This statue of the Goddess of Liberty is a replica of the statue erected by students in Tiananmen in 1989. The original was crushed by tanks in the enduing massacre.|
Portsmouth Square is located on the site of the first public square established in the early 1800s in the Mexican community of Yerba Buena, whose name was changed to San Francisco in 1847. During the Mexican-American War, when the Americans were bent on acquiring Alta California, Captain John Berrien Montgomery of the USS Portsmouth was ordered to seize Yerba Buena. On July 9, 1846, the first American flag was raised near the Mexican adobe custom house in the plaza that would eventually be named Portsmouth Square in honor of the ship.
Many historical events have happened at the plaza. In 1847, the first public school in California was erected at the southwest corner of plaza. On May 11, 1848, the discovery of gold was announced when Sam Brannan showed his gold to a crowd. On June 12, 1849, a crowd was gathered at the plaza, demanding election of delegates at the Monterey Constitutional Convention. An assembly was organized on July 16, 1849 to fight against a lawless body 'The Hounds.' On August 29, 1850, a memorial service was held after the death of US President Zachary Taylor. The First Admission Day celebration was held October 29, 1850 when California became the 31st state of the United States. On June 1, 1852, a crowd protested against the purchase of the Jenny Lind Theatre as the city hall. On September 18, 1859, Colonel E. D. Baker delivered an oration after U.S. Senator David C. Broderick was killed in a duel with California Chief Justice David S. Terry.