City and County of San Francisco, California

This article is about the city and county in California. For other uses, see San Francisco (disambiguation).

San Francisco
City and county
City and County of San Francisco

San Francisco from the Marin Headlands, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the foreground
Seal
Nickname(s): The City by the Bay; Fog City; S.F.; Frisco;[1][2][3][4] The City that Knows How (antiquated);[5] Baghdad by the Bay (antiquated);[6] The Paris of the West[7]
Motto: Oro en Paz, Fierro en Guerra
(English: "Gold in Peace, Iron in War")

Location of San Francisco in California
San Francisco
San Francisco
Location in the United States

Coordinates: 37°47′N 122°25′W / 37.783°N 122.417°W / 37.783; -122.417Coordinates: 37°47′N 122°25′W / 37.783°N 122.417°W / 37.783; -122.417

Country  United States
State  California
Founded June 29, 1776
Incorporated April 15, 1850[8]
Founded by Lieutenant José Joaquin Moraga and Francisco Palóu
Named for St. Francis of Assisi
Government
 • Type Mayor-council
 • Body Board of Supervisors
 • Mayor of San Francisco Ed Lee
 • Board of Supervisors
 • California State Assembly Tom Ammiano (D)
Phil Ting (D)
 • California State Senate Leland Yee (D)
Mark Leno (D)
 • United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D)
Jackie Speier (D)
Area[9]
 • City and county 231.89 sq mi (600.6 km2)
 • Land 46.87 sq mi (121.4 km2)
 • Water 185.02 sq mi (479.2 km2)  79.79%
 • Metro 3,524.4 sq mi (9,128 km2)
Elevation 52 ft (16 m)
Highest elevation 925 ft (282 m)
Lowest elevation 0 ft (0 m)
Population (2013)[10]
 • City and county 825,111
 • Density 17,620/sq mi (6,800/km2)
 • Urban 3,273,190
 • Metro 4,335,391
 • CSA 8,371,000
Demonym San Franciscan
Time zone Pacific Standard Time (UTC-8)
 • Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC-7)
ZIP Code 94101–94112, 94114–94147, 94150–94170, 94172, 94175, 94177
Area code(s) 415
FIPS code 06-67000
FIPS code 06-075
GNIS feature ID 277593
Website

San Francisco Listeni/sæn frənˈsɪsk/, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the leading financial and cultural center of Northern California and the San Francisco Bay Area.

The only consolidated city-county in California,[11] San Francisco encompasses a land area of about 46.9 square miles (121 km2)[12] on the northern end of the San Francisco Peninsula, giving it a density of about 17,620 people per square mile (6,803 people per km2). It is the most densely settled large city (population greater than 200,000) in the state of California and the second-most densely populated major city in the United States after New York.[13] San Francisco is the fourth most populous city in California, after Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose, and the 14th most populous city in the United States—with a Census-estimated 2012 population of 825,863.[14] The city is also the financial and cultural hub of the larger San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland metropolitan area, with a population of 8.4 million.

San Francisco (Spanish for "Saint Francis") was founded on June 29, 1776, when colonists from Spain established a fort at the Golden Gate and a mission named for St. Francis of Assisi a few miles away.[15] The California Gold Rush of 1849 brought rapid growth, making it the largest city on the West Coast at the time. Due to the growth of its population, San Francisco became a consolidated city-county in 1856.[16] After three-quarters of the city was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire,[17] San Francisco was quickly rebuilt, hosting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition nine years later. During World War II, San Francisco was the port of embarkation for service members shipping out to the Pacific Theater.[18] After the war, the confluence of returning servicemen, massive immigration, liberalizing attitudes, and other factors led to the Summer of Love and the gay rights movement, cementing San Francisco as a center of liberal activism in the United States.

Today, San Francisco is ranked 44th of the top tourist destinations in the world,[19] and was the sixth most visited one in the United States in 2011.[20] The city is renowned for its cool summers, fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of architecture, and landmarks including the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, the former prison on Alcatraz Island, and its Chinatown district. It is also a primary banking and finance center.

History

Historical Affiliations

Spanish Empire 1776–1821
First Mexican Empire 1821–1823
United Mexican States 1823–1848
United States 1848–present

The earliest archaeological evidence of human habitation of the territory of the city of San Francisco dates to 3000 BC.[21] The Yelamu group of the Ohlone people resided in a few small villages when a Spanish exploration party, led by Don Gaspar de Portolà arrived on November 2, 1769, the first documented European visit to San Francisco Bay.[22] Seven years later, on March 28, 1776, the Spanish established the Presidio of San Francisco, followed by a mission, Mission San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores).

Upon independence from Spain in 1821, the area became part of Mexico. Under Mexican rule, the mission system gradually ended, and its lands became privatized. In 1835, Englishman William Richardson erected the first independent homestead,[23] near a boat anchorage around what is today Portsmouth Square. Together with Alcalde Francisco de Haro, he laid out a street plan for the expanded settlement, and the town, named Yerba Buena, began to attract American settlers. Commodore John D. Sloat claimed California for the United States on July 7, 1846, during the Mexican-American War, and Captain John B. Montgomery arrived to claim Yerba Buena two days later. Yerba Buena was renamed San Francisco on January 30 of the next year,[24] and Mexico officially ceded the territory to the United States at the end of the war. Despite its attractive location as a port and naval base, San Francisco was still a small settlement with inhospitable geography.[25]


The California Gold Rush brought a flood of treasure seekers. With their sourdough bread in tow,[26] prospectors accumulated in San Francisco over rival Benicia,[27] raising the population from 1,000 in 1848 to 25,000 by December 1849.[28] The promise of fabulous riches was so strong that crews on arriving vessels deserted and rushed off to the gold fields, leaving behind a forest of masts in San Francisco harbor.[29] California was quickly granted statehood, and the U.S. military built Fort Point at the Golden Gate and a fort on Alcatraz Island to secure the San Francisco Bay. Silver discoveries, including the Comstock Lode in 1859, further drove rapid population growth.[30] With hordes of fortune seekers streaming through the city, lawlessness was common, and the Barbary Coast section of town gained notoriety as a haven for criminals, prostitution, and gambling.[31]

Entrepreneurs sought to capitalize on the wealth generated by the Gold Rush. Early winners were the banking industry, with the founding of Wells Fargo in 1852 and the Bank of California in 1864. Development of the Port of San Francisco and the establishment in 1869 of overland access to the Eastern U.S. rail system via the newly completed Pacific Railroad (the construction of which the city only reluctantly helped support[32]) helped make the Bay Area a center for trade. Catering to the needs and tastes of the growing population, Levi Strauss opened a dry goods business and Domingo Ghirardelli began manufacturing chocolate. Immigrant laborers made the city a polyglot culture, with Chinese railroad workers creating the city's Chinatown quarter. In 1870, Asians made up 8% of the population.[33] The first cable cars carried San Franciscans up Clay Street in 1873. The city's sea of Victorian houses began to take shape, and civic leaders campaigned for a spacious public park, resulting in plans for Golden Gate Park. San Franciscans built schools, churches, theaters, and all the hallmarks of civic life. The Presidio developed into the most important American military installation on the Pacific coast.[34] By 1890, San Francisco's population approached 300,000, making it the eighth largest city in the U.S. at the time. Around 1901, San Francisco was a major city known for its flamboyant style, stately hotels, ostentatious mansions on Nob Hill, and a thriving arts scene.[35] The first North American plague epidemic was the San Francisco plague of 1900–1904.[36]

At 5:12 am on April 18, 1906, a major earthquake struck San Francisco and northern California. As buildings collapsed from the shaking, ruptured gas lines ignited fires that spread across the city and burned out of control for several days. With water mains out of service, the Presidio Artillery Corps attempted to contain the inferno by dynamiting blocks of buildings to create firebreaks.[38] More than three-quarters of the city lay in ruins, including almost all of the downtown core.[17] Contemporary accounts reported that 498 people lost their lives, though modern estimates put the number in the several thousands.[39] More than half the city's population of 400,000 were left homeless.[40] Refugees settled temporarily in makeshift tent villages in Golden Gate Park, the Presidio, on the beaches, and elsewhere. Many fled permanently to the East Bay.


Rebuilding was rapid and performed on a grand scale. Rejecting calls to completely remake the street grid, San Franciscans opted for speed.[41] Amadeo Giannini's Bank of Italy, later to become Bank of America, provided loans for many of those whose livelihoods had been devastated. The influential San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association or SPUR was founded in 1910 to address the quality of housing after the earthquake.[42] The earthquake hastened development of western neighborhoods that survived the fire, including Pacific Heights, where many of the city's wealthy rebuilt their homes.[43] In turn, the destroyed mansions of Nob Hill became grand hotels. City Hall rose again in splendorous Beaux Arts style, and the city celebrated its rebirth at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915.[44]

It was during this period San Francisco built some of its most important infrastructure. Civil Engineer Michael O'Shaughnessy was hired by San Francisco Mayor James Rolph as chief engineer for the city in September 1912 to supervise the construction of the Twin Peaks Reservoir, the Stockton Street Tunnel, the Twin Peaks Tunnel, the San Francisco Municipal Railway, the Auxiliary Water Supply System, and new sewers. San Francisco's streetcar system, of which the J, K, L, M, and N lines survive today, was pushed to completion by O'Shaughnessy between 1915 and 1927. It was the O'Shaughnessy Dam, Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, and Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct that would have the largest effect on San Francisco.[45] An abundant water supply enabled San Francisco to develop into the city it has become today.


In ensuing years, the city solidified its standing as a financial capital; in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash, not a single San Francisco-based bank failed.[46] Indeed, it was at the height of the Great Depression that San Francisco undertook two great civil engineering projects, simultaneously constructing the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge, completing them in 1936 and 1937 respectively. It was in this period that the island of Alcatraz, a former military stockade, began its service as a federal maximum security prison, housing notorious inmates such as Al Capone, and Robert Franklin Stroud, The Birdman of Alcatraz. San Francisco later celebrated its regained grandeur with a World's Fair, the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939–40, creating Treasure Island in the middle of the bay to house it.


During World War II, the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard became a hub of activity, and Fort Mason became the primary port of embarkation for service members shipping out to the Pacific Theater of Operations.[18] The explosion of jobs drew many people, especially African Americans from the South, to the area. After the end of the war, many military personnel returning from service abroad and civilians who had originally come to work decided to stay. The UN Charter creating the UN was drafted and signed in San Francisco in 1945 and, in 1951, the Treaty of San Francisco officially ended the war with Japan.

Urban planning projects in the 1950s and 1960s involved widespread destruction and redevelopment of west-side neighborhoods and the construction of new freeways, of which only a series of short segments were built before being halted by citizen-led opposition.[47] The onset of containerization made San Francisco's small piers obsolete, and cargo activity moved to the larger Port of Oakland.[48] The city began to lose industrial jobs and turned to tourism as the most important segment of its economy.[49] The suburbs experienced rapid growth, and San Francisco underwent significant demographic change, as large segments of the white population left the city, supplanted by an increasing wave of immigration from Asia and Latin America.[50][51] From 1950 to 1980, the city lost over 10 percent of its population.

Over this period, San Francisco became a magnet for America's counterculture. Beat Generation writers fueled the San Francisco Renaissance and centered on the North Beach neighborhood in the 1950s.[52] Hippies flocked to Haight-Ashbury in the 1960s, reaching a peak with the 1967 Summer of Love.[53] In 1974, the Zebra murders left at least 16 people dead.[54] In the 1970s, the city became a center of the gay rights movement, with the emergence of The Castro as an urban gay village, the election of Harvey Milk to the Board of Supervisors, and his assassination, along with that of Mayor George Moscone, in 1978.[55]

Bank of America completed 555 California Street in 1969 and the Transamerica Pyramid was completed in 1972,[56] igniting a wave of "Manhattanization" that lasted until the late 1980s, a period of extensive high-rise development downtown.[57] The 1980s also saw a dramatic increase in the number of homeless people in the city, an issue that remains today, despite many attempts to address it.[58] The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake caused destruction and loss of life throughout the Bay Area. In San Francisco, the quake severely damaged structures in the Marina and South of Market districts and precipitated the demolition of the damaged Embarcadero Freeway and much of the damaged Central Freeway, allowing the city to reclaim its historic downtown waterfront and revitalizing the Hayes Valley neighborhood.

During the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, startup companies invigorated the economy. Large numbers of entrepreneurs and computer application developers moved into the city, followed by marketing, design, and sales professionals, changing the social landscape as once-poorer neighborhoods became increasingly gentrified.[59] Demand for new housing and office space ignited a second wave of high-rise development, this time South of Market.[60] By 2000, the city's population reached new highs, surpassing the previous record set in 1950. When the bubble burst in 2001, many of these companies folded and their employees were laid off. Yet high technology and entrepreneurship remain mainstays of the San Francisco economy with the social media boom fueling growth in the second decade of the new century.[61]

Geography


San Francisco is located on the West Coast of the United States at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula and includes significant stretches of the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay within its boundaries. Several picturesque islandsAlcatraz, Treasure Island and the adjacent Yerba Buena Island, and small portions of Alameda Island, Red Rock Island, and Angel Island—are part of the city. Also included are the uninhabited Farallon Islands, 27 miles (43 km) offshore in the Pacific Ocean. The mainland within the city limits roughly forms a "seven-by-seven-mile square," a common local colloquialism referring to the city's shape, though its total area, including water, is nearly 232 square miles (600 km2).


San Francisco is famous for its hills. There are more than 50 hills within city limits.[62] Some neighborhoods are named after the hill on which they are situated, including Nob Hill, Potrero Hill, and Russian Hill. Near the geographic center of the city, southwest of the downtown area, are a series of less densely populated hills. Twin Peaks, a pair of hills forming one of the city's highest points, forms a popular overlook spot. San Francisco's tallest hill, Mount Davidson, is 925 feet (282 m) high and is capped with a 103-foot (31 m) tall cross built in 1934.[63] Dominating this area is Sutro Tower, a large red and white radio and television transmission tower.

The nearby San Andreas and Hayward Faults are responsible for much earthquake activity, although neither physically passes through the city itself. The San Andreas Fault caused the earthquakes in 1906 and 1989. Minor earthquakes occur on a regular basis. The threat of major earthquakes plays a large role in the city's infrastructure development. The city constructed an auxiliary water supply system and has repeatedly upgraded its building codes, requiring retrofits for older buildings and higher engineering standards for new construction.[64] However, there are still thousands of smaller buildings that remain vulnerable to quake damage.[65]

San Francisco's shoreline has grown beyond its natural limits. Entire neighborhoods such as the Marina, Mission Bay, and Hunters Point, as well as large sections of the Embarcadero, sit on areas of landfill. Treasure Island was constructed from material dredged from the bay as well as material resulting from tunneling through Yerba Buena Island during the construction of the Bay Bridge. Such land tends to be unstable during earthquakes. The resulting liquefaction causes extensive damage to property built upon it, as was evidenced in the Marina district during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.[66] Most of the city's natural watercourses, such as Islais Creek and Mission Creek, have been culverted and built over, although the Public Utilities Commission is studying proposals to daylight or restore some creeks.[67]

Climate

San Francisco
Climate chart (explanation)
JFMAMJJASOND
 
 
4.5
 
57
46
 
 
4.6
 
60
48
 
 
3.3
 
63
49
 
 
1.5
 
64
50
 
 
0.7
 
66
52
 
 
0.2
 
68
53
 
 
0
 
69
55
 
 
0.1
 
70
56
 
 
0.2
 
71
56
 
 
1.1
 
70
54
 
 
3.2
 
63
51
 
 
4.6
 
57
47
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches

A popular quote incorrectly attributed to Mark Twain is "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco".[68][69] San Francisco's climate is characteristic of the cool-summer Mediterranean climate (Csb)[70] of California’s coast, "generally characterized by moist mild winters and dry summers".[71] Since it is surrounded on three sides by water, San Francisco's weather is strongly influenced by the cool currents of the Pacific Ocean, which moderate temperature swings and produce a remarkably mild year-round climate with little seasonal temperature variation.


Among major U.S. cities, San Francisco has the coldest daily mean, maximum, and minimum temperatures for June, July, and August.[72] During the summer, rising hot air in California's interior valleys creates a low pressure area that draws winds from the North Pacific High through the Golden Gate, which creates the city's characteristic cool winds and fog.[73] The fog is less pronounced in eastern neighborhoods and during the late summer and early fall, which is the warmest time of the year.

Because of its sharp topography and maritime influences, San Francisco exhibits a multitude of distinct microclimates. The high hills in the geographic center of the city are responsible for a 20% variance in annual rainfall between different parts of the city. They also protect neighborhoods directly to their east ("banana belts" such as Noe Valley) from the foggy and sometimes very cold and windy conditions experienced in the Sunset District; for those who live on the eastern side of the city, San Francisco is sunnier, with an average of 260 clear days, and only 105 cloudy days per year.

Temperatures exceed 75 °F (24 °C) on average only 29 days a year.[74] The dry period of May to October is mild to warm, with average high temperatures of 64–71 °F (18–22 °C) and lows of 51–56 °F (11–13 °C). The rainy period of November to April is slightly cooler, with high temperatures of 58–64 °F (14–18 °C) and lows of 46–51 °F (8–11 °C). On average, there are 73 rainy days a year, and annual precipitation averages 23.6 inches (599.44 mm). Snowfall in the city is very rare, with only 10 measurable accumulations recorded since 1852, most recently in 1976 when up to 5 inches (130 mm) fell on Twin Peaks.[75][76]

The highest recorded temperature at the official National Weather Service office was 103 °F (39 °C) on July 17, 1988, and June 14, 2000. The lowest recorded temperature was 27 °F (−3 °C) on December 11, 1932.[77] The National Weather Service provides a helpful visual aid[78] graphing the information in the table below to display visually by month the annual typical temperatures, the past year's temperatures, and record temperatures.


Climate data for San Francisco (downtown), 1981–2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 79
(26)
81
(27)
86
(30)
94
(34)
101
(38)
103
(39)
103
(39)
98
(37)
101
(38)
102
(39)
86
(30)
76
(24)
103
(39)
Average high °F (°C) 56.9
(13.8)
60.2
(15.7)
61.8
(16.6)
63.1
(17.3)
64.3
(17.9)
66.4
(19.1)
66.5
(19.2)
68.1
(20.1)
70.2
(21.2)
69.2
(20.7)
63.1
(17.3)
57.1
(13.9)
63.9
(17.7)
Daily mean °F (°C) 51.3
(10.7)
53.9
(12.2)
55.1
(12.8)
56.2
(13.4)
57.6
(14.2)
59.6
(15.3)
60.3
(15.7)
61.6
(16.4)
62.7
(17.1)
61.5
(16.4)
56.6
(13.7)
51.6
(10.9)
57.3
(14.1)
Average low °F (°C) 45.7
(7.6)
47.5
(8.6)
48.5
(9.2)
49.2
(9.6)
51.0
(10.6)
52.8
(11.6)
54.1
(12.3)
55.1
(12.8)
55.1
(12.8)
53.7
(12.1)
50.1
(10.1)
46.1
(7.8)
50.7
(10.4)
Record low °F (°C) 29
(−2)
31
(−1)
33
(1)
40
(4)
42
(6)
46
(8)
47
(8)
46
(8)
47
(8)
43
(6)
38
(3)
27
(−3)
27
(−3)
Rainfall inches (mm) 4.50
(114.3)
4.45
(113)
3.25
(82.6)
1.46
(37.1)
0.70
(17.8)
0.16
(4.1)
0.00
(0)
0.06
(1.5)
0.21
(5.3)
1.12
(28.4)
3.16
(80.3)
4.56
(115.8)
23.63
(600.2)
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.01 in) 11.7 11.1 11.0 6.5 3.8 1.5 0.3 1.0 1.7 3.9 8.9 11.6 73.0
Mean monthly sunshine hours 185.9 207.7 269.1 309.3 325.1 311.4 313.3 287.4 271.4 247.1 173.4 160.6 3,061.7
Source: NOAA (extremes 1874–present, sun 1961–1974)[79][80]


Cityscape

Main article: List of Landmarks and Historic Places in San Francisco
Downtown San Francisco, seen from Twin Peaks 5:52 pm, 27 October 2006.
Downtown San Francisco, seen from Twin Peaks at night in June 2011.