While we prepare to celebrate America's birthday tomorrow with explosives, grilled nitrates and light beer, we should take a moment to recognize that other big event that happened in the summer of 1776. We're talking, of course, about the time San Francisco officially became a place. Come with us now, back to 1775 when America proper was finally getting their act together to declare war on the British and the Spanish were way out West preparing to gentrify the everliving crap out of Alta California.

In 1775 Juan Bautista de Anza, whose name you might recognize from countless city landmarks, set out from what is now Tucson, Arizona with his own cactus league of 240 soon-to-be-San Franciscans. After spending January 1776 in L.A. (Mission San Gabriel at the time) and a brief stop to help the Governor put down an Indian revolt in San Diego, Anza headed North to Monterey. Because families have never really been welcome in the city, Anza left the women and children in Monterey and led a small party of his best soldiers north up the peninsula.

Although the bay and peninsula had been explored earlier, Governor Rivera thought San Francisco was too foggy to sustain a colony. To which we say: Go back to Mission San Gabriel and stop stealing our water, jerk. Anyhow, when he reached what is now Fort Point, Anza and his Lieutenant José Moraga surfed the Golden Gate planted a cross to mark the future site of their military camp on March 28th, 1776.

By April 1776, Anza and team had scouted out a site three miles southeast of Fort Point where the climate was much warmer, the soil was suitable for sustaining a locally sourced produce industry and there was plentiful fresh water (for making cheap beer, presumably). Anza and team named their new "Mission" district Laguna de los Dolores, because it made them sad to think about how it would one day be overrun with all those Easterners who were currently pushing the British out of Boston. Either that or it was Good Friday, also known as the Friday of Sorrows to the Spanish.

With the Mission and the Presidio sketched out, Anza headed back to Monterey. Governor Rivera still wasn't convinced San Francisco could ever become the hub of technology and cuisine that it is today and nixed the idea again. Everyone else, however, was pretty sure Rivera had gone insane at this point. So Anza did what any enterprising San Franciscan would do and gave Lieutenant Moraga enough seed capital (like actual seeds, probably) and a chief advisor (Father Palou) to head North and make San Francisco a thing. On June 29th, 1776, just five days before the Second Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, the new settlers celebrated their first mass at la Laguna de los Dolores.

Months later, while celebrating the dedication of the Mission in the name of Saint Francis in October 1776, Father Palou recorded the first instance of San Francisco's perpetually grumpy natives. As he noted in his diary, "The day was a joyful one for all. Only the savages did not enjoy themselves on this happy day."