era, Sausalito's unusual location became a key factor in its formation as a community. It was San Francisco's nearest neighbor, less than two miles (3 km) away at the nearest point and easily seen from city streets, yet transportation factors rendered it effectively isolated. A boat could sail there in under half an hour, but wagons and carriages required an arduous skirting of the entire bay, a journey that could well exceed a hundred miles. As a result, the region was largely dominated by two disparate classes of people, both with ready access to boats: commercial fishermen and wealthy yachting enthusiasts.

Transit hub

The first post office opened in 1870 as "Saucelito" and changed its name to the present spelling in 1887.[2]

The Eureka, then the largest double-ended ferryboat in the world, carried passenger and automobile traffic on the Sausalito-San Francisco run from 1922 to 1941.

In the 1870s, the North Pacific Coast Railroad (NPC) extended its tracks southward to a new terminus in Sausalito, where a rail yard and ferry to San Francisco were established. The NPC was acquired by the North Shore Railroad in 1902, which in turn was absorbed in 1907 by the Southern Pacific affiliate, the Northwestern Pacific.

By 1926, a major auto ferry across the Golden Gate was established, running to the Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco [10]. This ferry was an integral part of old U.S. Highway 101, and a large influx of automobile traffic, often parked or idling in long queues, became a dominant characteristic of the town.

The opening of the Golden Gate Bridge in May 1937 made large-scale ferry operations redundant.

Bootlegging and Rum Runners

Sausalito was a center for bootlegging during the era of Prohibition in the United States. Because of its location facing the Golden Gate and isolated from San Francisco by the same waterway, it was also a favorite landing spot for rum runners.[11] The 1942 film China Girl has some footage of Sally Stanford's Valhalla restaurant on the waterfront. The scene shows the docks and illustrates rum running.

Industrialization during World War II

During World War II, a major shipyard of the Bechtel Corporation called Marinship was sited along the shoreline of Sausalito. The thousands of laborers who worked here were largely housed in a nearby community constructed for them called Marin City. The soil which supports this area is dredgings from Richardson Bay that were placed during World War II as part of the Marin shipyards for the United States Navy.[12] A total of 202 acres (0.8 km2) were condemned by the government. A portion of this total area was formed in the shape of a peninsula and this peninsula became known as Schoonmaker Point. In honor of the city's contribution to the war effort, a Tacoma-class frigate was christened the USS Sausalito (PF-4) in 1943. The ship Sausalito, however, was not built in Sausalito but at one of the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond, California, also on the San Francisco Bay.

Postwar Sausalito

Following World War II a lively waterfront community grew out of the abandoned ship yards. By the late '60s at least three house boat communities occupied the waterfront along and adjacent to Sausalito's shore. But beginning in the '70s, an intense struggle erupted between house boat residents and developers. It was dubbed the "House Boat Wars". [13] Forced removals by county authorities and sabotage by some on the waterfront characterized this struggle. This long fight pitted the waterfront against the "Hill People" or the rich on the hill looking down on the water front. Today two house boat communities still exist: Gallilee Harbor in Sausalito, Waldo Point and the Gates Cooperative just outside the city limit.

In 1965, the City of Sausalito sued the County of Marin and a private developer for illegally zoning 2,000 acres (8 km2) of land to build a city named Marincello right next to Sausalito. The city won the lawsuit in 1970, and the land was transferred as open space to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.


Sausalito's harbor sidewalk

As of the census[14] of 2000, there were 7,330 people, 4,254 households, and 1,663 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,852.9 people per square mile (1,489.5/km²). There were 4,511 housing units at an average density of 2,371.1/sq mi (916.7/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 91.65% White, 0.65% African American, 0.29% Native American, 4.17% Asian, 0.25% Pacific Islander, 0.71% from other races, and 2.28% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.33% of the population.

There were 4,254 households out of which 8.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 33.9% were married couples living together, 3.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 60.9% were non-families. 45.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.72 and the average family size was 2.34.

In the city the population was spread out with 7.4% under the age of 18, 2.4% from 18 to 24, 39.5% from 25 to 44, 38.5% from 45 to 64, and 12.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45 years. For every 100 females there were 93.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $87,469, and the median income for a family was $123,467. Males had a median income of $90,680 versus $56,576 for females. The per capita income for the city was $81,040. About 2.0% of families and 5.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.1% of those under age 18 and 5.5% of those age 65 or over.

Sister cities

Service organizations and clubs

Sausalito Yacht Club founded in 1942

Service organizations in Sausalito include the Lions Club, Rotary Club, Sausalito Woman's Club, Sausalito Historical Society, Sausalito Art Festival Foundation and the Sausalito-on-the-Waterfront Foundation. Clubs include the Sausalito Yacht Club, Presidio Yacht Club and the Sausalito Cruising Club.

The Sausalito-on-the-Waterfront Foundation, incorporated in May 2009, is a non-profit California public benefit corporation. Its mission is to educate the public on the history of the Sausalito waterfront and environmental issues related to San Francisco Bay, perpetuate life on San Francisco Bay and waterfront, sponsor boating activities and community events and provide educational scholarships and support to other non-profit organizations.[15] Some activities of the foundation include the Sausalito Lighted Boat Parade and Fireworks, Opening Day on the Bay celebration, Youth Sailing Program, Burning Woman Artists Waterfront Exhibit, Kids Waterfront Day-in-the-Park and Jazz & Blues On-the-Waterfront.


Due to its location at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito receives a steady stream of visitors via the bridge (auto and bicycle traffic) and a ferry service from San Francisco. It retains one of the few ungated marinas in the Bay Area that attracts visitors.


Sausalito is served by the Sausalito Marin City School District for primary school and the Tamalpais Union High School District for secondary school. Grades K-6 attend Bayside Elementary School in Sausalito or K-8 attend to Willow Creek Academy while high schoolers attend Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley.


The Sausalito houseboat community consists of more than 400 houseboats of various shapes, sizes, and values, along the north end of town, approximately two miles from downtown.[16]

Sausalito houseboats

Notable residents

The following is a list of Wikipedia-notable residents of Sausalito, past and present.


  • Gina Berriault, award-winning novelist and short story writer.
  • Laurel Burch, artist and designer.
  • Gordon Onslow Ford, English surrealist painter.
  • Phil Frank, cartoonist and illustrator.
  • Paul Hawken, environmentalist and co-founder of Smith and Hawken.
  • Actor Sterling Hayden, a resident from the early 1960s until his death in 1986. Hayden rented one of the pilot houses of the retired ferryboat Berkeley, then in use mainly as a gift shop on Sausalito's waterfront, as an office while he wrote his autobiographic book Wanderer (published in 1963).
  • William Randolph Hearst, publisher. His hillside mansion "Sea Point", never completed, was a precursor to the later, more elaborate San Simeon.
  • Edith Heath, ceramic artist, industrial designer.
  • Mary Tuthill Lindheim, sculptor, potter, and installation designer, juror and planner of the Sausalito Art Fair.
  • Baby Face Nelson, American gangster of the 1920s.[17]
  • Otis Redding, musician, wrote "Dock of the Bay" while staying on a houseboat at Waldo Point in Sausalito in 1967.[18]
  • Former Bay Area radio and television host Don Sherwood spent his last years on a houseboat in Sausalito, where he died in 1983.
  • Shel Silverstein, American poet, songwriter, musician, composer, cartoonist, screenwriter and author of children's books.
  • Myron Spaulding, concert violinist, renowned sailor, yacht designer and ship builder. His boatworks continues to operate as a living museum, boatworks and wooden boatbuilding school under the name the Spaulding Wooden Boat Center.
  • Sally Stanford, One-time Sausalito City Council member and Mayor, founder of the restaurant Valhalla. Ran a well-known brothel at 1144 Pine Street in San Francisco.[19]
  • Ted Tetzlaff, film director, choreographer.
  • Sausalito was also home to the 20th century philosopher Alan Watts, who lived on a houseboat there.[20] The Sausalito Library owns a permanent collection of all available audio cassettes of Alan Watts’ spoken words.[21]
  • Jean Varda, Greek artist and friend of Henry Miller. He was part owner and lived aboard the ferryboat Vallejo.
  • Julie Christie, actress


Sausalito California .jpg


  • Sausalito was the home of Genetic Savings & Clone, a company involved in cloning pets (now closed).
  • Heath Ceramics, founded by mid-century modern ceramicist Edith Heath, has been operating in Sausalito since 1948.
  • Antenna Audio has a branch in Sausalito.
  • Sausalito is the headquarters of Whiskey Media and its brands Giant Bomb, Comic Vine, Anime Vice and Tested.
  • In addition to Marinship, which built ships during World War II, Sausalito has a long history of boatbuilding. These boatyards specialized in a variety of vessels, including fishing and other work boats, government-contract vessels and recreational yachts. Many boatyards came and went in Sausalito in the late 1800s and early 1900s, including G. Smith, Brixen and Manfrey, the California Launch Building Company, the Reliance Boat Company, Nunes Brothers (Manuel and Antonio), Atlantic Boatbuilding Plant, Crichton and Arques, Sausalito Shipbuilding, Madden and Lewis, Menotti Pasquinucci and Bob's Boatyard. After World War II, the best known yards are, or were, Spaulding Boatworks, Bob's Boatyard, Easom Boatworks, Sausalito Marine, Bayside Boatworks, Richardson Bay Boat, the Boatbuilders Co-op and Anderson's Boat Yard.[23]
  • The Spaulding Boatworks was founded in 1951 by Myron Spaulding and has been in continuous operation since then. It is one of the last remaining wooden boat yards on the West Coast. Today, the Spaulding Wooden Boat Center is a working and living museum, with a mission to restore and return to active use significant, historic wooden sailing vessels; preserve and enhance its working boatyard; create a place where people can gather to use, enjoy, and learn about wooden boats; and educate others about wooden boat building skills, traditions and values.
  • The American Distilling Company manufactured and distributed various brands of whiskey, including "Bourbon Supreme." The distillery was destroyed by fire in the early '60s; the site is now the location of "Whiskey Springs" condominiums.
  • The Mason Distillery once made medicinal alcohol here.
  • The Southern Pacific ferryboat Berkeley was docked in Sausalito for several years during the 1960s after being taken out of service. It was subsequently towed to San Diego where it was restored and is a tourist attraction.
  • The bakery concern Pepperidge Farm, which markets a line of chocolate chunk cookies named after various notable locales (Chesapeake, Nantucket, Tahoe), has given the name Sausalito to their milk chocolate/macadamia-nut combo. It is not manufactured in the city.

Sausalito in fiction

Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth in a Sausalito-based scene in The Lady from Shanghai.
  • A section of the 1892 novel The Wrecker, by Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osborn is set in Sausalito.
  • The opening of The Sea-Wolf by Jack London is set on a ferryboat travelling from Sausalito to San Francisco. It is believed that London stayed for a time in Sausalito while he was writing the novel.
  • Scenes in the 1947 film The Lady from Shanghai, directed by Orson Welles, take place on the Sausalito waterfront.
  • The 1949 film Impact, directed by Arthur Lubin, features downtown Sausalito in its opening scenes.
  • In Jack Kerouac's On the Road, Sausalito is mentioned as "a little fishing village" and a joke is made about it being "filled with Italians."
  • Many scenes in the 1965 film Dear Brigitte with James Stewart, Glynis Johns, Ed Wynn, Bill Mumy, and Fabian were filmed on the Sausalito shores of Richardson Bay.
  • The 1968 film Petulia has Richard Chamberlain fishing Julie Christie out of the water at the foot of Johnson Street. Potted trees and other shrubbery, situated as set decorations on the adjacent docks, were left in place after filming had ended.
  • M*A*S*H's fictional character B. J. Hunnicutt was portrayed as having completed his medical residency in Sausalito (an impossibility, as the town has never had a hospital). His peacetime address is in Mill Valley, the town adjacent to Sausalito. He also mentions several times going to "a nice restaurant in Sausalito with his wife, Peg".
  • A scene from the 1972 movie, Play It Again, Sam, was shot using interiors of the Trident (later Horizons) restaurant and exteriors of the Spinnaker restaurant in Sausalito. In the film, actors Woody Allen and Tony Roberts are seen entering the Spinnaker restaurant with the ferryboat, Berkeley, then tied up in Sausalito as the retail emporium, Trade Fair, in the background. The scene then cuts to the interior of the Trident.
  • In the 1978 novel The House of God, the intern Hooper hails from Sausalito.
Sausalito's fictional "Cetacean Institute" from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
  • In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the fictional Cetacean Institute is located in Sausalito. Although several scenes took place there, no filming was done in Sausalito itself. The actual film location for the fictional institute was the Monterey Bay Aquarium located in Monterey, California.
  • Albert Brooks' Mother (1996), employs the town as the setting for its story, which features several shots of Sausalito throughout.
  • In David Fincher's 1997 film The Game, set in San Francisco, Nicholas Van Orton's (Michael Douglas) ex-wife lives in Sausalito.
  • Sausalito is the English title of a 2000 Hong Kong film directed by Lau Wai Keung, starring Maggie Cheung.
  • In the television series Star Trek: Enterprise, a Vulcan "compound" is based in Sausalito, although it is not depicted; Fort Baker, which borders Sausalito is shown, and has become the site of Starfleet Headquarters.
  • In Sofia Coppola's 2003 film Lost in Translation, a Jazz Band called Sausalito performs at the Park Hyatt Bar.
  • Judd Apatow's 2009 dramedy Funny People uses Sausalito as the backdrop for the film's third act where Leslie Mann and Eric Bana's characters live with their family.

Sausalito in music

Songs referring to Sausalito

Albums recorded in Sausalito


  1. ^ a b c U.S. Geological Survey Geographical Names Information System: Sausalito, California
  2. ^ a b c Durham, David L. (1998). California's Geographic Names: A Gazetteer of Historic and Modern Names of the State. Quill Driver Books. p. 699. ISBN 9781884995149. 
  3. ^ "Now, houseboats not really sunk: Assembly bill seeks to legalize mooring on public property", San Francisco Chronicle, June 15, 2006
  4. ^ op. cit., San Francisco Chronicle, June 15, 2006
  5. ^ Average weather for Sausalito Weather Channel Retrieved 2008-03-30
  6. ^ Peterson, Bonnie J. (1976). Dawn of the World: Coast Miwok Myths. ISBN 0-912908-04-1
  7. ^ National Park Service. (2005). Cultural Landscape Report for Fort Baker, Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
  8. ^ Robert Ryal Miller, Captain Richardson, Mariner, Ranchero, and Founder of San Francisco Berkeley: La Loma Press, 1995 [Call number at SSU: Regional Room F869 .S353 R546] 1995
  9. ^ Tracy, Jack. Sausalito Moments in Time: A Pictorial History of Sausalito 1850-1950. Sausalito:Windgate Press 1983. ISBN 0-915269-00-7
  10. ^
  11. ^ SF Chronicle, December 5, 2008, pp.A1,A20
  12. ^ Soils testing results for the Liberty Shipbuilding site, Sausalito California, EMI report 7291W2, City of Sausalito Community Development Department, Nov 1989
  13. ^ A Short History of Liveaboards on the Bay, Larry Clinton, Bay Crossings, August 2001.
  14. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  15. ^ Sausalito-on-the-Waterfront Foundation. "Purposes". Articles of Incorporation, Section 2 May 29, 2009
  16. ^ "Floating Through Life, Sausalito houseboat community will show off its one-of-a-kind dwellings on Sunday" San Francisco Chronicle, October 4, 2003
  17. ^ SF Chronicle, Dec.5, 2008, p.A20
  18. ^ San Francisco Chronicle, February 4, 2009, p.E3
  19. ^ Profile of life history of Sally Stanford
  20. ^ Charters, Ann (ed.). The Portable Beat Reader. Penguin Books. New York. 1992. ISBN 0-670-83885-3
  21. ^ City of Sausalito : Alan Watts Audio Cassette Collection
  22. ^ Vijay Mallya is not your typical brewer / Owner of Mendocino Brewing Co. is a member of India's Parliament - and more
  23. ^ Sausalito Historical Society. Sausalito (Images of America). San Francisco: Arcadia Publishing, 2005. ISBN 0-7385-3036-0

Further reading

  • Tracy, Jack. Sausalito Moments in Time: A Pictorial History of Sausalito 1850-1950. Sausalito:Windgate Press 1983. ISBN 0-915269-00-7
  • Sausalito Historical Society. Sausalito (Images of America). San Francisco: Arcadia Publishing, 2005. ISBN 0-7385-3036-0

External links


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