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The Cliff Dwellers

Who was it said, “History repeats itself”?

In the encyclopedias we see little two-inch accounts of a very strange people who lived in cliffs, long before this continent was supposed to have any living life other than insects and other things that crawl.

Several centuries from now perhaps there will be an added footnote, when some learned researcher or scholar will attempt to tell how people in San Francisco lived.

The future encyclopedia will read something like this:

“The city is built on a flock of hills, skirted by the ocean. On each of these hills—some of the ninety-five degree angle variety—are so-called dwellings of anywhere from eight to ten tiers, or floors. Each of these tiers is divided into several small compartments, in which people live, exist or reside.”

The encyclopedian will go on to make a comparison” “The cliff-dwellers of ancient days, who lived in the hills of the Rio Colorado and the Rio Grande rivers, built their houses out of stone, and hewn rock. The modern cliff-dwellers selects the material for his dwelling, but instead of using the stone in its native form, he makes a hard stony substance of sand, built to resist the fiercest of gales and strongest of shocks.

“The ancient cliff-dweller’s home was sometimes several hundred feet high, the upper apartments being reached by ladders, or steps cut into the side of the cliff. The modern cliff-dweller in this also has made an improvement, because the higher floors are reached by automatic lifts, known as ‘elevators.’

“Although there was no necessity on account of the lack of adequate space and high land values, in the ancient cliff-dwelling days, to live in such close proximity, there was that constant fear of other war-like tribes, and unity meant strength and protection.

“The modern cliff-dwellers evoluted through entirely different sources, to their present state. In San Francisco, before the fire of 1906, people lived in homes of anywhere from eight to ten or twelve rooms, or flats of six or eight rooms. After the fire, there was a necessity of immediate dwellings, and many of the burned buildings were replaced with new cliff-dwellings or apartment houses, because they took up less space and housed more people. Some of the homes also were given over to this same purpose, and after the exposition more apartments were built, and the cliff-dwellers were in San Francisco to stay.

October 12, 1918