Morgan Oyster Holdings, 1909: Height of Bay Oyster Industry
Authors: Gabriel Lee, Alec Norton, Andrew Robichaud, and Matthew BookerBy the first decade of the twentieth century, oyster production in San Francisco was a virtual monopoly, controlled by the Morgan Company. Given the size of the Bay, how was it possible that a few oyster beds on the western shore constituted a monopoly of production? Why didn't oyster growers use other parts of the Bay? By mapping possible oyster habitat and bay ownership, this project got closer to answering those questions, and opened a network of new historical questions. Using historical bathymetry data this project mapped possible oyster habitat (defined as two feet above and below "mean low tide" using documented criteria of oyster producers as well as the location of actual beds). Maps of assessed property show that by 1909 Morgan controlled virtually all of the productive oyster space within San Francisco Bay.