Christopher, George

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Christopher (1907-2000) was San Francisco's 34th mayor, serving two terms beginning January 1956 and ending January 1964.

Christopher was San Francisco's 34th mayor, serving two terms beginning Jan. 1956 and ending Jan. 1964.

From the description of George Christopher papers, 1950-2000 (bulk 1956-1963). (San Francisco Public Library). WorldCat record id: 48891204

Biographical/Historical note

George Christopher was born on December 8, 1907 to James and Mary Christopheles in Arcadia, Greece. Mary and her son joined James in San Francisco when George was a young boy. His father had a small market located south of Market Street. Christopher's father became ill when George was a teenager, so he worked during the day while earning his high school diploma and an accounting degree by night. He established an accounting office and married the former Tula Sarantitis. In the mid-1930s, he founded what would eventually become Christopher Dairy Farms and later became a millionaire. Christopher's involvement in the Greek community began with his membership in the American Hellenic Education and Progress Association. His business and civic participation with fellow Greeks would lead to their solid political support.

At one point a registered Democrat, Christopher was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1945 and later re-registered as a Republican. He served ten years as a supervisor, becoming President of the Board in 1950. In his first mayoral bid in 1951, he lost to Elmer Robinson. He then spearheaded the Charter amendment (passed in 1952) creating a two-term mayoral limit. In the next election, Christopher won in a landslide victory over Democrat George Reilly in 1955, serving two four-year terms (1956-1964). He made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate in 1958. Christopher attempted but failed in statewide campaigns, for Assembly, for Lieutenant Governor alongside Richard Nixon in 1962, and for the Republican gubernatorial candidacy (losing in a landslide to Ronald Reagan) in 1966. During that campaign, much was made of a misdemeanor milk price-fixing violation.

Under Christopher, the city was transformed from its working-class, waterfront days with projects including the Golden Gateway, Japan Center, Candlestick Park, and the Embarcadero Freeway. He was proud of building the city, and focused on government efficiency. Fortune magazine designated San Francisco as "one of the Best Administered Cities in the United States." As mayor, Christopher signed the Fair Employment Labor Ordinance outlawing discrimination by employers and labor unions. He hosted Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and French President Charles de Gaulle. Christopher is remembered for moving the Giants baseball team from New York to San Francisco. Those who were children at the time remember the Christopher Dairies milk cartons with free coupons to 49er football games.

Following his mayoral duties, Christopher remained active in charity work, business, and civic functions. He was a U.S. alternate delegate to the United Nations (in 1981), and served as a Department of Commerce advisor. He died on September 14, 2000. His wife, Tula, preceded him in death. They had no children.

From the guide to the George Christopher Papers, 1950-2000, 1956-1963, (San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Caspar W. Weinberger Papers, 1910-2005, (bulk 1951-2005) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Spyros P. Skouras Papers, 1942-1971 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Porter, Julia Gorman, 1897-. Julia Gorman Porter papers, 1906-1987 (bulk 1928-1987). UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Aronow, Abe. Bay Area faces and places : photograph archive by Abe Aronow, circa 1980-2010. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Christopher, George. George Christopher papers, 1950-2000 (bulk 1956-1963). San Francisco Public Library, Main Library
creatorOf George Christopher Papers, 1950-2000, 1956-1963 San Francisco History Center
referencedIn Knight, Goodwin J. (Goodwin Jess),. Goodwin J. Knight papers, 1896-1988 (bulk 1946-1970). Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Skouras, Spyros P., 1893-1971. Spyros P. Skouras papers, 1942-1971. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Frederick Douglas Haynes family papers, 1935-1980 California Historical Society
creatorOf Bishop, Scott, 1945-1990. Scott Bishop papers, 1989-1990. San Francisco Public Library, Main Library
referencedIn California State Government Oral Histories California State Archives
creatorOf Knight, George, 1914-2000. George Knight papers, 1955-1986. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Weinberger, Caspar W. Caspar W. Weinberger papers, 1910-2005 (bulk 1951-2005). Library of Congress
creatorOf Christopher, George. George Christopher : commercials, 1966. University of Oklahoma, Political Community Archives
referencedIn Goodwin J. (Goodwin Jess) Knight Papers, 1896-1988 (inclusive), 1946-1970 (bulk) Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Aronow, Abe. person
associatedWith Bishop, Scott, 1945-1990. person
associatedWith Haynes, Frederick Douglas, 1899-1971 person
associatedWith Knight, George, 1914-2000. person
associatedWith Knight, Goodwin, 1896-1970 person
associatedWith Knight, Goodwin J. (Goodwin Jess), person
associatedWith Porter, Julia Gorman, 1897- person
associatedWith Skouras, Spyros P., 1893-1971. person
associatedWith State Government Oral History Program (Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith University of Oklahoma. Political Commercial Archive. corporateBody
associatedWith Weinberger, Caspar W. person
associatedWith Weinberger, Caspar W. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
San Francisco (Calif.)
San Francisco (Calif.)
California--San Francisco
Television advertising
Mayors--California--San Francisco
Urban renewal--California--San Francisco
Advertising, political
City planning--California--San Francisco
City planning
Urban Renewal


Active 1950

Active 2000



Ark ID: w6x071br

SNAC ID: 32123966