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The corner of Montgomery and Clay is where John B. Montgomery landed when he came to hoist the U.S. flag after the Bear Flag Revolt of 1846.
In early June 1846, Montgomery and the ship he commanded, the USS Portsmouth, arrived in San Francisco Bay, then part of Mexican Alta California. As a result, Montgomery was involved, albeit as a witness only, in the events of the Bear Flag Revolt in which foreign residents, mostly American, revolted against the Mexican authorities. As a naval representative of the U.S. Government, he garnered the respect of the representatives of the Revolt and the Alta California government, as well as local U.S. dignitaries.
On July 9, 1846, Montgomery and his detachment from the Portsmouth raised the American flag over the plaza in the town of Yerba Buena (today’s San Francisco). The name of the plaza was later changed to Portsmouth Square, commemorating Montgomery’s ship.