Page:Mexico, California and Arizona - 1900.djvu/327

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307
SAN FRANCISCO.

building, of iron and stone, dark-colored, with a clock-tower in the centre. It is adjoined by the Safe Deposit Company, in a similar style, in the basement of which a glimpse is to be had of a splendid steel treasure-chamber, with a dozen life-size men in armor, gilded.

The large and agreeably proportioned Stock Exchange, on Pine Street, is of gray granite, with numerous polished columns. The board-room within is an amphitheatre, and a bronze railing protects the circle of seats. With its agreeable illumination and neat furniture, including Axminster rugs, it presents a much more home-like aspect than is the rule with such places. Mining stocks exclusively are dealt in.

It is quiet enough now. We have fallen upon evil days. Capitalists have withdrawn their millions to the East; ships come only in ballast, for grain, instead of with valuable exchange cargoes, and charge rates almost prohibitory; there is not one "turn-out" now on the Cliff House road where there were formerly a dozen; and real estate has shrunk fifty per cent.—if in some places it have any value at all.

This board was once the theatre of a speculative movement which took hold upon the community like madness. The aggregate value of the mining stocks on the list, at the period of highest prices, in the year 1875, was, in round numbers, $282,000,000. The aggregate value of the same stocks in the summer of 1881 was but $17,000,000. There had occurred a shrinkage of $265,000,000, or more than fifteen times the total value surviving.

What had happened? The "bottom had dropped out" of the famous "Comstocks," perhaps the richest mines known to history. "Consolidated Virginia," valued at $75,000,000, was now worth less than $1,000,000. "Sierra Nevada" fell from $27,000,000 to $825,000. But the