Landing the Fish, North Beach, San Francisco, California - 1905

Rose Doris Scherini writes in The Italian American Community of San Francisco: A Descriptive Study (American ethnic groups)

Fishermen's Wharf was once known as Italy Harbor. The first Italians were a group of Genoese fishermen who, after short stays in the gold country, went into the fishing business in San Francisco. The Italian Fishermen's Association, a trade union formed in 1882, rented a wharf and maintained a "boilerhouse" where the Italians docked and cleaned their lines. By 1910 Sicilian fishermen dominated the fishing industry; the 1500 Italian fishermen supplied 90% of the fish sold in San Francisco. (Scherini)

The restaurants you see at Fishermen's Wharf today began when some of the pioneer families decided they would rather sell seafood than catch it. These families – Cresci, Sabella, Alioto, Tarantino, Paladino, Guardino, and others – passed their restaurants down through the generations, and you can find the same names today on many of the Wharf’s restaurants and seafood stands. (Historic Walking Tour)

One of the most famous descendants of these Italian fishermen was New York Yankee baseball player Joe Di Maggio. “I was born in Martinez, but my earliest recollection was of the smell of fish at Fisherman’s Wharf, where I was brought up. Our main support was a fishing boat, with which my father went crabbing. If you didn’t help in the fishing, you had to help in cleaning the boat. Baseball didn’t have much appeal to me as a kid, but it was far better than helping Pop when he was fishing or helping clean the boat.” (From Lucky to be a Yankee, 1957)

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