The Mechanics' Institute building houses the oldest library on the West Coast and one of the oldest chess clubs in the United States. It was organized in 1854 when San Francisco was a frontier community far removed from anywhere by a small group of citizens as a center for adult technical education. For five years, gold was the economic backbone of the town, but the ore of the Sierra placers began to run out. Shipping and trade were in a state of decline and at one point, one half of the city's population was unemployed. Residents looked to agriculture and manufacturing as a way of reviving the economy. The Institute organized initial interest in the industrial development of California, and exerted a strong influence on the early life of San Francisco. At the time, the United States was still an agricultural-based country, and industry was in an early stage of development. No school system in the Bay Area had any provision for technical education necessary for economic resurgence.