This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Mission Dolores, San Francisco, in the days of Zorro


Of course the character of Zorro is fictional, but the setting, which is California in 1820, is real. And since I'm on a journey to try to learn more about Los Angeles history, I thought that it would be fun to start with the 1919 book "The Mask of Zorro" (originally titled "The Curse of Capistrano").


It's a pretty simple story, about a masked vigilante fighting against the injustices of a corrupt system. You know, Zorro. He's fighting for the downtrodden, a hero to those who have no voice! Great stuff. And each time the Governor is referred to, he is said to be at San Francisco de Asis, which is commonly referred to as Mission Dolores. Of course, Zorro is just a fictional story, and there's no guarantee that the writer got all of his facts right, but, like I said, it's a start for me.

Zorro himself is in Los Angeles, which is referred to in the book as Reina de Los Angeles. That's where his alter ego, the wealthy aristocrat Don Diego Vega, lives. There are also references to Santa Barbara, San Gabriel, and of course, Capistrano.

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Yesterday I discovered, to my delight, that the original mission in San Francisco is still there. It has survived since 1776, including earthquakes, fires, you name it. It was created by the Franciscans, who established a mission approximately every 30 miles apart (an average day's ride on horseback) along the King's Road between San Francisco and San Diego. When you see the signs that say "Camino Royale" on the Pacific Coast Highway, you are on the King's Road. The King of Spain.

Down with the Governor! ¡Viva Zorro!

Photo at the top of this post: Mission Dolores courtesy of Roger Hall. Used with permission.