If you’re a tourist visiting California, you might be interested in learning about the history of San Rafael. This city has a rich history that goes back centuries. Here is a brief overview of some of the most important historical events in San Rafael’s past.

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San Rafael’s Historical Sequence

San Rafael Before Foundation

The City of San Rafael was once home to several Coast Miwok villages, including San Rafael, Terra Linda, and Marinwood. It was once home to several Coast Miwok tribes who were indigenous people and the second-largest group of Miwok people. Coast Miwok lived in the general area of modern Marin County and southern Sonoma County in Northern California, from the Golden Gate north to Duncans Point and eastward to Sonoma Creek. The villages that have been identified are Awani-wi near downtown San Rafael, Ewu near Terra Linda, and Shotomko-cha in Marinwood. 

Coast Miwok

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The Four Priests and Mission San Rafael Archangel

On December 14, 1817, four priests: Father Narciso Duran from San Jose, Father Abella from San Francisco, Father Gil y Taboada, and Father Junipero Serra, the President of the Missions, founded Mission San Rafael Archangel in what is now downtown San Rafael as the 20th Spanish mission in the colonial province of Alta California.

The mission and city are named after the Angel of Healing, Archangel Raphael. Mission San Rafael, named after Saint Raphael the Arcángel, the angel of bodily healing, began as an Asistencia, or helper, to Mission Dolores and also the ill northern California Indians devastated by San Francisco’s inclement weather. Coast Miwoks from Mission San Jose was also relocated to Mission San Rafael to help establish the new community. The facility was given to Father Luis Gil, who also spoke several Native American languages. 

San Rafael was granted full mission status in 1822, owing largely to its warmer and milder weather. The Mission gained 300 converts in the first year and 1,140 converts by 1828. In 1834, the Mexican government took control of the California missions, and Mission San Rafael was abandoned in 1844, eventually deteriorating into ruin. The current mission, built-in 1949 in the style of the original, is at right angles to the original building’s alignment.

Saint Raphael Parish

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San Rafael After The Mexican War

Following the Mexican-American War in 1853, the United States annexed the territory that included Alta California. Alta California still had about 1,000 Mexican families living there at the time.

Technology was changing the world, and it was also changing northern California. In 1879, the San Francisco and North Pacific Railroad arrived in San Rafael. Later that year, in 1888, the city was connected to the national rail network. San Rafael remained an important railroad town. Throughout World War II, the United States Navy maintained a degaussing range in San Pablo Bay near San Rafael. The railroad brought more settlers and businesses, as well as opportunities. San Rafael experienced new growth during these years.

North Pacific Railroad

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San Rafael Today

San Rafael is a great place to live! It’s a beautiful town nestled in the warm, comforting arms of the San Francisco Bay. With nearby access to the water, hills, and city, it’s a wonderful place for exploring on foot or by bike. And with a burgeoning foodie culture, it’s easy to find something good to eat at any hour of the day. The safety is also quite good compared to other parts of California. At night you’ll find people out and about at restaurants, bars, as well as cafes.

San Rafael has plenty of history too! You can take a tour of its many historical sites which we will discuss in a future post. San Rafael is definitely worth checking out if you’re thinking of moving or just visiting!

San Rafael Today

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San Rafael is a city with a rich history that spans back to the early 1800s. The town was originally settled by four priests who were assigned to Mission San Rafael Archangel in 1817. After the Mexican War, the city began to grow and prosper, eventually becoming the thriving community it is today. If you’re looking for a locksmith company that can help you keep your home or business safe, look no further than Tal-Niv Locksmith Services. We provide a wide range of services including lock installation, repair, and replacement. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment!

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