History of San Francisco
San Francisco was founded in 1776 by Spanish colonists who established a fort and a mission at the site of the present-day city and named it after Saint Francis of Assisi (San Francisco in Spanish). The first real impetus for the growth of the colony came in 1849 with the California Gold Rush. Within just one year, the population in the city grew from 1,000 to 25,000 and it became the largest West Coast city of its time.
In 1906, San Francisco was hit by a devastating earthquake and fire, which killed more than 3,000 people and destroyed as much as 80% of the city. Fortunately, the city managed to rebuild rather quickly and nine years later it was able to host the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Golden Gate Bridge was completed in 1937, and around the same time Alcatraz started serving as a federal maximum security prison, housing such inmates as Al Capone and Robert Franklin Stroud.
San Francisco was an important city during the World War II since it served as the primary port of embarkation for soldiers leaving for the Pacific Theater. After the war ended, the city received new immigration, not only from abroad but also from the States. San Francisco became a Mecca for America’s counterculture and home to movements such as the Beat generation and the hippies. This, combined with the city’s generally liberal attitude, resulted in the Summer of Love, in 1967. During the 1970s, San Francisco was a national center for gay rights. Gay activist Harvey Milk was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1978 and assassinated the same year, along with the Mayor Moscone.
Today, San Francisco is a major banking and finance center, a top tourist destination in the USA and also a hub for startup and social media companies.
Geography and Climate
San Francisco is located on the West Coast, at the northern part of the San Francisco Peninsula. The city limits include Pacific Ocean coast, parts of the San Francisco Bay and several islands, most notably Alcatraz, Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island. The city is notoriously hilly. There are more than 50 hills and many of them constitute individual neighborhoods (Telegraph Hill, Nob Hill, Pacific Heights, Russian Hill...). San Francisco is very susceptible to earthquakes, due to the proximity of San Andreas and Hayward Faults.
The city has a cool-summer Mediterranean climate, with wet, mild winters and mild to cool and generally dry summers. San Francisco is also known for being quite foggy.
Several parks and beaches in the city are part of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area, which is one of the most visited park systems in the U.S. Ocean Beach, Baker Beach, Fort Funston, Alcatraz and Golden Gate Park are among the most popular destinations within the city.
In 2010 San Francisco had a population of 805,235, of which 48.5% were non-Hispanic Whites, 33.3% were Asians, 15.1% Hispanic or Latino of any race, 6.1% African Americans, 0.5% Native Americans, 0.4% Pacific Islanders, 6.6% from some other race and 4.7% two or more races. The city has a minority-majority population, which means that Whites comprise less than a half of the population. One third of the population are Asians, and among them the Chinese constitute the largest group, followed by Filipinos, Vietnamese, Japanese, Asian Indians, Koreans, Thais, Burmese and others. Among the Hispanics, the largest group is the Mexicans, followed by Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, Guatemalans, Puerto Ricans, Peruvians and others.
The city not only has a long history of gay activism but it is also home to one of the largest LGBT communities in the USA.
San Francisco is one of the ten Beta World Cities and ranks 18th in the world by GDP (ninth in the USA).
Economy of San Francisco
Tourism is the largest private-sector employer in San Francisco. The city is also a large banking and financial center, home to the Wells Fargo corporate headquarters and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. The city is also closely connected to the Silicon Valley and hosts offices and branches of many prominent Internet companies.
Culture and Institutions
San Francisco has a very rich and vibrant cultural life. Notable cultural institutions in the city include War Memorial and Performing Arts Center (which houses the San Francisco Opera and the San Francisco Ballet), Davies Symphony Hall, Herbst Theatre, American Conservatory Theater, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, Asian Art Museum and many others.
One of the legendary venues in San Francisco is The Fillmore, actually the second incarnation of the original club from the 1960s which basically established the San Francisco Sound (most notably the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane). San Francisco has been the home to hundreds of accomplished musicians and bands, such as Creedence Clearwater Revival, Journey, Dead Kennedys, Faith No More and others. The city is also considered to be the birthplace of thrash metal.
Education and Sports
San Francisco has a number of universities and colleges. The University of California, San Francisco is the only campus of the University of California System dedicated entirely to health care and considered to be one of the top five medical schools in the USA. The University of California Hastings School of Law is the oldest law school in California. Other notable institutions include San Francisco State University, Academy of Art University, Golden Gate University, San Francisco Art Institute, Saybrook University and San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
As for the sports, the city is home to the San Francisco 49ers of the NFL and the San Francisco Giants of the MLB.