San Francisco

views updated May 09 2018

San Francisco

Getting There
Getting Around
Public Safety
Health Care
Parks and Recreation
Performing Arts
Libraries and Museums
Holidays and Festivals
Famous Citizens
For Further Study

San Francisco, California, United States of America, North America

Founded: 1776; Incorporated: 1850
Location: The Pacific coast of northern California, United States, North America
Motto: "Gold in Peace and Iron in War"
Flower: Dahlia
Time Zone: 4 am Pacific Standard Time (PST) = noon Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
Ethnic Composition: White, 67%; Black, 11%; American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut, 0.5%; Asian and Pacific Islander, 29%; Hispanic origin (may be of any race), 14%
Elevation: 47 m (155 ft)
Latitude and Longitude: 37°77'N, 122°41'W
Coastline: 4050 km (2530 mi)
Climate : Mediterranean-type climate with consistent, moderate temperatures. The year is divided into distinct dry and wet seasons, with most precipitation occurring between November and March. A distinguishing climate feature is the fog that rolls in from the Pacific Ocean.
Annual Mean Temperature: 15°C (59°F); January 12°C (53°F); August 18°C (65°F)
Average Annual Precipitation (rainfall and melted snow): 49 cm (19.33 in)
Government: Mayor-council
Weights and Measures: Standard U.S.
Monetary Units: Standard U.S.
Telephone Area Codes: 415
Postal Codes: 94101-88

1. Introduction

Situated on a peninsula separating San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco is a uniquely picturesque city, whose scenic attractions include the largest cultivated urban park in the country, Golden Gate Park. Its notoriously steep streets, traversed by the famous cable cars, are home to a remarkably diverse ethnic population, and the city's reputation for tolerance and diversity is also evident in its history as a mecca for the gay community. Known for sophisticated cultural innovation and experimentation, San Francisco was the gathering place of the "beat" generation in the 1950s and a focal point of the 1960s counterculture, a hotbed of political protest and the birthplace of the "San Francisco Sound." Still known for its cultural attractions, today the Bay Area is also famous for its concentration of cutting-edge high-technology firms, which have drawn even more new residents to this populous region.

2. Getting There

The city of San Francisco is situated at the tip of a peninsula surrounded by the Pacific Ocean on the west, the San Francisco Bay on the east, and the Golden Gate, a narrow marine passageway between San Francisco and Marin County to the north.


Several interstate highways provide easy access to the city, including U.S.-101 and State Route 1 (the Pacific Coastal Highway). I-5, the north-south highway that runs from Canada to Mexico, reaches San Francisco through Loops 580 and 680. U.S.-50 also passes through the city.

Bus and Railroad Service

Amtrak provides service to San Francisco on the California Zephyr, which runs through Salt Lake City, Denver, and eastward to Chicago, and the Coast Starlight, which runs between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Trains with regional routes through California include the Capitols and the San Joaquins.


San Francisco International Airport, one of the nation's busiest, handles most domestic and international flights to and from the city. It services flights from about 50 major carriers.


With 40 deep-water piers, San Francisco is one of the leading port cities on the Pacific coast, handling about one-third of the country's West Coast trade, amounting to more than 200,000 tons of cargo annually. It has been designated a U.S. Port of Entry and a free trade zone. Freight is also carried to and from the region by a number of major rail carriers and trucking companies, and all major air freight carriers land at San Francisco International Airport.

San Francisco Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 724,000
Area: 122 sq km (47 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: 59.5% white; 29.1% Asian or Pacific Islander; 10.9% black; and 0.5% Native American
Nicknames: The Golden Gate City, Baghdad in the Bay

Metropolitan Area

Population: 4,051,000
Description: San Francisco and surrounding communities
World population rank 1: 59
Percentage of national population 2: 1.5%
Average yearly growth rate: 1.0%
Ethnic composition: 67% white; 25% Asian or Pacific Islander; 7% black; 1% other

  1. The San Francisco metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of the United States' total population living in the San Francisco metropolitan area.

3. Getting Around

Situated on 40 hills of varying heightsamong the highest are Telegraph Hill, Nob Hill, and Russian HillSan Francisco is known for its steep streets, many of which ascend and descend hillsides, the result of insistence by early planners on imposing a strict grid pattern on the city rather than following the natural contours of the land. The two hills of Twin Peaks mark the geographic center of the city, which is divided into a number of distinct neighborhoods, many of whose streets are laid out in grid patterns. Bisecting much of the city from southwest to northeast is Market Street, whose southwestern-most portion is called Portola Drive. The Golden Gate Bridge runs northward across the Golden Gate straight; the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge runs north-eastward across San Francisco Bay.

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) provides commuter rail service between the city and 26 stations in the East Bay area. The Municipal Railway System (Muni) operates San Francisco's famed cable carspopular with both commuters and touristsand a system of above-and underground light-rail vehicles. There is also ferry service between San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley.


Many of the sights in downtown San Francisco can be covered on walking tours. Areas for which tours are available include Chinatown and Pacific Heights. Among the tours focusing on specific areas of interest are Victorian homes tour and a Dashiell Hammett tour that covers sites linked to his detective, Sam Spade. The city's restored cable carswhich have been declared a historical landmarkcarry visitors over a 16-kilometer (ten-mile) route. Bus tours of San Francisco and the Bay Area are also available, as are scenic cruises of San Francisco Bay, which offer views of the San Francisco skyline, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz prison.

4. People

Known for its ethnic diversity, San Francisco has one of the country's highest concentrations of new immigrants. The 1990 census recorded a population of approximately 724,000 in the city of San Francisco, of which 59.5 percent were white, 29.1 percent Asian or Pacific Islander, 10.9 percent black, and 0.5 percent Native American. The surrounding area, designated by the Census Bureau as San Francisco's Primary Statistical Metropolitan Area (PMSA), had a 1990 population of 1.6 million. In 1996 its population was still under 1.7 million, and its racial composition was 67 percent white; 25 percent Asian or Pacific Islander; and seven percent black.

City Fact Comparison
(United States)(Egypt)(Italy)(China)
Population of urban area14,051,00010,772,0002,688,00012,033,000
Date the city was founded1776AD 969753 BC723 BC
Daily costs to visit the city2
Hotel (single occupancy)$139$193$172$129
Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)$44$56$59$62
Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.)$2$14$15$16
Total daily costs$185$173$246$207
Major Newspapers3
Number of newspapers serving the city2132011
Largest newspaperSan Francisco ChronicleAkhbar El Yom/Al AkhbarLa RepubblicaRenmin Ribao
Circulation of largest newspaper475,3241,159,450754,9303,000,000
Date largest newspaper was established1865194419761948
1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.
2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.
3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.

5. Neighborhoods

Neighborhoods in the northern part of San Francisco include the wealthy Pacific Heights district, whose mansions provide dramatic views of the Bay; Nob Hill, site of the "crookedest street in the world" (Lombard Street); North Beach and Chinatown, home to the largest single concentration of Chinese outside of China; the financial district, dominated by the TransAmerica Pyramid and the Bank of America building; and the Western Addition, with its gracious restored Victorian homes. Districts close to the center of the city include Haight-Ashbury, cradle of the 1960s counterculture; the Mission District, site of the historic Mission Dolores and home to the city's largest Hispanic population; the Central area, home of the Castro, for decades a gay and lesbian mecca; and the South of Market district, a heavily commercial area that has attracted many high-technology start-up firms. To the south lie South Bayshore, which combines residential and commercial properties and is also home to the city's produce markets; the largely working-class South Central area; and the pricier Ingleside, near San Francisco State University and San Francisco City College.

6. History

The fog that rolls in off the Pacific Ocean hid the present-day site of San Francisco from Spanish conquistadors for two centuries after they first discovered California. A small party of explorers traveling overland from Mexico toward Canada and led by Sergeant José Ortega first stumbled on the area in 1769, and settlement began in 1776. A small town, called Yerba Buena, was established, but for over half a century it attracted little attention and was populated mostly by missionaries. The United States claimed it in 1846, during the Mexican War, and its population nearly doubled with the arrival of over 200 Mormon settlers.

The town's situation changed dramatically with the discovery of gold in 1848 at Sutters Mill, about 225 kilometers (140 miles) away, and the onset of the California Gold Rush. The Gold Rush brought wealth and expansion to the city as it grew to accommodate the thousands of prospectors arriving to seek their fortunes, many of whom later settled permanently in the area. However, the Gold Rush also created a wave of lawlessness as saloons, gambling joints, and brothels were opened to serve thousands of temporary settlers who considered themselves outside the law. San Francisco was incorporated in 1850, and the city's permanent residents began forming vigilante groups in the 1850s to clean up the town, eventually restoring order.

San Francisco continued to grow in the latter half of the nineteenth century, receiving a major boost from the completion of the transcontinental railway in 1869, as well as a silver boom in Nevada. By the turn of the century, it was home to about a third-of-a-million people. The new century, however, soon brought disaster in the form of the great earthquake of April 18, 1906, in which over 500 people perished. Ten square kilometers (four square miles) of the city were destroyed as fires raged out of control for three days. However, the people of San Francisco forged ahead in the face of tragedy and rebuilt their city, with the help of donations that poured in from many quarters following the disaster. By 1915 the city triumphantly hosted its first world's fair, the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in honor of the completion of the Panama Canal.

The first half of the twentieth century was a period of continued growth spearheaded by the completion of major buildings and infrastructure projects, including the damming of the Tuoloumne River at the Hetch Hetchy Canyon and the construction of two great bridges completed within a year of each other: the San Francisco-Oak-land Bay Bridge (1936) and the Golden Gate Bridge (1937). With the growth of industry came the development of an active labor movement, which became one of the dominant powers in the city. The longshoremen's strike in 1930 was the largest in U.S. history. World War II (193945) further boosted industrial production in the city, although the period was marred by the forced relocation of thousands of Bay Area Japanese Americans and their detention in internment camps for the duration of the war.

The postwar period has seen continued economic growth and civic expansion, but the city has also had to confront problems typical of major urban areas, including flight to the surrounding suburbs, and the blight and decay of downtown areas. Urban renewal began in the 1960s and 1970s; the downtown area was redeveloped, and the Rapid Transit System was introduced to make the central city more accessible to those on the periphery. During this period, the Bay Area became a focal point of the youth counterculture that was sweeping the nation, and a center for student protest against the Vietnam War (19451973) and other types of activism, including the struggle for gay rights. The 1970s ended on a somber note with the 1979 assassination of Mayor George Moscone and the city's first openly gay city supervisor, Harvey Milk. That same year San Francisco elected its first woman mayor, Dianne Feinstein.

In 1989 San Francisco experienced another major earthquake. However, the city moved forward in the following decade. Its city hall was refurbished, and important new facilities were built, including a museum of modern art, a new main library, and an arts center.

7. Government

San Francisco, which is both a city and a county, has a mayor-council form of government. The mayor, who serves as the chief executive, is elected to a four-year term, as are the 11 members of the city council. The city administrator and controller are appointed by the mayor. Elected officials include the city assessor, public defender, district attorney, sheriff, and attorney. In 1995 San Francisco's municipal government employed 26,000 persons.

8. Public Safety

In 1995 San Francisco had a total crime index figure of 8,190 crimes reported to police per 100,000 residents. A total of 1,737 reports were violent crimes (murder, 17; rape, 69; robbery, 653; and aggravated assault, 998), and 6,713 were property crimes (burglary, 965; larceny, 4,625; and motor vehicle theft, 1,123).

In May 1999, the city of San Francisco, together with three other California municipalities and two counties, sued gun manufacturers for promoting the illegal sale of guns that are ultimately used to commit crimes. Three industry trade associations and 28 gun makers were named in the suit, which charged them with creating an illegal secondary market for guns and deliberately producing enough guns to perpetuate it; designing guns to make them attractive to criminals; falsely advertising the safety of their products; evading state and federal gun control laws; and selling defective and unsafe weapons. The gun-industry suit follows the precedent set in 1996 when San Francisco became the first city in the United States to sue the tobacco industry, also under California's unfair business practices law. Under the terms of the 1998 settlement of that suit, California became the only state in which cities were to receive direct compensation from the tobacco industry.

9. Economy

San Francisco's coastal location and natural harbor have made it an important shipping center throughout its history, and it is still one of the major port cities on the West Coast, although today most shipping activity actually occurs in nearby Oakland.

Since the nineteenth century, San Francisco has been known as a financial center. Today it is home to leading banks (Wells Fargo) and insurance companies (TransAmerica, Fireman's Fund) and the site of the Pacific Stock Exchange, as well as branches of the Federal Reserve and United States Mint. Some 500 Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the city, including Charles Schwab & Co., Bechtel Engineering, Chevron Oil, and Levi Strauss & Co.

San Francisco's newest growth areas are computers and electronics, and biotechnology. The city's history of involvement in defense-related industries and its location near such high-tech centers as Stanford University and the famed Silicon Valley have created a boom in computers, scientific instrument, and other electronics fields. Home of the pioneering Genentech firm, founded in the 1970s, San Francisco is also on the cutting edge of the biotechnology industry, with some 500 companies in the area specializing in pharmaceuticals, medical electronics, bionics, and related areas.

The cost of living in the Bay Area is substantially higher than the national average. In 1996 the median sale price for a single-family home was $319,985, well above the national average, and apartments rent from $550 per month for a one-room studio to $1,500 for two-and three-bedroom apartments or houses. However, the income of the area's residents is also above averagetheir wages and salaries are among the highest in the nation, partly as a result of their relatively high level of education and the concentration of jobs in well-paid areas, including high-technology fields and the professions.

10. Environment

San Francisco is situated on a peninsula that forms the western boundary of the 1,285-square-kilometer (496-square-mile) San Francisco Bay. Its hilly terrain is part of the Coast Ranges, which extend from Oregon southward to Santa Barbara County. Among the highest peaks in the region are Mount Tamalpais (784 meters/2,571 feet) and Mount Diablo (1,173 meters/3,849 feet).

Other than its harbor, the outstanding natural feature of the Bay Areaand the one with the greatest potential to affect the lives of its residentsis the region's location on top of a network of fault lines, which has led to two major earthquakes in this century, in 1906 and 1989. The San Andreas is the best known of these tectonic faults, where portions of the earth's crust slide past each other. Normally these motions amount to an imperceptible five centimeters (two inches) per year; occasionally, however, excess pressure builds up against these plates, and when it is released, an earthquake occurs.

In 1994 the city inaugurated a 50-year plan to dispose of the millions of tons of sediment that wash into San Francisco Bay annually, threatening shipping and other activities.

11. Shopping

San Francisco offers a varied and eclectic shopping experience. Union Square, in the northeastern part of the city, is the major shopping district and home to most of the city's department stores, including Macy's, Neiman Marcus, Gump's, and Nordstrom, which anchors the huge San Francisco Shopping Centre, site of over 100 stores and restaurants. The Embarcadero Center, located in the financial district, is a four-hectare (ten-acre) commercial complex of shops and restaurants. Also located in the financial district is the exclusive Crocker Galleria, featuring designer clothing and specialty shops. The Jackson Square Historic District offers over 20 antique stores.

In addition to souvenir shops and specialty museums, Fisherman's Wharf offers four major retail complexes: Ghirardelli Square, anchored by a chocolate factory, the Cannery (a converted canning factory), Pier 39, and the Anchorage. For the budget-minded, the South of Market neighborhood offers a variety of bargain outlets and secondhand shops. San Francisco's ethnic neighborhoods provide a colorful shopping experience: goods from throughout Latin America can be found in the heavily Hispanic Mission District, and Chinatown offers all types of Asian goods, some in open-air markets. San Francisco is also widely known as a bookstore lover's paradise.

12. Education

The San Francisco Unified School District has approximately 105 public schools covering kindergarten through grade 12, with an average daily attendance of 63,900. The city's private and parochial schools, numbering about 140, enroll an additional 23,600 students.

Altogether, there are more than 35 colleges and universities located in the Bay Area, including the University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco State University, the University of San Francisco, Golden Gate University, and the University of California at Berkeley. Specialized educational facilities include the Hastings College of Law, the California School of Professional Psychology, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

13. Health Care

San Francisco offers state-of-the-art health-care facilities. The San Francisco metropolitan statistical area had 5,209 office-based physicians in 1995 when its 23 community hospitals had 4,999 beds. San Francisco's largest hospital is San Francisco General Medical Center, with 550 beds and a highly respected emergency and trauma center. The hospital was also the site of the first specialized AIDS unit in the country. In 199697, it had 23,764 admissions, 391,661 outpatient visits, and employed 3,239 people. Other health-care facilities include the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center, St. Francis Memorial Hospital, and Seton Medical Center.

14. Media

San Francisco has two major daily newspapers: the San Francisco Chronicle (morning) and the San Francisco Examiner (evening); both papers jointly publish the Sunday paper, the San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle. Neighborhood publications include the Richmond Review, San Francisco Downtown, the Haight Ashbury Free Press, and the New Mission News. San Francisco Business magazine is published by the city's chamber of commerce, while San Francisco Focus is a regional-interest magazine. San Francisco is also the book publishing capital of the West Coast. The major commercial networks, public television, and foreign-language stations are all represented among the city's nine television stations, and there are 33 am and FM radio stations.

15. Sports

The Bay Area is home to major league teams in all the major spectator sports. In baseball, there are the National League's San Francisco Giants and the American League's Oakland Athletics ("Oakland A's"). Teams from both San Francisco and Oakland also play in the National Football League (NFL): the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders. In basketball, Oakland's Golden State Warriors play in the National Basketball Association (NBA). All the San Francisco teams play in 3Com Park (formerly Candlestick Park); the Oakland teams play at the Oakland Coliseum. Also in the Bay Area are the National Hockey League's San Jose Sharks.

San Francisco is also home to the nation's third-largest marathon, the San Francisco Marathon, held annually in July. Other spectator sports include horse racing at Golden Gate Fields and Bay Meadows and auto racing at Baylands Raceway Park and other venues.

16. Parks and Recreation

Golden Gate Park, stretching five kilometers (three miles) inland from Ocean Beach toward the heart of the city, is the nation's largest cultivated urban park. Covering a total area of over 405 hectares (1,000 acres), it has 43 kilometers (27 miles) of footpaths and 12 kilometers (seven-and-a-half miles) of equestrian trails. Its varied landscape includes gardens and woods, as well as man-made lakes and waterfalls. San Franciscans use the park for everything from quiet strolls and picnics to outdoor sports. Located within its boundaries are an arboretum, a glass flower conservatory housing over 20,000 species of rare plants, a Japanese tea garden, an eight-hectare (20-acre) rhododendron garden, and a children's playground.

Situated on both sides of the Golden Gate waterway between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, and connected by the Golden Gate Bridge, is the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the world's largest urban park. Covering a total of 28,329 hectares (70,000 acres), it offers hiking trails, beaches, campgrounds, nature preserves, and scenic lookouts over both the ocean and the bay.

Outdoor activities available in San Francisco year round include hiking, camping, bicycling, horseback riding, hang gliding, and golf. Popular water sports include swimming, fishing, boating, water skiing, and surfing.

17. Performing Arts

San Francisco is known for its rich and varied cultural scene, which embraces both European (Western) and non-Western traditions in the performing arts. Its flagship musical institution is the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1911. Appointed in 1995, music director Michael Tilson Thomas has expanded the group's repertoire to include a greater number of twentieth-century works, as well as the standard classical and Romantic offerings. Other well-known musical ensembles founded in San Francisco include the Kronos Quartet and the male choir Chanticleer. The San Francisco Opera, widely considered the leading opera company in the western United States, was founded in 1923, making it one of the nation's oldest opera companies. Jazz has flourished in the Bay Area since the 1940s and 1950s, the heyday of area native Dave Brubeck (b. 1920). The 1960s made San Francisco one of the nation's rock capitals, birthplace of the "San Francisco Sound," exemplified by the Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Airplane, and Janis Joplin's band, Big Brother and the Holding Company.

The San Francisco Ballet, the country's oldest resident ballet company, has a wide repertoire of works by both classical and twentieth-century choreographers, and the Oakland Ballet has also made a name for itself in the region. San Francisco's modern dance troupes include Contraband.

San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre is considered one of the country's leading regional theaters and also runs a highly regarded drama school. The San Francisco Mime Troupe, founded 40 years ago, is still popular with local audiences and tours widely.

18. Libraries and Museums

The San Francisco Public Library, founded in 1878, serves a population of nearly 800,000 from a main building and 26 branches. With almost two-anda-half million book volumes, it has an annual circulation of close to five-anda-half million. The library has special collections in the areas of Chinese language, calligraphy, gay and lesbian history, science fiction, and humor.

San Francisco's premier art museum is the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, located in a striking modern building designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta (b. 1943), opposite the Yerba Buena Gardens, after moving from its longtime site in the Civic Center. The museum, which houses more than 17,000 pieces of art, is known locally as "Sf-MOMA." Other major art collections are found at the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, which features European paintings; it is located in Golden Gate Park, where it shares a building with the Asian Art Museum. San Francisco is also home to an eclectic array of specialty museums, including the American Carousel Museum, the National Maritime Museum, the San Francisco International Toy Museum, the Old Mint, the Telephone Museum, the San Francisco Fire Department Museum, the Chinese Culture Center Museum, and the San Francisco Crafts and Folk Art Museum.

19. Tourism

San Francisco's natural beauty, mild weather, and cultural attractions have made tourism one of the city's leading industries, and there are some 30,000 hotel rooms available for visitors. In addition to vacationers and sightseers, about one-and-a-half million visitors to the city attend conventions and trade shows in the city every year. They are served by an outstanding array of meeting facilities, including the Civic Auditorium, which seats nearly 8,000 people; the Brooks Exhibit Hall, which provides 8,361 square meters (90,000 square feet) of exhibition space; and the 55,740-square-meter (600,000-square-foot) Moscone Center, undergoing an expansion slated for completion in 2000.

In 1995 San Francisco attracted two-and-a-half million foreign visitors, the fourth-highest number of any city in the United States.

20. Holidays and Festivals

Chinese New Year celebration
Sports & Boat Show

Arts of the Pacific Asian Show
Pacific Orchid Exposition

Bouquets to Art
Contemporary Crafts Market
International Asian Film Festival
St. Patrick's Day Parade
San Francisco Garden Show

Easter Parade and Hat Promenade

Cherry Blossom Festival
Macy's Flower Show

Late April-early May
San Francisco International Film Festival

Cinco de Mayo Celebrations
Traditional Music and Dance Festival
Spring Festival Arts & Crafts Fair
San Francisco Examiner Bay to Breakers Race
Norway Day Festival

Ethnic Dance Festival
Union Street Festival
Street Performers Festival
North Beach Festival

Mid-June to Mid-August
Stern Grove Midsummer Music Festival

Late June-July
San Francisco International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival

Fillmore Street Festival
Fourth of July Waterfront Festival
Jazz and All That Art
Jazz and Wine at Embarcadero Center
San Francisco Marathon

July-early October
San Francisco Shakespeare Festival

A la Carte A la Park
Nihonmachi Street Fair

Festival of the Culinary Arts
Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival
San Francisco Fringe Theater Festival
San Francisco Blues Festival

Fleet Week
Great Halloween and Pumpkin Festival
Viva Mexico

Late October-early November
San Francisco Jazz Festival

Polka Festival Weekend (Thanksgiving Weekend) and Polka Hall of Fame Induction

21. Famous Citizens

Ansel Adams (190284), photographer.

The "Beat" writers who were based in San Francisco in the 1950s, including Lawrence Ferlinghetti (b. 1920), Jack Kerouac (192269), and Allen Ginsberg (b. 1926).

Ambrose Bierce (18421914), satirist.

Herb Caen (191697), columnist.

Philo Taylor Farnsworth (190671), inventor of the first all-electronic television.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (b. 1933).

Jerry Garcia (194295), leader of the rock group the Grateful Dead.

Bill Graham (b. 1931), rock and roll promoter.

Bret Harte (18361902), local-color author.

William Randoph Hearst (18631951), founder of a newspaper empire.

Jack London (18761916), adventure writer.

John Muir (18381914), naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club.

Frank Norris (18701902), naturalist.

Randy Shilts (19511994), journalist, author, and AIDS activist.

Leland Stanford (182493), businessman and philanthropist.

Amy Tan (b. 1952), author.

22. For Further Study


Cityguide Online. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

Convention and Visitors Bureau. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

San Francisco Guide. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

San Francisco home page. [Online] Available (accessed October 14, 1999).

Government Offices

City Hall
401 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 554-4000

Mayor's Office
401 Van Ness Avenue, Rm. 336
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 554-6141

San Francisco Planning Commission
1660 Mission St. 5th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 558-6414

Tourist and Convention Bureaus

San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau
Convention Plaza
201 Third Street, Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 974-6900


Golden State
R.H.L./Golden State Inc.
555 Nineteenth St.
San Francisco, CA 94107

San Francisco Business Times Magazine
275 Battery St., Suite 940
San Francisco, CA 94111

San Francisco Chronicle
901 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94103-2988

San Francisco Examiner
110 Fifth St.
San Francisco, CA 94103


Barrett, Liz. Frommer's Irreverent Guide to San Francisco. 2nd ed. New York: Macmillan Travel, 1998.

Benton, Lisa M. The Presidio: From Army Post to National Park. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998.

Caen, Herb. Baghdad by the Bay. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1949.

Chester, Carole. San Francisco. New York: Longmeadow Press, 1994.

Doss, Margot Patterson. The New San Francisco at Your Feet: Best Walks in a Walker's City. 3rd ed. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991.

Fong-Torres, Shirley. San Francisco Chinatown: A Walking Tour. San Francisco: China Books & Periodicals, 1991.

Gold, Herbert. Bohemia: Where Art, Angst, Love, and Strong Coffee Meet. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993.

O'Reilly, James, Larry Habegger, and Sean O'Reilly . Travelers' Tales San Francisco. 1st ed. San Francisco: Travelers' Tales, Inc., 1996.

Twain, Mark. Mark Twain's San Francisco. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963.


Jaffe Productions in association with Hearst Entertainment Television. Golden Gate Bridge. [videorecording]. New York, NY: A&E Home Video, 1995. 50-min videocassette.

Going Places. San Francisco. James Avery, host. MPI Home Video, 1998.

San Francisco

views updated Jun 08 2018


The discovery of gold in the mid-nineteenth century transformed the small fogbound coastal trading post of Yerba Buena into the sophisticated, cosmopolitan, crowded, and often violent city of San Francisco. The men and women who passed through or settled in the city included poets and reporters, novelists and historians—superb storytellers who soon created a vibrant literary culture. To set them in context it is useful to look at three eras of San Francisco history and literature: the precontact period, the colonial age, and the exuberant decades during and after the gold rush.


By the time of contact with Europeans at the beginning of the seventeenth century, California had the largest (from 250,000 to a million) and most varied indigenous population in North America. The Costanoans, Spanish for "coast dwellers," who inhabited the bay area by 500 c.e. (Pritzker, p. 123) lived in small tribelets, trading and occasionally fighting with other communities. They communicated their values, beliefs, and warm, sometimes ribald, sense of humor in a rich oral literature. It was not the object of the Spanish missionaries who arrived in 1769 to decimate the California Indians, but that was the result. In Literary San Francisco (1980), Nancy J. Peters states that,

The missions were to convert Indians, integrating them as peon labor. . . . The missions extinguished a centuries-old economic and social life. Stripped of their language and identity, deprived of freedom, rounded up by soldiers and kept under guard, the tribes . . . died from European diseases and despair. (Ferlinghetti, p. 8)

In addition, "between 1770 and 1832, the Costanoan population fell by more than 80 percent" (Pritzker, p. 123).


The area that became the state of California was known to its Spanish conquerors as Alta California. San Francisco Bay remained hidden behind a curtain of fog until José Francisco Ortega discovered it in 1769 and returned in 1776 with Father Junipero Serra and a group of settlers. At the entrance to the bay they built a presidio (army post), which remained a working post through the Spanish, Mexican, and American eras, and a few miles inland they founded the Mission of San Francisco de Asís, or Mission Dolores. Serra's fellow Franciscan, Father Francisco Palóu (c. 1722–c. 1789), consecrated the mission and served there for nine years. Palóu became San Francisco's first writer when he wrote Serra's biography, published in Mexico in 1787, and the chronicles of his own California years, Notícias de la Nueva California, first published as part of the multivolume Documentos para la Historia de Mexico in 1857.

In the early 1800s, Alta California was a ranching society with an economy based on agriculture and raising cattle for beef and hides. Towns were small, professionals few (one writer applauded the absence of lawyers), and industry so lacking that California at great expense imported its manufactured goods (for example, shoes made in New England from California hides). The Californios' thriving families and communities, the athleticism and zest of life lived on horseback were admired by some American visitors whose letters contributed to the enduring but too often unjustified hope that California could cure physical and spiritual ills. But most felt contempt for the Californios. Both attitudes can bee seen in the experience of Richard Henry Dana Jr. (1815–1882), a Harvard student weakened by measles who decided that shipping out as a sailor aboard a Boston ship trading hides and manufactured goods off the California coast (1835–1836) was what he most needed to recover. He was right. Dana survived an experience so brutal that he devoted much of his life to improving the condition of sailors. The book he wrote when he returned to Boston, Two Years before the Mast, became a best-seller when it was published in 1840, and is considered the first California literary classic. Dana admired San Francisco Bay, which he saw briefly, but was appalled at the lack of industry and what he thought was the Californios' laziness and bad morals. Were California to be settled by Protestant and puritanical Americans, he felt, what might they make of it!


In fact the Americans were slowly on their way. In 1821 Mexico became independent from Spain and began encouraging immigration, offering land to anyone willing to convert to Catholicism, marry a Californio, and take Mexican citizenship. From the East Coast came explorers in the spirit of what would after 1845 be called Manifest Destiny. In 1835 Captain William Richardson and his family settled on San Francisco Bay in a spot called Yerba Buena, meaning "good herb." When Dana saw Yerba Buena from the deck of his ship there was a lone hut for trade with the ships and Indians. But in 1845 after the United States annexed Texas, and with the South and the Pacific West opening for settlement, increasing numbers of emigrants trekked west, the most infamous being the unfortunate Donner Party, which, trapped and starving in the snows of the Sierra Nevada in the winter of 1846–1847, resorted to cannibalism to survive.

In 1846 war broke out between the United States and Mexico, and Yerba Buena was seized by the Americans; the first American alcalde, a sort of combined mayor and justice of the peace, was elected. Alfred Robinson (1807–1895), a trader who had married into a Californio family, published Life in California during a Residence of Several Years in ThatTerritory, in which he predicted that gold and silver mining and an influx of new emigrants would create a populous and thriving city. That year the population indeed more than doubled when Samuel Brannan (1819–1889), a printer, newspaperman, and Mormon leader, landed in town with 238 Mormon pioneers from New York. In 1847 he founded the California Star, the first newspaper of the city of San Francisco—for so the new alcalde, Washington A. Bartlett, had renamed the town. And in 1848 Brannan, upon learning of the discovery of gold in the American River, about eighty miles northeast of San Francisco, cornered the market in mining implements and other necessary supplies, opened a store, and then sparked gold fever by running about town crying out the news. Ironically in June of that year Brannan had to close down his newspaper because his staff all left for the goldfields.

The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo allowed the United States to annex the rest of the Southwest. Clearly the gold discovered that year did not bring California into the American fold, but the discovery did forever change San Francisco. Occurring in a decade of famine in Ireland and China, revolution in much of Europe, and industrial unrest in Britain, it gave hope to hundreds of thousands.


When San Francisco's second alcalde, Edwin Bryant (1805–1869), recorded the opening of the gold rush in What I Saw in California (1848), San Francisco had become a mix of civilization and vigilantism. By late 1849 the population had skyrocketed to more than thirty thousand and was still growing. All kinds of people poured into California: the sophisticated, the greedy, the thoughtful, the violent.

In 1849 the first theatrical performance in San Francisco was held, and the first English-language book was published. That January Brannan's defunct California Star combined with another paper to became San Francisco's first daily, the Alta California. In 1850 California was admitted as a free state into the Union, and Bayard Taylor (1825–1878), a prolific travel writer and novelist, published his readable and still popular impressions of gold rush San Francisco in Eldorado; or, Adventures in the Path of Empire. The year 1851 saw the first performance in San Francisco of grand opera, Vincenzo Bellini's La Sonnambula (The Sleepwalker). In 1852 a Philharmonic Society performed in a twelve-hundred-seat hall, and the following year the California Academy of Sciences was founded. In 1856 the historian Hubert Howe Bancroft (1832–1918) opened a bookstore and publishing house. Bancroft eventually employed a staff of researchers and ghostwriters who produced, among other works, a seven-volume History of California (1886–1890). Bancroft's enormous personal collection of western Americana eventually became the Bancroft Library at the University of California in Berkeley.

The same year that La Sonnambula played in San Francisco, four people were hanged, one whipped, and twenty-eight sentenced to be deported by a Committee of Vigilance, comprised of prominent citizens, including Sam Brannan, who were fed up with an ineffectual municipal government. The year 1853 marked the appearance of the notorious Lola Montez, famed for her dancing, love affairs, and outsize personality. Lola's protégé, "Lotta" Crabtree (1847–1924), would later become the highest paid actress in the country, and in 1875 she generously gave San Francisco an ornate fountain—still there—on Market Street.

The first Chinese men arrived in San Francisco in 1848. In 1855 the first African American journal, the Mirror of the Times, appeared, to be followed by the more militant Elevator in 1865. San Francisco in 1854 had a "polyglot population . . . with thirty-seven resident foreign consuls to serve them. There were twelve daily papers in several languages, more magazines than in London, and theaters in English, French, Spanish, German, and Chinese" (Ferlinghetti, p. ix).


Until the 1860s, San Francisco literature consisted primarily of travel books and memoirs, journals and newspapers. In 1854 two important works about the California experience were published. John Rollin Ridge (1827–1867), the son of a Cherokee chief who was stabbed to death by fellow tribesmen for urging acquiescence to U.S. removal policies, wrote The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta, the Celebrated California Bandit. Ridge, writing under his Indian name, Yellow Bird, transformed the possibly fictional folk character Joaquín Murieta, a gold-country bandit, into a Robin Hood, a hero dispensing justice to those who had violated his lover and humiliated his family, a Romantic avenger on behalf of the victims of the American onslaught.

And beginning in January 1854 the memoir of Louise Amelia Knapp Smith Clappe (1819–1906), who used the pen name Dame Shirley, appeared as the "Shirley Letters" in the Pioneer, a monthly literary journal. In twenty-three letters, ostensibly the private correspondence of Shirley to her sister back east, Clappe describes the diggings—the violence, the miners' homesickness, the beauty of the mountains—from the perspective of a supposedly timid and fastidious wife. Not published in book form until 1922, The Shirley Letters is now considered the best of gold rush writing.

The world craved writing about about goldfield adventurers. California, In-doors and Out (1856) is the feminist and social reformer Eliza W. Farnham's memoir of chaperoning a group of single educated women to the diggings. The Scottish artist John David Borthwick (1825–1870) wrote and illustrated Three Years in California (1857), which not only recounts his experiences mining gold and quartz but also provides detailed descriptions of mining techniques and of life in the camps. Three San Francisco journalists used newspaper reports to compile Annals of San Francisco, a history from the age of the explorers until the book's publication in 1855.


In 1858 the Overland Stage began its run between San Francisco and the East, just in time for the 1859 silver rush, the Comstock Lode, in Nevada. That year Richard Henry Dana Jr. returned by sea to visit the places he saw as a young man; the forlorn shed on the beach had exploded into a city of a hundred thousand. Late in 1862 direct telegraph service was established between San Francisco and New York.

In the 1860s California had the largest number of college graduates in the nation—some from the new University of San Francisco, founded in 1855—and a Normal School opened to train teachers. The city was now sufficiently mature to support a thriving literary community. The writers working and socializing together included Bret Harte (1836–1902) and Mark Twain (1835–1910), who credited Harte with teaching him how to write well; the witty and sarcastic social critic Ambrose Bierce (1842–1914?), who wrote for various San Francisco newspapers and literary magazines "with outrageous black humor . . . capable of ferreting out hypocrisy, fraudulence, and the tyranny that sleeps in the heart of ideologies" (Ferlinghetti, p. 64); Ina Coolbrith (1841–1928), who in 1915 became the first poet laureate of California; Charles Warren Stoddard (1843–1909), a poet and writer of travel books about Hawaii and Tahiti that lured Robert Louis Stevenson into visiting those islands; and Cincinnatus Hiner Miller (1837–1913), a poet of modest talent but great showmanship, who changed his name to Joaquin Miller, after the legendary Murieta, and conquered Europe by swaggering around in a western costume and behaving as Europeans imagined gold miners would. These writers' style was called "local color"—stories so rooted in a particular place that they could not occur elsewhere, rich in details, using the idiosyncrasies of regional speech.

By 1865 Bret Harte, who began as a typesetter and freelance writer for literary journals, had a sufficient reputation to be offered a job editing Outcroppings, the first anthology of California poetry. Whatever success or failure emigrants had achieved at the mines, many believed themselves talented poets, and Harte had to choose between mediocre and downright bad submissions. Outcroppings created an astonishing furor. Within a few hours of its publication by Anton Roman, hundreds of poets besieged Roman's bookstore to see if they were included in the book. Scathing reviews were widespread, making Harte nothing but enemies. Harte's next project was more successful: in 1868 Roman persuaded him to edit the new Overland Monthly, which Roman ambitiously hoped would rival the eastern literary magazine, the Atlantic Monthly. Harte asked Coolbrith and Stoddard to join him on the staff; they so enjoyed working together that they called themselves the Golden Gate Trinity.

There was still a large market for gold rush stories, but by the 1860s it was possible to sentimentalize what had been a rugged experience. Twain wrote "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" (1867), and Harte began what would be a long career spinning stories about a gold rush increasingly softened from the gritty reality. Since then, the world's image of the gold rush and the so-called Argonauts who braved hardships to seek California gold is Bret Harte's: the infant who redeems a community of roughnecks ("The Luck of Roaring Camp"), the plucky prostitute who retires to care for a paralyzed customer ("Miggles"), the loyalty (or is it?) of claim partners who can overlook even wife-stealing ("Tennessee's Partner"), and enough secretly noble gamblers and prostitutes ("The Outcasts of Poker Flat") to keep Harte's career going strong into the twentieth century.


In 1863 the newly formed Central Pacific Railroad began work on the western half of the transcontinental railroad. In the Overland Monthly in October 1868, the economist Henry George's (1839–1897) essay "What the Railroad Will Bring Us" warned that the new railroad was as likely to bring overpopulation and poverty as prosperity. The railroad certainly brought publications from the East which overshadowed the local production—and took away Twain in 1868 and Harte. Because of the fame Harte earned writing for the Overland, the Atlantic offered him an amazing ten thousand dollars a year to write a poem or story for each issue, and Harte moved east in 1870. After his writing no longer captivated easterners, he moved to Europe, living mostly in England, where his gold rush tales remained popular.

In 1868 a young man arrived in San Francisco, walked right through town, and lit out for the wilderness. John Muir (1838–1914) spent the summer of 1869 herding sheep in the Sierra Nevada, where he found an Eden he would spend the rest of his life defending. His first essays were published in the Overland Monthly. That year the city bought sand dunes in the western section of the city, which William Hammond Hall and John McLaren began to transform into Golden Gate Park. In 1873 Andrew Hallidie created the cable car. Sacramento may have been the seat of the state government, but the 149,473 San Franciscans supported their own popular emperor, the eccentric Joshua A. Norton (c. 1818–1880), a failed businessman who proclaimed himself Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. They even (or eventually) obeyed some of his commands, such as the one in 1872 to build a suspension bridge across the bay.

In 1870 the future philosopher Josiah Royce (1855–1916) was a teenager; he would eventually graduate from the new university across the bay and write the definitive history California from the Conquest in 1846 to the Second Vigilance Committee in San Francisco: A Study of American Character (1886). And in 1870 the novelist Frank Norris was born; he and such writers as George Sterling and Jack London would create a second wave of great writing set in San Francisco, no longer merely the gateway to the gold-fields, but the center of a financial, agricultural, and creative empire facing east and west.

See alsoCalifornia Gold Rush; "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County"; Chinese; Exploration and Discovery; The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta;Manifest Destiny; Mexican-American War; Two Years before the Mast


Primary Works

Bancroft, Hubert Howe. History of California. 1886–1890. Introduction by Edmund G. Brown. Santa Barbara: W. Hebberd, c. 1963–1970.

Borthwick, John David. Three Years in California. 1857. With foreword by Joseph A. Sullivan. Oakland, Calif.: Biobooks, 1948.

Byrant, Edwin. What I Saw in California. 1848. Introduction by Thomas D. Clark. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1985.

Clappe, Louise Amelia Knapp Smith. The Shirley Letters from the California Mines, 1851–1852. San Francisco: Thomas C. Russell, 1922. Reprint, edited with an introduction by Marlene Smith-Baranzini, Berkeley, Calif.: Heyday Books, 1998.

Dana, Richard Henry, Jr. Two Years before the Mast: APersonal Narrative of Life at Sea. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1840. Reprint, edited with an introduction by Thomas Philbrick, New York: Penguin, 1981.

Farnham, Eliza W. California In-Doors and Out. 1856. Introduction by Madeleine B. Stern. Nieuwkoop, Netherlands: De Graaf, 1972.

George, Henry. "What the Railroad Will Bring Us." Overland Monthly 1, no. 4 (October 1868). Available at

Harte, Bret. The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Sketches. Boston: Fields, Osgood, 1870. Reprint, The Luck of Roaring Camp and Other Tales, edited with an introduction by Gary Scharnhorst, New York: Penguin, 2001.

Hicks, Jack, et al., eds. The Literature of California: Writings from the Golden State. Vol. 1, Native American Beginnings to 1945. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.

Palóu, Francisco. Francisco Palou's Life and Apostolic Labors of the Venerable Father Junípero Serra, Founder of the Franciscan Missions of California. Introduction and notes by George Wharton James. English translation by C. Scott Williams. Pasadena, Calif.: G. W. James, 1913.

Palóu, Francisco. Historical Memoirs of New California. Translated into English from the manuscript in the archives of Mexico, edited by Herbert Eugene Bolton. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1926.

Robinson, Alfred. Life in California during a Residence ofSeveral Years in That Territory, including a Narrative of Events Which Have Transpired since That Period When California Was an Independent Government. With an introduction by Andrew Rolle. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Peregrine Publishers, 1970.

Royce, Josiah. California, from the Conquest in 1846 to theSecond Vigilance Committee in San Francisco, 1856: A Study of American Character. 1886. Introduction by Robert Glass Cleland. New York: Knopf, 1948.

Royce, Sarah. A Frontier Lady: Recollections of the Gold Rush and Early California. Edited by Ralph Henry Gabriel. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1932. Reprint, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1977.

Soulé, Frank, John H. Gihon, and James Nisbet. The Annals of San Francisco. With a new introduction by Herbert Ely Garcia. Berkeley: Berkeley Hills Books, 1998.

Taylor, Bayard. Eldorado: Adventures in the Path of Empire. Berkeley: Heyday Books, 2000.

Twain, Mark. The Jumping Frog and 18 Other Stories. Escondido, Calif.: Book Tree, 2000.

Secondary Works

Brands, H. W. The Age of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the New American Dream. New York: Doubleday, 2002.

Brechin, Gray. Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.

Ferlinghetti, Lawrence, and Nancy J. Peters. Literary SanFrancisco: A Pictorial History from Its Beginnings to the Present Day. San Francisco: City Lights Books and Harper and Row, 1980.

Holliday, J. S. The World Rushed In: The California Gold Rush Experience. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981.

Hart, James David. A Companion to California. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.

Limerick, Patricia Nelson. "Will the Real Californian Please Stand Up?" In her Something in the Soil: Legacies and Reckonings in the New West. New York: Norton, 2000.

Margolin, Malcolm. The Ohlone Way: Indian Life in the SanFrancisco–Monterey Bay Area. 25th anniversary ed. Berkeley: Heyday Books, 2003.

Pritzker, Barry M. A Native American Encyclopedia:History, Culture, and Peoples. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Rathmell, George. Realms of Gold: The Colorful Writers of San Francisco, 1850–1950. Berkeley: Creative Arts, 1998.

Starr, Kevin. Americans and the California Dream, 1850–1915. New York: Oxford University Press, 1973.

Harriet Rafter

San Francisco

views updated May 14 2018


In the wake of the 1848–1849 gold rush, San Francisco did not so much evolve as erupt as a frontier boomtown. And a decade later, in the 1860s, it emerged as a literary frontier when an impressive group of young writers began showing up in town and writing for a number of new lively local journals. Among the arriving writers were Bret Harte, Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens), Charles Warren Stoddard, Ina Coolbrith, Cincinnatus H. "Joaquin" Miller, and Ambrose Bierce. As outsiders—some just passing through—they wrote about a city of outsiders, largely for an audience of outsiders. In exaggerated glimpses of a wayward city on the far edge of the continent, they confirmed for eastern readers their preconceptions of the new city as raw, unruly "other"—as everything the East was not. In its 1860s literary construction, San Francisco was an out-post of wealth and wildness, sophistication and lawlessness, a motley gathering of drifters, outcasts, gamblers, and speculators. Nineteenth-century western literature, implicitly at least, was always about the interplay between East and West, civilization and lawlessness, and early San Francisco provided the ground for this kind of cultural exchange.


By the 1870s most of the literary pioneers were gone. Bret Harte (1836–1902) and Mark Twain (1835–1910) were not to return, though each would continue to write about San Francisco and the West in the years ahead, Twain revisiting his western years in Roughing It (1872) and Harte doggedly plodding on for thirty post-California years with his sentimental tales about "redshirt" Sierra miners. Among those who stayed in the city or returned after a time away were Coolbrith, Bierce, and Miller. Ina Coolbrith (1841–1928), who assisted Harte in launching the ambitious new Overland Monthly in 1868, worked as a librarian at Oakland's Free Library; published a collection of her poetry, Songs of the Golden Gate (1895); and presided over literary salons, encouraging such diverse figures as Miller, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the dancer Isadora Duncan, and the young Jack London. She was named the state's first poet laureate in 1915. With Coolbrith's encouragement, the histrionic Joaquin Miller (1837–1913) took his act to the London stage, performing, in buckskins and a ten-gallon hat, the role of "western bard," the "real McCoy" from the American West. On his return he built a monumental estate, the Hights, in the Oakland Hills. The dark, cynical Ambrose Bierce (1842–1914?), after several years abroad, returned to issue scathing attacks for a new journal—the Wasp—and for William Randolph Hearst's Examiner, his chief targets being Dennis Kearney and his racist Workingmen's Party and the graft of the Big Four railroad monopolists (Collis Huntington, Leland Stanford, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker). Then in 1914, at age seventy-one, he disappeared in Mexico, presumably trying to join up with Pancho Villa.

As the nineteenth century drew to a close, San Francisco emerged as a cosmopolitan, multiethnic enclave, stretching across the peninsula from bay to ocean. The transcontinental railroad arrived in 1869 (and a young Henry George was writing in the Overland Monthly about the economic hardships the rail lines would bring), and four years later the first cable car was introduced on Clay Street. Golden Gate Park, on the western edge of the city, was opened in 1870. In the westward expansion, distinct class and ethnic neighborhoods emerged: the older settlers and the wealthy concentrated in the hills, the newer immigrants and the poor in the flatlands, and the middle class increasingly in the newer western neighborhoods. While 60 percent of the population was of immigrant stock in 1880—largely first- and second-generation Irish, Germans, and Italians—a shift in the national origin of immigrants occurred in the closing years of the century. The majority of newcomers were no longer of northern and western European stock but of southern and eastern European heritage—southern Italians and Sicilians, Poles, Slavs, Hungarians, and Russian Jews. The shift, which was occurring then in all large American cities, engendered a fierce nativist response in the East, but because San Francisco was largely a second area of American settlement for Europeans (who often came with a knowledge of English) and because the city was too new to develop rigid social structures and barriers, there was less overt opposition to their arrival than in eastern cities.

The great exception to the relatively tolerant San Francisco was the prejudice directed at the Chinese, who began arriving by boatloads in the 1850s. The city welcomed them at first as a source of cheap labor, but in the hard times of the 1870s, businesses that hired only white labor turned to the Chinese, who were compelled to work for less pay—for "coolie wages." Kearney's Workingmen's Party spearheaded a drive to deport the Chinese and stop their continuing arrival, presenting them not only as a threat to Irish labor but as a dangerous, alien race, a menace to the city's health and safety. Anti-Chinese hysteria peaked in a Chinatown riot in 1877, followed in 1882 by the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act—America's first significant anti-immigration law. In 1910 a detention center on Angel Island was set up, essentially for the still-arriving Chinese. Poems of despair the Chinese detainees carved on the walls of their cells have become part of the American social and literary record. At the same time the incarcerated Chinese wrote their bitter poems, they wrote letters home to family members of the success, wealth, and respect they were achieving as "Celestials" on "Gold Mountain" (California). The contrast between the fanciful letters sent home and the despairing poems inscribed on cell walls offers, as contrast between dream and reality, one of the most poignant spectacles in American history.

The first notable writer of Chinese descent to publish fiction about the Chinese on the West Coast was Edith Maude Eaton (1865–1914), the daughter of an English father and Chinese mother, who, under the name Sui Sin Far, wrote stories and children's tales about the Chinese ordeal and the dilemmas of mixed Anglo-Chinese parentage. Set mostly in San Francisco's and Los Angeles's Chinatowns, her stories were collected as Mrs. Spring Fragrance in 1912 (out of print until its expanded reissue in 1995). Perhaps, though, the most famous, or infamous, work about the Chinese to come out of early San Francisco was Bret Harte's 1870 poem, "Plain Language from Truthful James" (also known as "The Heathen Chinee"), about two gamblers cheating at euchre, one Chinese, the other a Yankee. The cheating William Nye, discovering his opponent is also hiding cards, cries out, irrelevantly, "We are ruined by Chinese cheap labour" (p. 132). Although Nye castigates Ah Sin in familiar anti-Chinese language, Harte's poem seems more clearly an indictment of racism than an expression of it, an ironic statement consistent not only with the irony that pervades Harte's writing but also with his earlier defense of the Chinese in the dispatches he sent to eastern journals.


The conclusion of the Spanish-American War in the opening years of the twentieth century persuaded San Francisco that it would be the center of a new Pacificfacing nation. Anticipating its new role, the city embarked on a major renaissance in city planning, a "City Beautiful" project on classical and European models, sparked by the reform mayor James Phelan and engineered by the architect and city planner Daniel Hudson Burnham. San Francisco would be another "White City," like the Chicago constructed for its 1893 exposition and echoed on a smaller scale in San Francisco's 1894 Midwinter International Exposition in Golden Gate Park. The city would, moreover, demonstrate its hegemony over its new rival four hundred miles to the south, Los Angeles, which was then attracting hundreds of thousands of migrants. The earthquake disrupted the plans. On 18 April 1906 the city was rocked by a series of major jolts. Brick buildings south of Market Street, the financial district, and much of downtown collapsed. The worst was yet to come in the fires that followed. Before the flames were stopped on Van Ness Street, half the residential portions of the city were destroyed. The city recovered quickly, though. Most of the downtown area was rebuilt in the next four years, and the city celebrated its recovery in the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

When the quake struck, the San Francisco–born writer Jack London (1876–1916), not yet thirty and with his best-known books behind him, had bought a ranch in Glen Ellen in Sonoma County (fifty miles north of the city) and was building his ketch, the Snark, in preparation for a round-the-world cruise. The quake held up construction and delayed the start. Then a skin infection he contracted caused the journey to be aborted in Australia, and in 1909 he was back in Glen Ellen, where he began work on two of his last novels, Burning Daylight (1910) and Valley of the Moon (1913), journey novels that retrace London's own discovery of Glen Ellen (the Valley of the Moon), setting the bucolic landscape against the brutal, life-destroying experiences in the Bay Area cities—San Francisco and Oakland. In Burning Daylight, Elam Harnish, one of London's Yukon warriors, having made a fortune in Klondike gold, returns to a San Francisco that, a generation after its own gold fever, has become a frontier of mad financial speculation, a Darwinian battleground for economic supremacy. As a naive newcomer to the city, he is swindled out of a big chunk of money, and in a showdown that might have come right out of a conventional western—that in fact reads like a parody of Bret Harte or even Owen Wister—he faces down the swindlers, a Colt .44 in his hand. From this point his Nietzschean will to power takes over. As urban capitalist, he wheels and deals his way to control vast holdings across the bay in Oakland—oil lines, ferries, and whole neighborhoods. The price he pays, though, for his ruthless individualism is nervous exhaustion and physical deterioration, and as London envisioned his own recuperation in his second marriage and settlement on the land, Harnish falls in love and finds a new destiny in Sonoma Valley, a land of rolling hills, manzanitas, madrones, and redwoods. It is a rebirth for the hero after his emotional death in San Francisco.

The Valley of the Moon is similarly a return-to-the-land novel, Sonoma Valley rescuing Billy and Saxon Roberts from their struggle to survive in the urban jungle. The first part of the novel is a long, harrowing account of their life on the Oakland waterfront—the same land that Elam Harnish developed into an industrial zone—an urban pit of violent labor warfare, police brutality, drunkenness, prostitution, and near starvation. It is the site of the failed promise of the California City—and by extension, the American City; the urban passages might well have come from books like Stephen Crane's Maggie, A Girl of the Streets (1893), Jacob Riis's How the Other Half Lives (1890), or Upton Sinclair's The Jungle (1906).

London was a socialist, but he also believed in Anglo-Saxon racial superiority; the return to the land is construed as the destiny of the Anglo-Saxon in America. Billy and Saxon (their names a not-too-subtle reminder of their heritage) are rendered as the dispossessed descendants of their pioneer forebears, who crossed a continent to claim the West only to lose it to foreigners—industrious European and Asian farmers. In journeying out of the city to reclaim the land, the novel implies, the couple is reclaiming what rightfully, historically, belongs to them.

With the emergence of writers born in, or raised in, San Francisco—like London, Gertrude Atherton, and Frank Norris—the city could no longer be appropriated simply as exotic frontier or local color venue; the boomtown had become a metropolis with a population that exceeded 300,000 at century's end and then doubled to over 600,000 by 1920. Significantly, the writers in this second wave of San Francisco writing employed not only tougher brands of urban realism but also a deeper consciousness of the past, of the city's local and regional sources. For the visiting journalists of the 1860s, writing more for eastern audiences than for locals, the dialectic is geographical (East-West); in the fiction by homegrown writers in the next generation the dialectic is temporal. The present is prefigured, contained, in the past.

Gertrude Atherton (1857–1948), the first significant San Francisco–born novelist, was concerned throughout her long career (from the 1880s to the 1940s) with the historic reconstruction of San Francisco and its surroundings (including the city of Atherton, south of San Francisco, named after her husband's family) from the pre-Yankee era to the multiethnic present. In her story collection The Splendid, Idle Forties (1902), she created a romantic, Arcadian myth of ranchos, missions, and haciendas before the American conquest. Thirteen of her novels, including (among her better-known works) The Californians (1898) and Ancestors (1907), belong to what she called her "story chronicle" of San Francisco, tracing the evolution of the city through the eyes of genteel, sympathetic young women trying to find useful places for themselves in a city undergoing tumultuous growth and expansion.

Chicago-born Frank Norris (1870–1902), who arrived in San Francisco at age fourteen in 1884, served his literary apprenticeship in the 1890s writing for two new journals, the Lark and the Wave. Fascinated by the city's ethnic and racial mix living in proximity on the peninsula, he wrote in the Wave of such local oddities as a red-haired child who was half Jewish and half Chinese and a man working in a Portuguese wine shop whose father was Negro and his mother Chinese. In his major San Francisco novel, McTeague (1899), the denizens of working-class Polk Street, where "Mac" has his dental parlors, constitute an ethnic stew of Anglos, Swiss German, Polish Jews, and Mexicans. But Norris was no latter-day Bret Harte, who considered himself a "foreign correspondent" in the city, observing its quaint, polyglot life; Norris's concern in the novel is less with the city's ethnic makeup than with the hereditary disposition of his protagonist and the irresistible pull of history.

A year spent at the university in Berkeley put Norris under the influence of the evolutionary scientist Joseph Le Conte, who stressed the shaping force of heredity and the precarious mid-position human beings occupied between civilization and savagery. Le Conte and Émile Zola (whom Norris was reading then) became the principal sources both for McTeague and for another San Francisco novel, Vandover and the Brute (completed in the mid-1890s but not published until 1914, a dozen years after his death). Both trace the devolution of their title characters, who, unable to repress their primitive, instinctual sides, degenerate to a state of atavism.

Mac has been born and raised in the Sierra mining country, and after his time as a Polk Street dentist comes to an end through the betrayal of a jealous friend, followed by a string of events that culminate in the murder of his wife, he returns to the territory of his childhood, one step ahead of his pursuers. His animalistic side, no longer held in check by the middle-class trappings of his city life, takes over. He becomes what his heredity has dictated, sliding into the gravitational field of his primitive past. His flight takes him instinctively (by a kind of animalistic sixth sense) to the Placer mining country of his youth and then, in further flight from the present, to that most primordial landscape, Death Valley, where he finds his own death, handcuffed to his dead pursuer on the sun-scorched desert floor. Out in the endless California desert, a landscape as old as the earth, Norris offers one of the most freakish and claustrophobic scenes in literature. McTeague is chained to his hereditary past.

If the West, in the national mythology, represents desire, promise, and the future, it also represents, for the major San Francisco novelists in the period considered here, the impossibility of escaping history. We carry our histories with us to the West. Memory and desire, past and future, coexist. The past may be a world elsewhere—across an ocean, as it was for the Chinese immigrants—or it may be discovered or recovered on the regional landscape, as it was for London, Atherton, and Norris. The city positioned at the end of the land is the city that engenders such returns to history.

Two years before publishing McTeague, his novel of degeneracy in San Francisco, Frank Norris offered a more upbeat appraisal of literary opportunities in a new city geographically isolated from the rest of America.

Perhaps no great city in the world is as isolated as we are. . . . There is no great city to the north of us, to the south none nearer than Mexico, to the west the waste of the Pacific, to the east the waste of the deserts. Here we are set down as a pin point in a vast circle of solitude. Isolation produces individuality, originality. . . . and we have time to develop unhampered types and characters and habits unbiased by outside influences, types that are admirably suited to fictitious treatment.

Frank Norris, "An Opening for Novelists: Great Opportunities for Fiction-Writers in San Francisco," Wave 16 (22 May 1897): 7.

See alsoChinese; Disasters; Immigration; McTeague; Mrs. Spring Fragrance; Overland Monthly; "Plain Language from Truthful James"


Primary Works

Harte, Francis Bret. "Plain Language from Truthful James." 1870. In The Complete Works of Bret Harte, vol.1, pp. 131–133. London: Chatto and Windus, 1880.

Hicks, Jack, James D. Houston, Maxine Hong Kingston, and Al Young, eds. The Literature of California: Writing from the Golden State. Vol. 1, Native American Beginnings to 1945. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. Contains samplings of such San Francisco writers as Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Charles Warren Stoddard, Ina Coolbrith, Joaquin Miller, Ambrose Bierce, Edith Maude Eaton (Sui Sin Far), Gertrude Atherton, Jack London, Frank Norris, and an anonymous Chinese immigrant poet.

London, Jack. Burning Daylight. 1910. Oakland, Calif.: Star Rover, 1987.

London, Jack. The Valley of the Moon. 1913. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Peregrine Smith, 1975.

Norris, Frank. McTeague. 1899. In Novels and Essays, edited by Donald Pizer. New York: Library of America, 1986.

Secondary Works

Fine, David, and Paul Skenazy, eds. San Francisco in Fiction: Essays in a Regional Literature. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995. Contains an introduction to San Francisco writing and includes essays on Harte, Twain, Norris, London, Atherton, and Chinese literature.

Lyon, Thomas, et al., eds. A Literary History of the American West. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1987. Contains essays on Harte, Twain, Norris, and London.

Scharnhorst, Gary. "Bret Harte and the Literary Construction of the American West." In A Companion to the Regional Literatures of America, edited by Charles L. Crow. New York: Blackwell, 2003.

Starr, Kevin. Americans and the California Dream, 1850–1915. New York: Oxford University Press, 1973.

Walker, Franklin. San Francisco's Literary Frontier. New York: Knopf, 1939.

Wollenberg, Charles. Golden Gate Metropolis: Perspectives on Bay Area History. Berkeley: Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, 1985.

Wyatt, David. The Fall into Eden: Landscape and Imagination in California. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1986.

David Fine

San Francisco: Recreation

views updated May 11 2018

San Francisco: Recreation


San Francisco contains so many interesting attractions in such a small area that visitors find something unique on almost any street. Most points of interest are within walking distance or a short ride away. The ride itself can be an attraction when taken on one of the city's famous cable cars, the nation's only moving historical landmarks, now restored and servicing a 10-mile route in the heart of the city.

Historic and scenic beauty is evident all over the city. The original mission and the Presidio, both built in 1776 out of simple adobe brick, can still be toured. Jackson Square, the former Barbary Coast, and Portsmouth Square, the original center of the early town, are both in renovated areas that highlight different periods of the city's history. Many of the residential sections that surround the downtown district were spared destruction in the earthquake and fire of 1906, and they offer examples of Victorian architecture. Displayed in hillside vistas, the colorful houses give the city a Mediterranean look. The downtown area also contains a number of striking modern structures like the pyramidal Transamerica Building, and the impressive Civic Center complex, including the domed City Hall.

Perhaps the most unique features of San Francisco are its clusters of distinct ethnic neighborhoods. The most famous is Chinatown, the largest Chinese district outside of Asia, a 24-block area of authentic bazaars, temples, restaurants, and distinctive Oriental architecture. Recent additions to the area include a two-level gateway to the district, ornately carved by Taiwanese craftsmen, and the Chinese Cultural Center. Next to Chinatown is the North Beach area, once home to the "beatnik" culture. Filled with Italian influencescafes, gelato parlors, delicatessens, cappuccino houses, and restaurantsthe area also contains a number of jazz clubs, art galleries, and theaters. The Mission District, a business and residential area of colorful Victorian buildings, is home to a predominantly Spanish-speaking population and the original Levi Strauss clothing factory, still in operation. A five-tiered pagoda welcomes visitors to Nihonmachi, a section of sushi bars, theaters, shops, restaurants, and hotels that reflect the Japanese culture.

Golden Gate Park, just west of the downtown area, is more than 1,000 acres of landscaped greenery that was once a barren area of windswept sand dunes. The park was created in 1846 and houses flowered meadows, an arboretum and botanical garden containing more than 6,000 plant species, and a 5-acre Japanese tea garden. Also located in the park are the Conservatory of Flowers, a children's playground with an antique carousel, and a small herd of bison, a tradition since 1890.

The city's waterfront offers a variety of entertainments. Several islands in the bay provide scenic picnic areas. Alcatraz Island, home of "The Rock," the former escape-proof federal prison, is now open for tours; advance reservations are suggested. Ocean Beach, on the Pacific side of the peninsula, provides a view of Seal Rocks, a small island occupied by a colony of sea lions. At the northern end of Ocean Beach is the San Francisco Zoo, one of the top ten in the nation. More than 1,000 animals inhabit the exhibits, including snow leopards, a rare white tiger, and a colony of koala bears. The zoo also features the computer-designed Primate Discovery Center, Gorilla World, the world's largest natural gorilla habitat, and a children's zoo.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area, one of the largest urban parks in the world and host to more than 16 million visitors each year, is located on both sides of the Golden Gate, the entrance to San Francisco Bay. Its 75,398 acres contain stunning cliff-top views of the bay and the ocean, a network of hiking trails, valleys, and beaches, and the Fort Point National Historic Site, a brick fort built in 1861. The Golden Gate Bridge, with its pedestrian walkway, connects the two sides of the park.

Arts and Culture

San Francisco enjoys a cultural scene as varied as its population. Theater, music, and dance can be found in a multitude of outlets. The heart of the city's cultural life is located in the area around the Civic Center Plaza, where the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center blends in with the neighboring civic buildings. The Center includes the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall, home of the San Francisco Symphony, a world-class orchestra that is one of the oldest in the United States. The newly renovated War Memorial Opera House is home to the internationally acclaimed San Francisco Opera and the equally renowned San Francisco Ballet.

Visitors and residents enjoy Broadway shows, improvisational comedy, musical revues, and dramatic theater throughout the city. Situated on San Francisco's Union Square is TIX Bay Area, a half-price ticket booth that has day-of tickets to performances at many of the large and smaller houses. Within walking distance are American Conservatory Theater, Cable Car Theater, Curran Theater, Mason Street Theater, and Theater on the Square.

Museums in San Francisco are varied and plentiful. Located on the waterfront is the National Maritime Museum, a collection of ship models, relics, photographs, and paintings, as well as several restored vessels docked at the adjacent pier. The American Carousel Museum features a collection of hand-carved antique carousel figures. Other area museums include the San Francisco African American Historical and Cultural Society, the Museum of the California Historical Society, and the Wells Fargo History Museum.

The California Academy of Sciences, formerly in Golden Gate Park, is now in a new location downtown and consists of an aquarium, a planetarium, and a natural history museum. The Steinhart Aquarium houses more than 14,000 aquatic specimens including penguins, dolphins, seals, crocodiles, and rare Australian lungfish. The Morrison Planetarium will reopen with modern features in a brand new facility. The Natural History Museum houses many exhibits of natural science including the Earth and Space Hall with its simulated earthquake and the Gem and Mineral Hall.

The park also contains two art museums. The M. H. de Young Museum houses a diverse collection, including galleries tracing the history of art, as well as displays of American art, pre-Columbian gold work, and works by masters such as El Greco and Rembrandt. In October 2005, the museum will reopen in its brand new home, a state-of-the-art, 293,000 square foot facility. The nearby Asian Art Museum houses the Avery Brundage Collection, which contains more than 500 examples of Chinese art in addition to art of the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, and Southeast Asia.

At the heart of San Francisco's Yerba Buena Gardens, situated south of Market Street near the Financial District, is a bustling center for arts and culture that includes the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which is the first museum on the West Coast devoted solely to twentieth-century art. The Jewish Museum and Mexican Museum are two of the many organizations in the process of building their new facilities nearby. Other area art museums include the San Francisco Crafts and Folk Art Museum, the Chinese Culture Center Museum, the Galeria de la Raza, the Mexican Museum of San Francisco, the Ansel Adams Center for Photography, Cartoon Art Museum, and the Museo Italo Americano.

Festivals and Holidays

San Francisco is known for its celebratory spirit, which is reflected in the calendar of festivals and special events. One of the biggest celebrations occurs in February with the week-long Chinese New Year festival, an exotic blend of parades, outdoor festivals, and other cultural programs in America's largest Chinese community. March brings the seven-day St. Patrick's Day Celebration. The attention shifts to the Japanese district for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in April, consisting of cultural programs, exhibitions, and a parade of dancers and costumed performers.

For almost a century, thousands of runners have flocked to San Francisco in May for the annual Bay to Breakers, which is part fundraiser for a variety of charities and part celebration of the city's diversity. June brings the two-day San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Parade, the world's largest gay pride event. The San Francisco Waterfront Festival is an Independence Day party that unfailingly delivers brilliant fireworks over the Bay. Also in July is the North Beach Jazz Festival, which underscores the rich history of the San Francisco jazz scene. This 5-day celebration of the Soul of San Francisco begins on Wednesday when more than 40 bars and clubs along Grant Street host local and national jazz talent. In September, people can sample the sinful fruits of chocolatiers at the Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival. The Holiday Festival of Lights in December takes place at Fisherman's Wharf and launches the Bay Area holiday season in style.

Sports for the Spectator

The Bay Area is home to two Major League Baseball franchises, the American League Oakland A's and the National League San Francisco Giants, as well as to the National Basketball Association's Golden State Warriors, the National Hockey League's San Jose Sharks, and the pro-soccer league's San Jose Clash. The National Football Leagues' San Francisco 49ers was the first professional sports franchise on the West Coast, and have made several trips to the Super Bowl. During the past 16 seasons, San Francisco's football team has won more than 70 percent of its games and posted an NFL record of 13 straight seasons with 10 or more victories. Thoroughbred racing can be enjoyed at Golden Gate Fields or Bay Meadows, two of America's premier horse racing facilities. The Laguna Seca Raceway and the Infineon Raceway provide a variety of motor sports nearby. The city annually sponsors one of the largest marathons in the country, the San Francisco Marathon, as well as several other running events throughout the year. Area colleges and universities also field teams in most sports and maintain extensive spectator facilities.

Sports for the Participant

San Francisco offers a wide array of choices for those who are sports minded. Aquatic sports are especially popular because of the city's proximity to water. Yachting, boating, swimming, water skiing, boardsailing, surfing, fishing, and hang gliding from cliffs are among the favorite activities. The 75,398-acre Golden Gate Recreation Area is filled with hiking and bicycling trails, campgrounds, and wildlife preserves. The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department administers and maintains more than 200 parks, playgrounds, and open spaces throughout the city, including two outside the city limits: Sharp Park in Pacifica and Camp Mather in the High Sierras. The system also includes 15 large, full-complex recreation centers; 9 swimming pools; 5 golf courses; and hundreds of tennis courts, ball diamonds, athletic fields, and basketball courts. The department is also responsible for the Marina Yacht Harbor, Candlestick Park, the San Francisco Zoo, and the Lake Merced Complex, which is operated for recreational purposes under the San Francisco Water Department.

Shopping and Dining

San Francisco offers some of the best shopping in the world, so it is no wonder that tourists and serious shopaholics alike want to spend some time and money in San Francisco's varied shopping centers, districts and malls. Union Square, Hayes Valley, upper Fillmore, the Mission, Sacramento Street, Chinatown and downtown's San Francisco Shopping Center offer a unique style with one-of-a-kind shops; each mall and neighborhood offers a distinctive feel suited to any shopper's mood. Other major shopping districts include Ghirardelli Square, which is a group of stores built around the Ghirardelli chocolate factory, and the Cannery, a lavishly remodeled former produce processing plant. Other popular shopping destinations are the Anchorage at Fisher-man's Wharf, and downtown's Embarcadero Center. In addition, each ethnic neighborhood supports its own distinctive section of shops, open-air markets, and restaurants. San Francisco is famous for its vast and varied assortment of bookstores.

San Francisco has been called "the weight watcher's Waterloo" because of its tempting restaurants, many holding international reputations. Nearly 4,000 restaurants in the city are geographically concentrated at the rate of about 95 per square mile. Dining styles and venues include supper clubs, American grills, California-Asian hybrids, haute vegetarian, modest bistros, and fine-dining destinations.

Seafood fresh off the boat can be obtained at restaurants along Fisherman's Wharf; farmland, vineyards, and cattle ranches in the surrounding area provide an abundance of other fresh ingredients. Sourdough bread is a San Francisco specialty. Many international restaurants, serving dishes from around the world and prepared with exact authenticity, are scattered throughout the city's numerous ethnic neighborhoods.

Visitor Information: San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau, Convention Plaza, 201 Third Street, Suite 900, San Francisco, CA 94103; telephone (415)391-2000; fax (415)362-7323.

San Francisco: Economy

views updated May 29 2018

San Francisco: Economy

Major Industries and Commercial Activity

Since the days of the Gold Rush, San Francisco has been an important financial center. Located halfway between London and Tokyo as well as between Seattle and San Diego, San Francisco is at the center of global business. Because of its natural, landlocked harbor, San Francisco has thrived on trade and shipping since its early days. Today, through its main port in Oakland, eight smaller ports, and three key airports, the Bay area handles nearly 30 percent of West Coast trade. The port system is augmented by San Francisco International Airport, the country's ninth largest and the world's fourteenth largest airport.

San Francisco's economic activity attracts and supports a range of industries. As the base for some of the country's largest banks, the Pacific Exchange, and over 30 international financial institutions, San Francisco is a center for world commerce. Most recently San Francisco is considered the birthplace of new media; its South Park neighborhood houses some of the most innovative new technology companies in the world. San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood is a model for collaborative innovation between the biotechnology industry and academic researchers.

World War II started a local boom in defense industries, resulting in subsequent high-technology development that hasn't ceased. Nearby Silicon Valley, along with Stanford University, are considered to be among the places where the worldwide technology boom began, and they remain on the leading edge today. More than 2,800 Bay Area companies produce computers, semiconductors and related components, scientific instruments, and various other electronic systems and equipment. Aerospace industries such as the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) and Lockheed also maintain major research facilities in the area.

Another important high-technology industry in the area is medical science; several hundred companies in the Bay Area are setting the pace in research and development of pharmaceutical products, medical electronics, and genetic engineering. Almost one third of the total worldwide biotechnology workforce is employed in San Francisco and the surrounding region. Other prominent industries are tourism, which generates $6.73 billion in tourist spending each year and is the largest industry in the region; fashion apparel, with the Bay Area home to the world's largest apparel maker, Levi Strauss & Co.; health care; education; and restaurants.

Items and goods produced: paper boxes, confectionery, paints, chemicals, glass, leather, lumber, textiles, steel, clothing, bags, furniture, auto parts, electric machinery, matches, clay, rubber products, tools, beverages

Incentive ProgramsNew and Existing Companies

Local programs

Businesses that create new permanent jobs in San Francisco receive a two-year credit against their city payroll tax liability for the new employees as part of the New Jobs Tax Credit. San Francisco's enterprise zone offers a variety of city and state economic benefits for businesses that locate within it. With the Mayor's Office of Community Development Loan Fund, companies that create jobs in the city and meet certain federal criteria are eligible for loans ranging from $1,000 to $250,000. San Francisco is a state-designated Recycling Market Development Zone, enabling businesses involved in recycling to utilize low-interest loans, technical assistance, siting and permitting assistance, and reduced permit application fees. SFWorks is a program that assists employers in hiring low-income individuals who are transitioning to work or trying to advance their careers. Many businesses that participate may qualify for a number federal and state hiring tax credits, ranging from $2,400 to $8,500.

State programs

Companies that purchase manufacturing or R&D equipment for use anywhere in California are allowed a tax credit equal to 6 percent of the costs paid or incurred for acquiring the property as part of the Manufacturers' Investment Credit program. The California research and development tax credit allows companies to receive a credit of 8 percent for qualified research expenses (research done in-house), and 12 percent for basic research payments (payments made in cash to an outside company).

Job training programs

The San Francisco Private Industry Council (PIC), the organization responsible for administering the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) programs, funds offers significant benefits to employers who hire PIC trainees. Under the on-the-job training program, the PIC will reimburse employers 50 percent of wages paid to participants for as long as the first 6 months of employment. The California Employment Training Panel (ETP) assists businesses in training employees through a cost reimbursement program. The California State Enterprise Zone (EZ) Hiring Tax Credit is a state income tax credit for employers who hire job seekers from targeted groups. Employers can claim up to $31,605 in tax credits over a five-year period when they hire qualified employees.

Development Projects

Pacific Bell Park, the new home of the San Francisco Giants, was completed in April 2000. The $306 million project took more than 2,000 construction workers and more than 650,000 bricks to build the 42,000-seat stadium. San Francisco's premier convention facility, Moscone Center, added an additional 300,000 square feet of function space in 2003. With the completion of Moscone West, which opened in 2003, today's Moscone Center is a collection of facilities covering more than 20 acres on three adjacent blocks. It anchors the 87-acre Yerba Buena Center redevelopment district in a neighborhood of hotels, theaters, restaurants, museums, galleries, housing, parks, and urban recreation centers. The new Sony Metreon retail and entertainment complex and Children's Center are also located in the Yerba Buena Center. The Children's Center includes facilities for childcare, ice skating, and bowling, as well as an arts and technology center.

San Francisco continues to invest in improvements that fuel its world-class reputation. Located midway between London and Tokyo, America's closest major city to the Pacific Rim, it sits at the center of the global community. A multiyear, $2.4 billion program to bring San Francisco International Airport into the 21st century was nearly completed in 2005, and includes new parking garages, a consolidated rental car center, and other amenities. In 2003, a $1.5 billion new Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station began connecting trains to the heart of San Francisco and the East Bay; an intra-airport rail system links airport terminals and facilities together. Revitalization of San Francisco's scenic waterfront, which runs 7.5 miles along its northern and southern perimeters, is an ongoing project to reconnect the city to this historic area and enliven the area for both residents and visitors; the project will include the addition of an expanded ferry terminal and new office space.

Economic Development Information: The San Francisco Partnership, 465 California Street, 9th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94104; telephone (415)352-8801; fax (415)956-3844; email [email protected]

Commercial Shipping

San Francisco International Airport is served by all of the major air freight companies; some 600,000 tons of cargo are handled each year. The port of San Francisco has terminals offering six berths, on-dock rail, acres of paved land for staging cargo, more than 550,000 square feet of covered storage for weather-sensitive cargo, cranes capable of working both breakbulk and containers, and 624 reefer outlets. Once a major West Coast cargo port that lost much of its business to Oakland, a resurgence has happened in recent years and strategic plans are underway to continue the volume increase of cargo shipping.

Labor Force and Employment Outlook

San Francisco has the highest concentration of new immigrants in the nation, providing a continuous supply of workers at all levels of expertise. The city also boasts some of the most well-trained professionals in the United States, with nearly 70 percent of San Franciscans having educational training beyond high school. Approximately 30 percent have a bachelor's degree, nearly twice the state level, and more than 16 percent of residents hold a graduate or professional degree, compared to 9.5 percent for the state.

The city's workforce is a magnet for business and employment. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, San Francisco's diverse and educated population results in one of the most productive workforces in the country and the world. Growth is expected to continue in the areas where San Francisco is already strong: high-technology industries, medical science and health-related fields, and finance. As the sixth largest metropolitan market in the United States, San Francisco offers future opportunities in areas such as retail trade, service industries, and restaurants.

Small businesses thrive in San Francisco; according to the city there are a multitude of small and medium sized businesses in the city, and 95 percent of all of the city's businesses employ 50 workers or less.

The following is a summary of data regarding the San Francisco metropolitan area labor force, 2004 annual averages.

Size of nonagricultural labor force: 938,400

Number of workers employed in . . .

natural resources and mining: 200

construction: 43,200

manufacturing: 44,700

trade, transportation, and utilities: 164,700

information: 43,900

finance: 88,200

professional and business services: 175,000

education and health services: 99,900

leisure and hospitality: 113,500

government: 128,000

Average hourly earnings of production workers employed in manufacturing: $19.93

Unemployment rate: 3.6% (December 2004)

Largest private companies (based on revenue)Number of employees
New United Motor4,800
Bechtel Group Inc.2,150
Levi Strauss & Co.1,900
FirstAmerica Automotive Inc.1,300
Lucas Film Limited1,300
DHL Worldwide Express1,023
USS-POSCO Industries979

Cost of Living

San Francisco's cost of living is one of the highest in the country, due in part to the tight labor market and the high cost of housing, food, and other consumer goods. It is reported that Bay Area residents possess the third-highest discretionary income in the United States. This is because of the high percentage of an educated workforce and the concentration of jobs in high-paying industries. Its housing market has experienced record-breaking appreciation, with the median home price increasing by nearly 96 percent since the early 1990s. Although the residential property tax is low, because property values are high, the absolute payment is relatively high.

The following is a summary of data regarding several key cost of living factors for the San Francisco area.

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Average House Price: $846,000

2004 (3rd Quarter) ACCRA Cost of Living Index: 182.4 (U.S. average = 100.0)

State income tax rate: Ranges from 1.0% to 9.3%

State sales tax rate: 6% (public utilities and prescription drugs are exempt)

Local income tax rate: None

Local sales tax rate: 1.25%

Property tax rate: Real-estate (secured property) taxes are set for the 20032004 roll year at $1,117 per $100 of full value as determined by the last assessment or as reassessed at the time of sale.

Economic Information: San Francisco Partnership, 465 California Street, 9th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94104; telephone (415)352-8801; fax (415)956-3844; email [email protected]

San Francisco: History

views updated May 11 2018

San Francisco: History

Spanish Discover City; Franciscan Friars Build Missions

Because thick fog banks usually obscure the narrow entrance to the bay, the area where San Francisco now stands and the adjacent natural harbor remained undiscovered by seafaring adventurers for more than two hundred years after the original Spanish explorers found California. It was left to an overland expedition of Spanish soldiers from Mexico to stumble upon the bay by accident in 1769 while trying to reach Monterey. In 1776 Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza founded the first European settlement in the Bay Area by establishing a military garrison, or Presidio, on the southern shore of the Golden Gate. That same year the Franciscan Order built Mission Dolores, the sixth Roman Catholic mission in what eventually became a chain of twenty-one missions along the coast of California.

Until the 1830s almost all of the inhabitants were missionaries, tryingwithout much successto convert the local Costanoan tribe to Christianity; but eventually a small village was built up around the Presidio and the mission. The village, called Yerba Buena, was mapped out in 1839 by Jean Jaques Vioget, a Swiss surveyor, but it continued to be small and remote throughout most of the 1840s. The quiet town of a few hundred inhabitants was visited infrequently by whaling ships, traders from the East Coast, and frontier hunters and trappers. Farming and a small but steady market in trading cattle hides and tallow were the main sources of commerce.

America Wins California; Gold Discovered

The American flag was raised in the town's central square in 1846, marking the annexation of California by the United States after the war with Mexico; one year later the name of the town was changed to San Francisco. Soon after the annexation, the town's population was nearly doubled by the arrival of a group of 238 Mormon settlers, led by Sam Brannan. It was Brannan who ran through the muddy streets of San Francisco less than two years later shouting "Gold!," thus altering the city's fate. Within a year, more than 40,000 people had journeyed through the area on their way to the gold fields around Sutter's Mill in the Sierra foothills, about 140 miles away. Some 35,000 of those people stayed on to live in San Francisco. The city was incorporated in 1850.

The gold prospectors came from all corners of the globe and tended to settle in areas according to their nationalities, one reason for the distinctive international flavor of modern San Francisco. Demand for food and shelter outstripped the supply, and many people lived in tents, cooking over campfires. Whole crews abandoned their ships in the harbor, leaving hundreds of empty hulls that were brought ashore and used as temporary warehouses, stores, and as the foundations of the town's new buildings. Gambling halls, saloons, hotels, and stores sprang up almost daily, only to be destroyed by frequent fires and then quickly rebuilt. It was a wild and reckless time; rampant lawlessness was common, so much so that in 1851 concerned citizens banded together into vigilante groups and rounded up the worst violators, eventually restoring order to the town.

Gold Boom Goes Bust; Industry, Shipping Thrive

The gold boom declined by the mid-1850s, but the town continued to grow with increases in industry and shipping. The 1859 silver boom in Nevada and the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 also contributed their share to the city's prosperity. The downtown area grew full of large stone buildings and warehouses along the docks, and the surrounding hills were filled with impressive residential homes. By the turn of the century, San Francisco was home to a population of more than a third of a million people and was the ninth largest city in the country.

April 18, 1906, brought disaster to the city in the form of a major earthquake and fire that killed more than 500 people, devastated 3,000 acres in the heart of the city, and left almost 1,000 residents homeless. Among the heroes of the day were the U.S. Navy, who stretched a mile-long fire hose from Fisherman's Wharf over Telegraph Hill and down to Jackson Square, saving historic buildings. Before the ashes were cold, the townspeople set out to rebuild the city, and by 1915, when San Francisco hosted the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in honor of the opening of the Panama Canal, no traces of the fire and earthquake were visible.

Rise of Finance, Commerce, Culture

During the mid-twentieth century, San Francisco secured its position as the financial, commercial, and cultural center of northern California. The completion of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937, after four years of exhausting work, was the major event of the period and a symbol of the city's new-found prominence. Designer Joseph Strauss tried for more than a decade to convince disbelievers that the plans for the construction of the bridge were feasible, and many people still doubted that it could stand for long even after its completion. The structure, the second-longest suspension bridge in the world, is more than three-quarters of a mile in length, supported by two 746-foot towers. It remains one of the outstanding engineering achievements of all time, drawing hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.

World War II boosted the already strong economy of the city, which became a major supply and troop shipping port for the Pacific fronts and an important area for defense industries. It was also during this time that large numbers of the area's Oriental citizens were interred in work camps in the region. After the war, the city pointed the way to peace when delegates representing almost all of the world's countries gathered in San Francisco to draw up the charter of the United Nations.

The post-war era brought continued growth and prosperity. San Francisco's downtown area began to develop a skyline of high-rise buildings while carefully preserving many of the historical structures and green spaces. A large stretch of high-technology industries eventually built up in the nearby area known as Silicon Valley. The city fought problems of urban blight encountered in the 1960s and 1970s with an extensive urban-renewal program, developing the downtown section and introducing a major Rapid Transit System in 1974 to provide access to the center city. The assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk in November 1978 were a blow to the city's progressive image. The city elected its first woman mayor, Diane Feinstein, in 1979.

Another major earthquake occurred on October 17, 1989, ending decades of tranquility in the San Francisco Bay Area. The region has recovered strongly, showing a spirit of cooperation and determination. Today, San Francisco is considered a "gem" among cities. While other metropolitan areas build freeways to deal with urban sprawl, San Francisco remains a compact city with a flourishing downtown business and retail center, and charming neighborhoods. The city boasts many famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman's Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Chinatown, and cable cars.

Historical Information: California Historical Society, 678 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105; telephone (415)357-1848; fax (415)357-1850. Chinese Historical Society of America, 965 Clay Street, San Francisco, CA 94108; telephone (415)391-1188. San Francisco African American Historical and Cultural Society, Fort Mason Center, Bldg. C, Room 165, San Francisco, CA 94123; telephone (415)441-0640

San Francisco

views updated May 08 2018


SAN FRANCISCO. Located on a forty-nine-square-mile peninsula in northern California, San Francisco grew from a small Spanish mission and military garrison (presidio) into one of the world's leading financial, technological, and cultural centers. The city's beauty, accentuated by its ocean and bay views, and Mediterranean climate have turned it into a beacon for tourists from all over the world. San Francisco's thriving economy, now based heavily on technology and finance, brings countless new arrivals into the city in search of their slice of the American pie.

Gaspar de Portolá discovered San Francisco Bay in 1769 on a journey north from San Diego. By 1776, Spanish settlers occupied San Francisco and set up a mission and military station. When Mexico gained independence from Spain in 1821, California became Mexican territory.

In 1835, the small trading settlement of Yerba Buena was established, which became San Francisco in 1848. The United States took over in 1846 during the Mexican-American War and two years later, the gold rush turned the city into a burgeoning metropolis. San Francisco was incorporated as a city in 1850.

After the gold rush, San Francisco changed from a lawless frontier station into a financial, industrial, and commercial center. In 1906, an earthquake and fire leveled much of the city, killing more than 3,000 and leaving 250,000 homeless. Once rebuilt, though, San Francisco grew in financial prominence. The completion of the Panama Canal ensured that it would be closely tied to the money on the East Coast. Throughout the twentieth century, the city remained a hub for Pacific Rim finance, backed by Bank of America founder A. P. Giannini and the establishment of the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange. Bank of America financed the building of numerous businesses in the Bay area and major infrastructure developments, including the Golden Gate Bridge.

Culturally, San Francisco is well known for its progressiveness, diversity, and acceptance of a variety of political viewpoints, sexual preferences, and ethnicities. Since the mid-1800s, the city has had a large Asian and Pacific Island population, and now has a growing Hispanic community. Of San Francisco's 750,000 citizens, whites comprise only about 50 percent of the population, while African Americans make up about 10 to 15 percent. The Bay area has also become a budding center for Middle Eastern and Indian immigrants.

San Francisco is known as a hotbed of liberalism—from its long history of labor unrest, exemplified by the general strike of 1934, to its place at the center of the 1960s counterculture, and today's large gay and lesbian communities, which make up about 20 percent of the population. The Democratic Party has dominated city politics since the early 1960s. San Francisco's challenges include finding a way to deal with rampant homelessness and striking the right balance between industrialism and tourism as the basis for the city's economy. The Bay area also has unusually high housing costs and the influx of people moving to the region has clogged its infrastructure.

Tourism remains a key facet of the San Francisco economy. Tourists flock to attractions such as Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, the cable cars, and a diverse mix of museums and sporting events. With its steep hills, water views, and historic landmarks, such as Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, the city has been the setting for numerous motion pictures, television shows, and novels.

Fueled by cowboy lore and the gold rush in the mid-nineteenth century, the city has long drawn the adventurous and courageous. Modern San Francisco still retains some of the old lure of the West. During the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, thousands of technologists poured into the city in search of untold wealth brought on by the Information Age. Despite the implosion of the dot-com bubble, San Francisco and Silicon Valley remain centers for technological innovation.


Issel, William and Robert W. Cherny. San Francisco, 1865–1932: Politics, Power, and Urban Development. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.

Kurzman, Dan. Disaster!: The Great San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906. New York: William Morrow, 2001.

Richards, Rand. Historic San Francisco: A Concise History and Guide. San Francisco: Heritage House, 2001.


See alsoCounterculture ; Gold Rush, California ; Golden Gate Bridge andvol. 9:Gentlemen's Agreement ; Constitution of the Committee of Vigilantes of San Francisco .

San Francisco: Education and Research

views updated May 17 2018

San Francisco: Education and Research

Elementary and Secondary Schools

Founded in 1851, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) was the first public school district established in California. The SFUSD is a multicultural, multilingual, major urban public school system in which ethnic and racial diversity is considered a strength. English is the second language of nearly one-third of SFUSD students. The student body is currently 10.3 percent white, 21.3 percent Latino/Latina, 15.2 percent African American, 30.5 percent Chinese, 1 percent Japanese, 0.9 percent Korean, .06 percent Native American, 6.7 percent Filipino, and 11.9 percent other non-white ethnicities. The SFUSD encompasses all of San Francisco County, making it one of the largest in the state of California. The school board consists of seven partisan members who appoint the superintendent. The San Francisco school system provides a rigorous curriculum that develops student curiosity and creativity while preparing them for success at college and in careers.

The following is a summary of data regarding San Francisco public schools as of the 20032004 school year.

Total enrollment: 58,566

Number of facilities elementary schools: 78

middle schools: 17

senior high schools: 21

other: 39 children's centers

Student/teacher ratio: varies by school, subject, and grade level

Teacher salaries (2001-2002)

minimum: $38,000

maximum: $64,326

Funding per pupil: Figure available on a per-school basis only

A number of private and parochial schools provide alternative forms of education in the San Francisco area.

Public Schools Information: San Francisco Unified School District, 555 Franklin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102; telephone (415)241-6000

Colleges and Universities

San Francisco has many fully accredited colleges and universities, including San Francisco State University (enrollment 28,804); the University of California, San Francisco (enrollment 2,800); Golden Gate University (enrollment 3,092); the University of San Francisco (enrollment 6,415); City College of San Francisco (17,819); the Hastings College of the Law; and the Academy of Art College. These and other area institutions offer graduate and professional degrees in more than 100 fields of specialization. Nearby Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, two schools with international reputations, provide still more opportunities for educational pursuits.

Libraries and Research Centers

The San Francisco Public Library consists of the main library and 26 other branches throughout the city, providing a total of more than 2 million volumes, as well as films, videotapes, CDs, recordings, art reproductions, and extensive services for the hearing impaired. The library's special collections include material on calligraphy, the history of printing, Panama Canal manuscripts, science fiction and fantasy, San Francisco history, gay and lesbian history, and a document department featuring United Nations, federal, state, and local documents. By the year 2010, the Main's collection is projected to hold 1.3 million books, 6 million microfiche and microfilm items, and 340,000 bound periodicals. In November 2000, a $129 million bond measure passed that will provide the public with seismically safe, accessible, code compliant branch libraries in every neighborhood of San Francisco. Combined with other state and local, public and private fund sources, this program will allow the renovation of 19 branches, replace four leased facilities with city-owned branches, and construct a new branch in Mission Bay; in 2005 several projects were completed, with construction or preliminary assessments underway at other branches and new building sites. A variety of other professional, scholastic, and special interest libraries serve the metropolitan area.

The city's proximity to Silicon Valley produces a large amount of research activity. Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley are world-class research institutions specializing in a variety of fields. Other important research centers include the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, which conducts extensive bio-genetic research, and the Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, which works with high-energy lasers and weapons research. The California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute conducts clinical trials and research programs in a variety of medical subjects, including pain, cancer, AIDS, cardiovascular disease, hepatitis, and others.

Public Library Information: San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102; telephone (415)557-4400

San Francisco: Communications

views updated May 29 2018

San Francisco: Communications

Newspapers and Magazines

San Francisco is prominent in the publishing industry on both the regional and national levels. The city is served by two major daily newspapers, the morning San Francisco Chronicle and the evening San Francisco Examiner. A number of weekly special interest, alternative, foreign-language, and neighborhood papers are also printed. Several nationally distributed magazines are based in the city, as are many trade, industry, and technical journals. Among the many local and national publications are San Francisco, Mother Jones, and MacWorld. A variety of scholarly, medical, and professional journals are published in San Francisco.

Television and Radio

Fifteen television stations provide viewing choices from the commercial networks, public television, and foreign-language stations. Additional channels are available through cable service. Thirty-one AM and FM radio stations broadcast in San Francisco, offering a range of music, news, and information programming.

Media Information: San Francisco Chronicle, 901 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103-2988; telephone (415)777-1111. San Francisco Examiner, 110 Fifth Street, San Francisco, CA 94103; telephone (415)777-5700

San Francisco Online

California Historical Society. Available

City of San Francisco Home Page. Available

San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. Available

San Francisco Chronicle. Available

San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau (for information on events, activities, transportation, and lodging reservations). Available

San Francisco Examiner. Available

San Francisco Partnership's. Available

San Francisco Public Library. Available

San Francisco Unified School District. Available

Selected Bibliography

Caen, Herb, Baghdad by the Bay (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1949)

Gold, Herbert, Bohemia: Where Art, Angst, Love, and Strong Coffee Meet (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993)

Lewis, Oscar, San Francisco: Mission to Metropolis (San Diego: Howell-North Books, 1980)

Twain, Mark, Mark Twain's San Francisco (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963)

Twain, Mark, Roughing it in California (Kentfield, CA: L-D Allen Press, 1953)

Twain, Mark, The Washoe Giant in San Francisco (San Francisco: G. Fields, 1938)

Wheeler, Richard S., Aftershocks (New York: Forge, 1999)

San Francisco: Population Profile

views updated Jun 27 2018

San Francisco: Population Profile

Metropolitan Area Residents (PMSA) 1980: 1,489,000

1990: 1,603,678

2000: 1,731,183

Percent change, 19902000: 7.8%

U.S. rank in 1980: 5th (CMSA)

U.S. rank in 1990: 4th (CMSA)

U.S. rank in 2000: 5th (CMSA)

City Residents

1980: 678,974

1990: 723,959

2000: 776,733

2003 estimate: 745,774

Percent change, 19902000: 3.0%

U.S. rank in 1980: 13th

U.S. rank in 1990: 14th

U.S. rank in 2000: 18th (State rank: 4th)

Density: 16,634.4 people per square mile (2000)

Racial and ethnic characteristics (2000)

White: 385,728

Black or African American: 60,515

American Indian and Alaska Native: 3,458

Asian: 239,565

Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander: 3,844

Hispanic or Latino (may be of any race): 109,504

Other: 50,368

Percent of residents born in state: 51.2% (2000)

Age characteristics (2000)

Population under 5 years old: 31,633

Population 5 to 9 years old: 31,564

Population 10 to 14 years old: 30,813

Population 15 to 19 years old: 33,334

Population 20 to 24 years old: 56,054

Population 25 to 34 years old: 180,418

Population 35 to 44 years old: 133,804

Population 45 to 54 years old: 107,718

Population 55 to 59 years old: 35,026

Population 60 to 64 years old: 30,258

Population 65 to 74 years old: 53,955

Population 75 to 84 years old: 37,929

Population 85 years and over: 14,227

Median age: 36.5 years

Births (2001)

Total number: 8,210

Deaths (2001)

Total number: 8,138 (of which, 57 were infants under the age of 1 year)

Money income (1999)

Per capita income: $34,556 (2000)

Median household income: $55,221

Total households: 328,850

Number of households with income of . . .

less than $10,000: 32,261

$10,000 to $14,999: 16,394

$15,000 to $24,999: 28,142

$25,000 to $34,999: 29,596

$35,000 to $49,999: 43,784

$50,000 to $74,999: 58,297

$75,000 to $99,999: 39,969

$100,000 to $149,999: 43,534

$150,000 to $199,999: 17,613

$200,000 or more: 20,260

Percent of families below poverty level: 7.8% (32.2% of which were female householder families with related children under 5 years)

2002 FBI Crime Index Total: 42,671

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San Francisco