- Lick's will stipulated that all of his fortune should be used for the public good, including $700,000 for the building of the observatory.
- In 1888, Lick Observatory was completed and given to the University of California as the Lick Astronomical Department. The Observatory was the first permanently staffed mountain top observatory in the world and housed the largest refracting telescope in the world at that time.
- The body of James Lick lies beneath the refractor telescope he funded, and his will stipulates that fresh flowers be on his grave — always.
- In 1887 Lick's body was buried under the future site of the telescope, with a brass tablet bearing the inscription “Here lies the body of James Lick.”
- James Lick Mansion in Santa Clara is a nationally registered historical landmark, and is leased at very low rates to non-profit organizations. As of 2003 the mansion is occupied by the S.A.F.E. Place.
- In 1884, the Lick Old Ladies' Home, later renamed the University Mound Ladies Home, was established in San Francisco with a grant from the Lick estate.
- The Conservatory of Flowers and the statue of Francis Scott Key in Golden Gate Park were donated to San Francisco by Lick.
- The Pioneer Monument in front of San Francisco's City Hall was donated by Lick to the city.
- James Lick High School in San Jose and James Lick Middle School, Lick-Wilmerding High School, and the James Lick Freeway, all in San Francisco, are named in his honor.
- The Southern Pacific Railroad named a Control Point after Lick (CP Lick) on their Coast Line route in San Jose, California. At the same location there was also once a Lick Station and Lick Branch rail line that went into San Jose's Almaden Valley but was abandoned in the early 1980s.
- The crater Lick on the Moon and the asteroid 1951 Lick are named after him.
- Lickdale, Pennsylvania, a village approximately 3 miles west of Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania (formerly Stumpstown), was named for James Lick. Lickdale was a prominent 19th century canal port along a branch of the Union Canal and contained a large commercial ice house.
- A large monument to James Lick was erected by the local citizens in the community cemetery in Fredericksburg, Pennsylvania.
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