Among California's most flamboyant native sons, William Randolph Hearst was born in San Francisco on April 29, 1863. His father, George Hearst, was a mining engineer during the Gold Rush but it would be his son, William Randolph Hearst, who would "strike it rich" and find unequaled fame and fortune with a news media empire stretching from coast-to-coast, as well as pursuing his interests in politics and Hollywood films.
Young Hearst was smart and ambitious. He dropped out of Harvard University in 1887 and returned to San Francisco to take the helm as publisher of the San Francisco Examiner. Not content with a single newspaper, Hearst purchased the New York Morning Journal and other newspapers across the country. The Hearst newspaper empire was infamous for delivering "yellow journalism" and Hearst had unequaled influence on public opinion and on American policies at home and abroad including promoting the country into a war with Cuba in 1897. Seeking to expand his powerful influence, Hearst ran for political office numerous times and served in Congress. He also ran, unsuccessfully, for the office of Mayor of New York City and the U.S. Presidency.
Hearst's media empire stretched to include book and magazine publishing and film production in Hollywood. Upon the death of his father, Hearst expanded acreage that his father had purchased along the coast near San Luis Obispo to a ranch spanning 250,000 acres and set to work on his dream of building a magnificent home. He contracted architect Julia Morgan to design a fabulous "castle" which he named "La Cuesta Encantada", or the “Enchanted Hill.” Today, the home and property known as Hearst Castle at San Simeon is open to the public for tours. The "castle" has 165 rooms filled with priceless antiques and artwork from around the world, and 123 acres of gardens, terraces, pools, and incredible vistas of golden hills and the blue Pacific.