San Mateo County Genealogical Society's Blog featuring society events, projects, meeting notes and other items of relevance to genealogists.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

San Mateo County Places: City of San Mateo

Diseño del torreno [sic] de S. Mateo : [Calif.]
UC Berkeley - Bancroft Library
The Rancho San Mateo, which was comprised of the current Burlingame, Hillsborough and about half of the City of San Mateo was established in 1846 by a grant from Governor Pio Pico to Cayetano Arenas. Cayetano's father Luis sold the rancho to the American mercantile firm of Mellus & Howard with the unpredicibilities of the Bear Flag Revolt and the Mexican American War.

In 1849 Nicolas de Peyster moved into the abandoned outpost on San Mateo Creek, where sheep had earlier been grazed for San Francisco Mission.  He established a roadhouse, the first between San Francisco and San Jose.  A year later he moved the roadhouse to the other side of the creek into San Mateo House.  That structure stood until 1964.  In it's later years it served as a nurse's residence for the adjacent Mills Hospital.


View at San Mateo, San Mateo Co 
Lawrence & Houseworth, 1866 LOC Collections

With the coming of the railroad the area grew.  The first train went through San Mateo of 17 Oct 1863.  The line between San Francisco and San Mateo Was officially completed in 1864. Charles B Polhemus, main architect of the railroad, laid out a town and the population slowly grew.

However, San Mateo did not incorporate until 3 Sep 1894 when by a vote of 150 to 25 it officially became a town.  By then Crystal Springs Dam had been built, giving the area a secure source of water, and a  Fire Department had been established.

Official map of San Mateo County, California. Bromfield, D. (Davenport)
Schmidt Label & Litho. Co.  1894   LOC Collections
In 1902 San Mateo became the terminus of the San Francisco Street Car Line.  The earthquake of 1906 brought refugees down the peninsula and San Mateo along with the rest of the county grew.


City of San Mateo
San Mateo City Charter & Municipal Code
City of San Mateo Document Center
San Mateo Local History Collection - OAC (descriptions and online items)


You will find more information on the history of the City of San Mateo at:



More Maps





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