The store that would eventually become known as Hammacher Schlemmer-one of the first national hardware stores-begins at 221 Bowery in New York City. Mr. Charles Tollner was the sole proprietor and creator of this bustling establishment that specializes in hard-to-find tools. Tollner is among the many immigrants arriving from Germany and Scandinavia as the industrial revolution in Europe displaces workers from jobs. By specializing in high-quality tools and equipment, Tollner's store quickly gains a reputation as the place to go when an item simply could not be found anywhere else.
On January 24, 1848, gold is discovered in California, eventually sparking a huge influx of prospectors from across the country and around the world to the area. During the resulting "Gold Rush", miners extract more than 750,000 pounds of the precious metal worth a total of $2 billion, and San Francisco grows from a settlement of about 200 to a boomtown of 36,000 by 1852.