Did you know that James Lick’s body is actually buried underneath the telescope in the observatory named after him? WEIRD, RIGHT?

James Lick was a piano maker who came to San Francisco in 1948 and made his fortune in real estate. After a successful career there, he moved to San Jose and invested in farms and orchards. At one point he was the richest man in California. Upon his death, he willed a large sum of money to build the world’s first permanent observatory atop Mount Hamilton. The bequest also required him to be buried beneath it, which was a fun thing people could do in the 1800’s. He died in 1867, and was re-interred under the telescope in 1887 when the observatory opened.

All kinds of stuff is named after Lick in the Bay Area – two high schools, a freeway, and train terminal among others. He helped fund the construction of Golden Gate Park, the construction of an old folks home, and many other civic projects.

Source: California, by Kevin Starr (2005)
A portrait of James Lick. He has short, but tousled, dark hair and an extremely thick beard and no moustache
James Lick
A photo of the telescope, shot from the floor looking up. Behind the telescope is the gridded internal structure of the domed roof
The telescope at Lick Observatory