San Francisco in a Nutshell
A colorful and bubbling city with a vibrant bay area, and a large, cheerful LGBT community.
Endowed with cooling summers, a bustling port, excellent dishes, famous convenient cable cars up and down its hills, and the impressive Golden Gate – no one should miss a visit to San Francisco and its area.
The Foundation of the City
In the past, this area was inhabited by Native Americans, until in 1769, Spanish ships arrived and established a settlement named Presidio of San Francisco, named after St. Francis of Assisi.
The city was founded as San Francisco in 1846. Nowadays, the San Francisco Bay area is the second most densely populated large city in the US, after New York City.In the second half of the 20 century the bay activity moved to Oakland, and therefore, San Francisco focused more on tourism. It was also when many Asians and Latin-Americans moved there.
In those years subcultures and alternative communities started to settle there, (Hippies, San Francisco Renaissance, and others), until the highlight in the Summer of Love in 1967, when a multitude converged in Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.
The city’s comeback as a trade center begun in the “dot com bubble” in the ‘90s. Even when the bubble burst at the beginning of the 21st century, SF remained a prime location of the global high-tech industry.
History and Key Events
During the gold rush period that started in 1848, thousands of men arrived in CA to seek their fortune, and the city’s population increased to the point it was the most populated area in the west (although an interesting fact is that the women’s presence back then was less than 20%).
It then became one of the largest banking and financial centers in the United States.The city thrived and expanded till the beginning of the 19th century. The port and platforms were extended, and the city became a central trade center, which led to the establishment of several banks, as well as hotels and buildings.
In 1873, the first cable car carried people, and Victorian house’s style began to shape the city’s landscape. It was also the time when the Chinese population started arriving in the city (back then they were 8% of the residents).
Due to the city’s strategic location, the US Army built a fortress on the adjacent island Alcatraz to ensure the safety of the SF bay area. That later became the most guarded prison in the United States, also known as “The Rock”.
The 1906 earthquake and the fire that was caused by it, destroyed almost the entire city, but the rebuilding was quick and during that time lots of the infrastructure of the city as we know it today was built: cable car lines, reservoirs, railways, tunnels, hotels, and more.
In 1915, just nine years after the destruction, the city hosted the Panama–Pacific International Exposition, to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal.
Since its establishment, San Francisco has been always a solid financial area, even in The Great Depression of 1929 it was nearly affected and made new investments rather than reductions.
During the Second World War, this was a prime location for transferring soldiers to the battlefront at the Pacific Ocean, but after the war was over, many immigrants moved to the city, and more liberal voices started to be heard until it became a liberal activism center.
In 1945, the United Nations Declaration was signed at the San Francisco Conference.
Up until today, it is considered to be a trade center, as the home to many hi-tech and technology companies, including Twitter, Instagram, and many more, just tens of kilometers south Silicon Valley.
And yet, the homeless population in San Francisco is one of the highest in the US.
Geography and Demography
Located on the West Coast of the United States, the peninsula and the islands related to it lies on the Pacific Ocean.
The locals describe the territory of the city as “seven-by-seven-mile square”, and it is very famous for its topography and many hills.
The area is divided into neighborhoods which most of them are called after the hills they are built on, creating a beautiful and unique landscape that can be seen from the top of the Twin Peaks.
In this city, there is also the most winding street in the world, Lumbard St. in the Russian Hill, and from the ‘70s, Castro St. became a LGBT village, and until now San Francisco has a large community.
The white population was always the majority group in the city, since its establishment.
It started with more than 95% till 1970, when they left to live in the suburbs, and more immigrants arrived at the city.
Among the minority groups, the Chinese population was always the largest, reaching slightly more than 20% of the city population. Therefore the Chinatown area is a key location in the city.
The second largest minority group is Hispanic, seems not related to the Mexican who used to own San Francisco, and since WW2 African-Americans from the south came to the city and became part of the community ever since.
The multi-cultural nature of the city due to the masses of immigrants shaped the city with an extravagant landscape of a beautiful combination between Victorian and modern architecture and a thriving art scene.