San Francisco – A City Guide
The City and County of San Francisco is the fourth-largest city in California in the United States. A consolidated city-county, mainland San Francisco is located on the tip of the San Francisco Peninsula. Insular San Francisco includes several islands in the San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Strait, notably Alcatraz, Treasure Island, and the Farallon Islands 27 miles offshore in the Pacific Ocean and most privately owned Red Rock Island near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.
San Francisco has a long history of events marking its growth from a small town to a big city.
” In 1776, the Spanish were the first Europeans to settle in San Francisco.
” In 1848, with the advent of the California gold rush, the city entered a period of rapid growth.
” In 1822, serious development by non-Spanish speakers began, when William Richardson, an English whaler redeveloped a section of Yerba Buena in what is now Portsmouth Square in Chinatown.
” In 1846, the Mexican-American War broke out.
” On January 30, 1847, a naval force under Commodore John D. Sloat claimed it in the name of the United States and renamed it “San Francisco.”
” On April 18, 1906, a devastating earthquake resulted from the rupture of over 270 miles of the San Andreas Fault, from San Juan Bautista to Eureka, centered immediately offshore of San Francisco.
” The city was quickly rebuilt after the earthquake.
” The phoenix on the city’s flag represents San Francisco’s “rebirth” from the ashes of the fire that resulted from the quake.
” In the 1950s, San Francisco hired Harvard graduate Justin Herman to head the city and county’s redevelopment agency.
” Justin Herman began an aggressive campaign to renew blighted areas of the city.
” His planning led to the creation of Embarcadero Center, the Embarcadero Freeway, Japan town, the Geary Street superblocks, and Yerba Buena Gardens.
Place of interest
San Francisco’s parks, museums, tours, and landmarks are favorites for travelers the world over and offer various activities to suit every visitor. But no particular activity or place makes the city one of the most popular destinations in the world. It’s San Francisco itself — its charm, atmosphere, and a perfect blend of a big metropolis with small-town hospitality. Some of its main attractions are:
” Alcatraz Island
” Cable Cars
” California Academy of Sciences
” Coit Tower
” Ferry Building Marketplace (and Farmers’ Market)
” Fisherman’s Wharf
” Ghiradelli Square
” Golden Gate Bridge
” Lombard Street
” Pier 39
” The Cannery
” Yerba Buena Center for the Arts / Yerba Buena Gardens
Museums & Art Galleries
Notable San Francisco Museums include
” The Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA),
” The Palace of the Legion of Honor,
” The M. H. de Young Memorial Museum,
” The Asian Art Museum.
Other museums include
” The International Museum of Women,
” The Museum of the African Diaspora,
” The Contemporary Jewish Museum,
” The Museum of Craft & Folk Art,
” The Mexican Museum.
In terms of performing arts, San Francisco boasts.
” The San Francisco Symphony,
” The San Francisco Opera
” The San Francisco Ballet.
San Francisco’s Ballet and Opera are some of the oldest continuing performing arts companies in the United States.
Like its population, San Francisco’s shopping is both worldly and intimate. Every persuasion, style, era, and fetish is represented, not in big, tacky shopping malls, but hundreds of quaint, dramatically different boutiques scattered throughout the city. San Francisco has many shopping areas, but the following places are where one will find most of the actions:
” Union Square & Environs
” Union Street
” Chestnut Street
” Fillmore Street
” Haight Street
” Hayes Valley
Food & Drink
San Francisco’s restaurants are so renowned that many people visit the city to eat — and with good reason. The city’s brilliant chefs, combined with California’s abundance of organic produce, seafood, free-range meats, and Northern California wine, guarantee some of the world’s finest dining. San Francisco also has varied nightlife ranging from bars to lounges to clubs. Major areas of nightlife in San Francisco are North Beach, the Mission District, the Marina, the Castro, and the South of Market. San Francisco also boasts of legendary pop music venues such as The Fillmore and The Warfield.
San Francisco Unified School District and the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s dozens of Catholic elementary and high schools serve the city. Despite its limited geographical space, San Francisco is home to a multitude of Universities and Colleges. Public universities include:
” University of California, San Francisco, primarily a graduate-level health-sciences school, located north of Forest Hill
” San Francisco State University located in the southwest corner of the city near Lake Merced
“The University of California, Hastings College of the Law located downtown at its Civic Center
” City College of San Francisco, one of the largest community colleges in the country, is located in the Ingleside, with several extension campuses.
” Private universities:
” The Jesuit-run University of San Francisco, one of the first universities established west of the Mississippi, is located in the city center.
” Golden Gate University, a business and law school, located downtown
” California Culinary Academy Le Cordon Bleu program located in the Tenderloin
” Academy of Art University
” San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking
” Alliant International University.
San Francisco is the home of many major league teams like
” The San Francisco 49ers National Football League team, who play at Monster Park
” The San Francisco Giants Major League Baseball team, who play at SBC Park
” MLB’s Oakland Athletics
” NFL’s Oakland Raiders
” The National Basketball Association’s Golden State Warriors play across the bay in Oakland.
” The regional National Hockey League team, the San Jose Sharks play in San Jose.
The Warriors and Sharks were once based just south of San Francisco, at the Cow Palace, located several yards south of San Francisco, in Daly City. The city is also home to some famous golf courses, including the Harding Park Golf Course and the Olympic Club courses.
Hotels & Accommodation
San Francisco has elegant and grand hotels in its possession. Westin St. Francis, Westin Saint Francis, Palace Hotel, Argent Hotel, Mark Hopkins Intercontinental, Hilton, Fairmont, W San Francisco, Pan Pacific, Park Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Renaissance Parc 55, Ritz Carlton – are some of these big names.
All famous luxury hotels like Hilton, Hyatt, Palace Hotel, etc., have their branch in Fisherman Wharf.
If the visit to San Francisco is in a hectic season and booking in prominent hotels are over, here’s a list of moderate to very inexpensive alternatives – Alisa Hotel, Edward II Inn & Suites, Hotel Beresford Arms, King George Hotel, The Marina Inn, The San Remo Hotel.
Tours and Sightseeing
San Francisco has a different type of organized tours. They differ in the contents as well as the transport system. Tours are available by Bus, Boat, BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit), or on foot. The San Francisco Visitor Information Center, at Powell and Market streets, distributes free route maps. Blue & Gold Fleet and Red & White Fleet are two boat tours available. And Gray Line Bus tour is San Francisco’s largest bus tour operator. The self-guided Private SUV tour, a 49-mile drive, is one easy way to grasp the beauty of San Francisco and its extraordinary location. Beginning in the city, it follows a rough circle around the bay and passes virtually all the best-known sights, from Chinatown to the Golden Gate Bridge, Ocean Beach, Seal Rocks, Golden Gate Park, and Twin Peaks.
San Francisco has the most extensive public transit system on the West Coast and one of the most diverse countries. Muni is the city-owned public transit system, which operates the Muni Metro light rail system. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is the regional transit system, which connects San Francisco with the East Bay through an underwater tunnel. Northern San Mateo County, California communities, and San Francisco International Airport on the San Francisco Peninsula. A frequent commuter rail service, Caltrain, operates between San Francisco, San Jose, California, and Gilroy, California.
San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is located 12.9 km (8 miles) south of the city in San Mateo County on a landfill extension into the San Francisco Bay. It is the only major international hub airport in California other than LAX in Los Angeles.