During the Gold Rush days, ships arriving in port became stranded when sailors would jump ship for gold country. The merchants of San Francisco, desperate to ship their goods, hired thugs to kidnap men from bars and brothels for ships lacking crew. From this was born the notorious Barbary Coast.
Explore the oldest surviving neighborhoods that survived the 1906 fire while visiting the saloons and brothels of the Barbary Coast. Learn of the Sydney Ducks, a gang of thugs who enjoyed setting fire to the city so they might loot it. Or the vigilantly mobs that stormed through the streets when the corrupt leadership of the city so often failed, condemning men to die.
Hear tales about crimps such as the legendary “Shanghai” Kelly who reportedly shanghaied 100 men in one night, the folk-villain “Shanghai Chicken” Devine who committed every crime from petty larceny to murder, and bare knuckled boxer Tommy Chandler who made sure ships got their crew and crimps got their pay. And listen in on the personal accounts of men and sailors who, when often cajoled by whisky spiked with opium or beaten into submission, would wake upon a ship sailing to Shanghai or beyond. Hence the term “shanghaied.”