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San Francisco Earthquake - History

San Francisco Earthquake - History

The most disastrous earthquake in US history hit San Francisco on April 18. The earthquake, which caused its worst damage in the fire that raged in its aftermath, killed over 1,000 people. About 250,000 people were made homeless, and property damage was said to be $10.6 Billion.

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On Wednesday, April 18th, 1906 at 5:12 AM an earthquake with an estimated rating of 7.9 on the Richter scale struck San Francisco. At the time there was no Richter scale, so the 7.9 number is just an estimate. There was foreshock 20 seconds before; the main shock lasted 42 seconds. The initial shock destroyed thousands of buildings. It was the fires that broke out afterward that destroyed even more of the city. The fires were caused primarily by ruptured gas lines.

The initial quake had killed the San Francisco fire chief eliminating the person most capable of leading the fight against the fires. The army immediately sent troops from nearby bases to help. They patrolled the streets to stop looting and assisted in the rescue efforts. Four thousand army troops were involved in the rescue. Altogether 25,000 building located on over 490 city blocks were destroyed. Initial reports claimed that 375 people were killed in the earthquake, but later estimates put the number of killed between 700-3000

It is estimated that property losses were estimated at $400 million in 1906 dollars, equivalent to $10.9 billion in 2017. The city rebuilt quickly, and by 2015 the city had rebuilt. San Francisco was not the only place hit by the earthquake, the other cites in the area such as San Jose and Santa Rosa were destroyed.


Shaking Up History with '1906'

Shaking Up History with '1906'

Web Extra: Author James Dalessandro Reads from '1906'

The cover of '1906.' hide caption

Mayor E.E. Schmitz's proclamation set the stage for a slaughter. Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco hide caption

Detail from a photo of San Francisco after the 1906 Earthquake. Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco hide caption

The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 was one of the great natural disasters in American history. The quake and ensuing fire left a city known as the "Paris of the West" in ruins.

Then human venality made things worse. Looters were out in full force, picking damaged businesses clean. Federal troops given license to shoot and kill the thieves fired on many people who were simply trying to save their own property. And members of the security force also joined in the looting.

After the smoke cleared, politicians who had been the target of a massive corruption investigation before the disaster were left in power -- and painted a false picture for the world. They declared that fewer than 500 people had died, a figure that is now believed to be less than 10 percent of the actual toll.

Enrico Caruso Sings

In '1906,' Dalessandro has the tenor perform a haunting melody from 'La Boheme' as the city burns:

Author and screenwriter James Dalessandro tells the epic story in a new novel, 1906 . His heroine, a young investigative reporter at the center of the chaos and scandal, is fictional. But many real-life figures play a role. One is Enrico Caruso, the great tenor, who Dalessandro says really did sing (as legend has long held) from a hotel window as he surveyed the carnage.

The novel, already optioned to filmmaker Barry Levinson, hits shelves on the 98th anniversary of San Francisco's near demise. Dalessandro talks with NPR's Cheryl Corley about using fiction to set the historical record straight.


After the Shock

As with the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, fires began to break out in the city after it hit. The main area that was impacted was the Marina District. 

This district in the city is built on landfill, not hard stone or rock. The ground in this area was not able to absorb the forceful shaking from the earthquake and several buildings toppled over. 

When the buildings collapsed, it broke gas lines and a number of fires started. The difference this time is that the fires were quickly put out by high powered hoses and water from the bay. 

After this one, the only freeway running through the city had to be torn down due to damage from the quake. The freeway ran along the waterfront on the eastern side of the city.

It was a double decker freeway with two levels of lanes. The damage was so great that there was no way to repair the freeway, so it had to be removed. 

To this day, the city still has not rebuilt that portion of the freeway (which pleases locals as this part of the waterfront has been redone and is now gorgeous with the Ferry Building, the Exploratorium and several wonderful restaurants near the water).

The city of Oakland, right across the bay, also suffered quite a bit of damage from this one. The biggest issue was when a portion of the Oakland side of the Bay Bridge collapsed. 

A section of the top portion of the bridge collapsed onto the bottom portion of the bridge. Luckily, the bottom portion held up the additional weight and no cars fell into the waters of the SF Bay. 

Overall there were 63 deaths from this San Francisco earthquake. In addition, there were over 3,500 injuries and over 8,000 people became homeless. 

Significant structural damage also occurred. It is estimated that around 1,300 buildings were destroyed, and 20,000 buildings were damaged. 

These San Francisco Earthquake books include even more facts about the famous earthquakes in the region. They have first-hand accounts of what it was like during the shaking and what it took to rebuild after each one.

The 1989 Loma Prieta San Francisco earthquake was the second most devastating earthquake in SF's history. Visit the SF 1906 Earthquake page to learn more about the other famous San Francisco earthquake or visit the What Causes Quakes? page to get more cool facts. 


Contents

During the last 66 million years, nearly the entire west coast of North America was dominated by a subduction zone, with the Farallon Plate subducting beneath the North American Plate. Presently, the Juan de Fuca Plate (with its Explorer and Gorda satellite plates) and the Rivera and Cocos Plates are the only remnants of the once much larger Farallon Plate. The plate margin that remains in California is that of the strike-slip San Andreas Fault (SAF), the diffuse Pacific–North American plate boundary that extends east into the Basin and Range Province of eastern California and western Nevada (a seismically active area called Walker Lane) and southwest into the California Continental Borderland region off the central and southern coasts. This system of faults terminates in the north at the Mendocino Triple Junction, one of the most seismically active regions in the state, where earthquakes are occasionally the result of intraplate deformation within the Gorda Plate. It terminates in the south at the Salton Sea where displacement transitions to a series of spreading centers and transform faults, beginning with the Brawley Seismic Zone in the Imperial Valley. [6]

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the San Andreas system of faults spans offshore and into the East Bay area, with the bulk of the faults lying to the east of the main SAF. There is a 70% probability that one of these faults will generate a 6.7 Mw or greater earthquake before 2030, including the Hayward Fault Zone, which has gone beyond its average return period of 130 years (152 years ago as of June 2021). While the SAF north of San Francisco is quiet, the central SAF segment near San Juan Bautista is where fault creep was first studied, and to the south is where the recurring Parkfield earthquakes occur. The secondary faults lay to the west of the main SAF at the extreme southern portion, including the active and young San Jacinto Fault Zone, which may be taking over as the primary boundary south of Cajon Pass. A paleoseismic investigation using Lidar revealed that more than 5 meters (16 ft) of slip has accumulated since the 1857 event on the southern SAF, which borders the Mojave Desert to the north and east of the Greater Los Angeles Area. Near the Transverse Ranges, reverse and thrust faults have produced damaging earthquakes in Santa Barbara and the San Fernando Valley. [6]


San Francisco earthquake of 1989

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San Francisco earthquake of 1989, also called Loma Prieta earthquake, major earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay Area, California, U.S., on October 17, 1989, and caused 63 deaths, nearly 3,800 injuries, and an estimated $6 billion in property damage. It was the strongest earthquake to hit the area since the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

The earthquake was triggered by a slip along the San Andreas Fault. Its epicentre was in the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, near Loma Prieta peak in the Santa Cruz mountains, northeast of Santa Cruz and approximately 60 miles (100 km) south of San Francisco. It struck just after 5:00 pm local time and lasted approximately 15 seconds, with a moment magnitude of 6.9. The most severe damage was suffered by San Francisco and Oakland, but communities throughout the region, including Alameda, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Monterey, also were affected. San Francisco’s Marina district was particularly hard hit because it had been built on filled land (comprising loose, sandy soil), and the unreinforced masonry buildings in Santa Cruz (many of which were 50 to 100 years old) failed completely.

The earthquake significantly damaged the transportation system of the Bay Area. The collapse of the Cypress Street Viaduct (Nimitz Freeway) caused most of the earthquake-related deaths. The San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge was also damaged when a span of the top deck collapsed. In the aftermath, all bridges in the area underwent seismic retrofitting to make them more resistant to earthquakes.

Remarkably, the earthquake struck just before the start of the third game of the 1989 World Series, which was to be played in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park between the two Bay Area baseball teams, the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics. The disaster’s occurrence during a major live television broadcast meant that news of the earthquake, as well as aerial views provided by the Goodyear blimp, reached a large audience. The baseball championship, which was suspended for 10 days, would come to be known as the “Earthquake Series.”


Enrico Caruso was in Town

Considered by many to be the best operatic tenor of all time, Enrico Caruso was performing an opera on the evening before the earthquake in San Francisco. The following day he was stirred awake by the quaking he immediately looked out the window and saw a city in ruins—screaming people and collapsing buildings.

He vacated his hotel quickly, and somehow made his way to the Oakland Ferry amid the chaos. Months later, his first-hand account of the disaster was published in the [then] prominent Theatre magazine.


Contents

The earliest evidence of human habitation in what is now the city of San Francisco dates to 3000 BC. Native Americans who settled in this region found the bay to be a resource for hunting and gathering, leading to the establishment of many small villages. Collectively, these early Native Americans are now known as the Ohlone, and the language they spoke belonged to the Miwok family. Their trade patterns included places as far away as Baja California, the Mojave Desert and Yosemite. [2]

The earliest Europeans to reach the site of San Francisco were a Spanish exploratory party in 1769, led overland from Mexico by Don Gaspar de Portolá and Fra. Joan Crespí. The Spanish recognized the location, with its large natural harbor, to be of great strategic significance. A subsequent expedition, led by Juan Bautista de Anza, selected sites for military and religious settlements in 1774. The Presidio of San Francisco was established for the military, while Mission San Francisco de Asís began the cultural and religious conversion of some 10,000 Ohlone who lived in the area. [3] The mission became known as Mission Dolores, because of its nearness to a creek named after Our Lady of Sorrows.

The first anchorage was established at a small inlet on the north-east end of the peninsula (later filled: now lower Market Street), and the small settlement that grew up nearby was named Yerba Buena, after the herb of the same name that grew in abundance there. The original plaza of the Spanish settlement remains as Portsmouth Square. Today's city took its name from the mission, and Yerba Buena became the name of a San Francisco neighborhood now known as South of Market. The Moscone Center and Yerba Buena Gardens are in the Yerba Buena area. In addition, the name Yerba Buena was applied to the former Goat Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay, adjacent to Treasure Island. [ citation needed ]

San Francisco became part of the United States with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848.

European visitors to the San Francisco Bay Area were preceded at least 8,000 years earlier by Native Americans. According to one anthropologist, the indigenous name for San Francisco was Ahwaste, meaning, "place at the bay". [4] Linguistic and paleontological evidence is unclear as to whether the earliest inhabitants of the area now known as San Francisco were the ancestors of the Ohlone population encountered by the Spanish in the late 18th century. [5] The cultural unit, Ohlone, to which the San Francisco natives belonged did not recognize the city or county boundaries imposed later by Americans, and were part of a contiguous set of bands that lived from south of the Golden Gate to San José. [5]

When the Spanish arrived, they found the area inhabited by the Yelamu tribe, which belongs to a linguistic grouping later called the Ohlone. The Ohlone speakers are distinct from Pomo speakers north of the San Francisco Bay, and are part of the Miwok group of languages. Their traditional territory stretched from Big Sur to the San Francisco Bay, although their trading area was much larger. Miwok-speaking Indians also lived in Yosemite, and Ohlone-speakers intermarried with Chumash and Pomo speakers as well. [5]

The Spanish conquest of the San Francisco Bay area came later than to Southern California. San Francisco's characteristic foggy weather and geography led early European explorers such as Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo to bypass the Golden Gate and miss entering San Francisco Bay, although it seems clear from historical accounts of navigation that they passed close to the coastline north and south of the Golden Gate. [6]

A Spanish exploration party, led by Portolà and arriving on November 2, 1769, was the first documented European sighting of San Francisco Bay. Portolà claimed the area for Spain as part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. [7] Seven years later a Spanish mission, Mission San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores), was established by Fra. Junípero Serra, and a military fort was built, the Presidio of San Francisco. [8] [9]

In 1786 French explorer, the Comte de La Pérouse visited San Francisco and left a detailed account of it. [10] Six years later, in 1792 British explorer George Vancouver also stopped in San Francisco, in part, according to his journal, to spy on the Spanish settlements in the area. [11] [12] In addition to Western Europeans, Russian fur-traders also visited the area. From 1770 until about 1841, Russian traders colonized an area that ranged from Alaska south to Fort Ross in Sonoma County, California. The naming of San Francisco's Russian Hill neighborhood is attributed to the remains of Russian fur traders and sailors found there.

Upon independence from Spain in 1821, the area became part of Mexico. In 1835, Englishman William Richardson erected the first significant homestead outside the immediate vicinity of the Mission Dolores, [13] 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 after the herb, which was named by the missionaries that found it abundant nearby, began to attract American settlers. In 1838, Richardson petitioned and received a large land grant in Marin County and, in 1841, he moved there to take up residence at Rancho Sauselito. Richardson Bay to the north bears his name. [ citation needed ]

The British Empire briefly entertained the idea of purchasing the bay from Mexico in 1841, claiming it would "Secure to Great Britain all the advantages of the finest port in the Pacific for her commercial speculations in time of peace, and in war for more easily securing her maritime ascendency". However little came of this, and San Francisco would become a prize of the United States rather than that of British naval power. [14]

On July 31, 1846, Yerba Buena doubled in population when about 240 Mormon pioneers from the East coast arrived on the ship Brooklyn, led by Sam Brannan. Brannan, also a member of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, would later become well known for being the first publicist of the California Gold Rush of 1849 and the first millionaire resulting from it.

US Navy Commodore John D. Sloat claimed California for the United States on July 7, 1846, during the Mexican–American War, and US Navy Captain John Berrien Montgomery and US Marine Second Lieutenant Henry Bulls Watson of the USS Portsmouth arrived to claim Yerba Buena two days later by raising the flag over the town plaza, which is now Portsmouth Square in honor of the ship. Henry Bulls Watson was placed in command of the garrison there. In August 1846, Lt. Washington A. Bartlett was named alcalde of Yerba Buena. On January 30, 1847, Lt. Bartlett's proclamation changing the name Yerba Buena to San Francisco took effect. [15] [16] The city and the rest of California officially became American in 1848 by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican–American War. California was admitted to the U.S. as a state on September 9, 1850—the State of California soon chartered San Francisco and San Francisco County. At the time the county and city were not coterminous the county contained modern-day northern San Mateo County.

Situated at the tip of a windswept peninsula without water or firewood, San Francisco lacked most of the basic facilities for a 19th-century settlement. These natural disadvantages forced the town's residents to bring water, fuel and food to the site. The first of many environmental transformations was the city's reliance on filled marshlands for real estate. Much of the present downtown is built over the former Yerba Buena Cove, granted to the city by military governor Stephen Watts Kearny in 1847. [ citation needed ]

The California gold rush starting in 1848 led to a large boom in population, including considerable immigration. Between January 1848 and December 1849, the population of San Francisco increased from 1,000 to 25,000. The rapid growth continued through the 1850s and under the influence of the 1859 Comstock Lode silver discovery. This rapid growth complicated city planning efforts, leaving a legacy of narrow streets that continues to characterize the city to this day.

The population boom included many workers from China who came to work in the gold mines and later on the Transcontinental Railroad. The Chinatown district of the city became and is still one of the largest in the country today, as a result of that legacy, the city as a whole is roughly one-fifth Chinese, one of the largest concentrations outside of China. Many businesses founded to service the growing population exist today, notably Levi Strauss & Co. clothing, Ghirardelli chocolate, and Wells Fargo bank. Many famous railroad, banking, and mining tycoons or "robber barons" such as Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins, Collis P. Huntington, and Leland Stanford settled in the city in its Nob Hill neighborhood. The sites of their mansions are now famous and expensive San Francisco hotels (Mark Hopkins Hotel and the Huntington Hotel). [ citation needed ]

As in many mining towns, the social climate in early San Francisco was chaotic. Committees of Vigilance were formed in 1851, and again in 1856, in response to rising crime and government corruption. This popular militia movement arrested, tried, and executed a total of 12 men, arrested hundreds of Irishmen and government militia members, and forced several elected officials to resign. [ citation needed ] The Committee of Vigilance relinquished power both times after it decided the city had been "cleaned up." Mob activity later focused on Chinese immigrants, creating many race riots. [18] These riots culminated in the creation of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 that aimed to reduce Chinese immigration to the United States by limiting immigration to males and reducing numbers of immigrants allowed in the city. [19] [20] The law was not repealed until 1943 with the Magnuson Act.

San Francisco was the county seat of San Francisco County, one of state's 18 original counties since California's statehood in 1850. Until 1856, the city limits extended west to Divisadero Street and Castro Street, and south to 20th Street. In response to the lawlessness and vigilantism that escalated rapidly between 1855 and 1856, the California government decided to divide the county. A straight line was then drawn across the tip of the San Francisco Peninsula just north of San Bruno Mountain. Everything south of the line became San Mateo County while everything north of the line became the new consolidated City and County of San Francisco, to date the only consolidated city-county in California. [21] [22]

In autumn of 1855, a ship bearing refugees from an ongoing cholera epidemic in the Far East (authorities disagree as to whether this was the S.S. Sam or the S.S. Carolina but primary documents indicate that the Carolina was involved in the epidemic of 1850 and the SS Uncle Sam in the epidemic of 1855) docked in San Francisco. Since the city's rapid Gold Rush population growth had significantly outstripped the development of infrastructure, including sanitation, a serious cholera epidemic quickly broke out. The responsibility for caring for the indigent sick had previously rested on the state, but faced with the San Francisco cholera epidemic, the state legislature devolved this responsibility to the counties, setting the precedent for California's system of county hospitals for the poor still in effect today. The Sisters of Mercy were contracted to run San Francisco's first county hospital, the State Marine and County Hospital, due to their efficiency in handling the cholera epidemic of 1855. By 1857, the order opened St. Mary's Hospital on Stockton Street, the first Catholic hospital west of the Rocky Mountains. In 1905, The Sisters of Mercy purchased a lot at Fulton and Stanyan Streets, the current location of St. Mary's Medical Center, the oldest continually operating hospital in San Francisco. [ citation needed ]

Due to the Gold Rush, and despite the Vigilantes, and the gradual implementation of law and order in San Francisco, its red-light district at the time became known as the Barbary Coast which became a hotbed of gambling, prostitution and most notoriously for Shanghaiing. It is now overlapped by Chinatown, North Beach, Jackson Square, and the Financial District.

It was during the 1860s to the 1880s when San Francisco began to transform into a major city, starting with massive expansion in all directions, creating new neighborhoods such as the Western Addition, the Haight-Ashbury, Eureka Valley, the Mission District, culminating in the construction of Golden Gate Park in 1887. In 1864 Hugh H. Toland, a South Carolina surgeon who found great success and wealth after moving to San Francisco, founded the Toland Medical College, which became one of three affiliated colleges, which later developed into the University of California, San Francisco. Initially, the affiliated colleges were located at different sites around San Francisco, but near the end of the 19th century interest in bringing them together grew. To make this possible, San Francisco Mayor Adolph Sutro donated 13 acres in Parnassus Heights at the base of Mount Parnassus (now known as Mount Sutro). The new site, overlooking Golden Gate Park, opened in the fall of 1898, with the construction of the new affiliated colleges buildings.

The city's famous cable cars were built around this time, a unique invention devised by Andrew Smith Hallidie in order to traverse the city's steep hills while connecting the new residential developments. San Francisco grew in cultural prominence at this time as famous writers Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Ambrose Bierce, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Oscar Wilde spent time in the city, while local characters developed such as Emperor Norton. [ citation needed ] The San Francisco Stock and Bond Exchange was founded in 1882. [23]

By the 1890s, much like across the United States, San Francisco was suffering from machine politics and corruption, and was ripe for political reform. Adolph Sutro ran for mayor in 1894 under the auspices of the Populist Party and won handily without campaigning. Unfortunately, except for the Sutro Baths, Mayor Sutro substantially failed in his efforts to improve the city. [ citation needed ] The next mayor, James D. Phelan elected in 1896, was more successful, pushing through a new city charter that allowed for the ability to raise funds through bond issues. He got bonds passed to construct a new sewer system, 17 new schools, two parks, a hospital, and a main library. After leaving office in 1901, Phelan became interested in remaking San Francisco into a grand and modern Paris of the West. [ citation needed ]

In 1900, a ship brought with it rats infected with bubonic plague to initiate the San Francisco plague of 1900–1904 the first plague epidemic in the continental U.S. Mistakenly believing that interred corpses contributed to the transmission of plague, and possibly motivated by the opportunity for profitable land speculation, city leaders banned all burials within the city. Cemeteries moved to the undeveloped area just south of the city limit, now the town of Colma, California. A 15-block section of Chinatown was quarantined while city leaders squabbled over the proper course to take, but the outbreak finally was eradicated by 1905. However, the problem of existing cemeteries and the shortage of land in the city remained. In 1912 (with fights extending until 1942), all remaining cemeteries in the city were evicted to Colma, where the dead now outnumber the living by more than 1,000 to one. The above-ground Columbarium of San Francisco was allowed to remain, as well as the historic cemetery at Mission Dolores, the grave of Thomas Starr King at the Unitarian Church, and the San Francisco National Cemetery at the Presidio of San Francisco. [24]

Mayor Eugene Schmitz, president of the Musician's Union, was chosen by political leader Abe Ruef to run for mayor as a front for the Union Labor Party in 1901. He and Ruef had been friends for 18 years. [25] Ruef contributed $16,000 (about $461,000 today) to Schmitz' campaign [26] : p14 and used his considerable influence to make sure Schmitz was selected to front for the new Union Labor Party. [26] [27] [28] Ruef wrote the Union Labor Party's platform and built a strong, behind-the-scenes network of supporters, including the more than 5,000 saloon keepers and another 2,000 bartenders in San Francisco, who all influenced political discussions in their saloons. [28]

Schmitz was less corrupt than the mayors who preceded him, [29] but he had to deal with Ruef who operated from his offices at California and Kearney Streets. He wrote most of the mayor's official papers and conducted an ongoing series of meetings with Mayor Schmitz, city commissioners, officials, seekers of favors or jobs, and others. Officially an unpaid attorney for the mayor's office, he was the power behind the mayor's chair. [28]

Former Mayor Phelan, in concert with Rudolph Spreckels, president of the San Francisco First National Bank, and Fremont Older, editor of the San Francisco Bulletin, decided to try to challenge the Labor Party's corrupt choke-hold on city politics and commerce. [29] They got Francis Heney, a U.S. special prosecutor, to help with the investigation and prosecution. Heney eventually charged Ruef and Schmitz with numerous counts of bribery and brought them to trial.

On June 13, 1907, Mayor E. E. Schmitz was found guilty of extortion and the office of Mayor was declared vacant. He was sent to jail to await sentence. Shortly thereafter he was sentenced to five years at San Quentin State Prison, the maximum sentence the law allowed. He immediately appealed. While awaiting the outcome of the appeal, Schmitz was kept in a cell in San Francisco County Jail. [30] Dr. Edward R. Taylor, Dean of Hastings College, agreed to step in as interim mayor and was given power to appoint new supervisors to replace those who had resigned. [26] Ruef was found guilty and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. In November 1910, his conviction and sentence were finally upheld, and on March 1, 1911, he entered prison. [26] [28] On August 23, 1915, having served a little more than four and a half of his fourteen-year sentence, he was released. He was the only person in the entire investigation who went to prison. He was not allowed to return to his legal practice. "Before he went to prison he had been worth over a million dollars, when he died he was bankrupt." [31] : 257

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 quake is estimated by the USGS to have had a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale. Water mains ruptured throughout San Francisco, and the fires that followed burned out of control for days, destroying approximately 80% of the city, including almost all of the downtown core. Many residents were trapped between the water on three sides and the approaching fire, and a mass evacuation across the Bay saved thousands. Refugee camps were also set up in Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach, and other undeveloped sections of the city. The official death toll at the time was 478, although it was officially revised in 2005 to 3,000+. The initial low death toll was concocted by civic, state, and federal officials who felt that reporting the actual numbers would hurt rebuilding and redevelopment efforts, as well as city and national morale. [ citation needed ] The death toll from this event had the highest number of deaths from a natural disaster in California history.

Reconstruction Edit

Almost immediately after the quake re-planning and reconstruction plans were hatched to quickly rebuild the city. One of the more famous and ambitious plans, proposed before the fire, came from famed urban planner, Daniel Burnham. His bold plan called for Haussmann style avenues, boulevards, and arterial thoroughfares that radiated across the city, a massive civic center complex with classical structures, what would have been the largest urban park in the world, stretching from Twin Peaks to Lake Merced with a large athenaeum at its peak, and various other proposals. This plan was dismissed by critics (both at the time and now), as impractical and unrealistic to municipal supply and demand. Property owners and the Real Estate industry were against the idea as well due to the amounts of their land the city would have to purchase to realize such proposals. While the original street grid was restored, many of Burnham's proposals eventually saw the light of day such as a neo-classical civic center complex, wider streets, a preference of arterial thoroughfares, a subway under Market Street, a more people-friendly Fisherman's Wharf, and a monument to the city on Telegraph Hill, Coit Tower. [ citation needed ] With many rats and people displaced, a minor outbreak of plague occurred in San Francisco and Oakland during reconstruction, but unlike the 1901-1904 outbreak, government authorities responded quickly. [32]

"Greater San Francisco" movement of 1912 Edit

In 1912, there was a movement to create a Greater San Francisco in which southern Marin County, the part of Alameda County which includes Oakland, Piedmont and Berkeley, and northern San Mateo County from San Bruno northwards would have become outer Boroughs of San Francisco, with the City and County of San Francisco functioning as Manhattan, based on the New York City model. East Bay opposition defeated the San Francisco expansion plan in the California legislature, and later attempts at San Francisco Bay Area metropolitan area consolidation in 1917, 1923, and 1928 also failed to be implemented. [33] [34]

In 1915, the city hosted the Panama–Pacific International Exposition, officially to celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal, but also as a showcase of the vibrant completely rebuilt city less than a decade after the earthquake. After the exposition ended, all of its grand buildings were demolished except for the rebuilt Palace of Fine Arts which survives today in an abbreviated form, while the remainder of the fairgrounds were re-developed into the Marina District. [ citation needed ]

1934 saw San Francisco become the center of the West Coast waterfront strike. The strike lasted eighty-three days and saw the deaths of two workers, but the result led to the unionization of all of the West Coast ports of the United States. [ citation needed ]

The San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge was opened in 1936 and the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937. The 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition was held on Treasure Island. 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. [ citation needed ]

During World War II, San Francisco was the major mainland supply point and port of embarkation for the war in the Pacific. It also saw the largest and oldest enclave of Japanese outside of Japan, Japantown, completely remove all of its ethnic Japanese residents as a result of Executive Order 9066 that forced all Japanese of birth or descent in the United States to be interned. By 1943 many large sections of the neighborhood remained vacant due to the forced internment.

The void was quickly filled by thousands of African Americans who had left the South to find wartime industrial jobs in California as part of the Great Migration. Many African Americans also settled in the Fillmore District and most notably near the Bayview-Hunters Point shipyards, working in the dry-docks there. The same docks at Hunters Point would be used for loading the key fissile components of the first atomic bomb onto the USS Indianapolis in July 1945 for transfer to Tinian. [ citation needed ]

The War Memorial Opera House which opened in 1932, was the site of some significant post World War II history. In 1945, the conference that formed the United Nations was held there, with the UN Charter being signed nearby in the Herbst Theatre on June 26. Additionally the Treaty of San Francisco which formally ended war with Japan and established peaceful relations, was drafted and signed here six years later in 1951. [ citation needed ]

After World War II, many American military personnel, who fell in love with the city while leaving for or returning from the Pacific, settled in the city, prompting the creation of the Sunset District, Visitacion Valley, and the total build out of San Francisco. During this period, Caltrans commenced an aggressive freeway construction program in the Bay Area. However, Caltrans soon encountered strong resistance in San Francisco, for the city's high population density meant that virtually any right-of-way would displace a large number of people. Caltrans tried to minimize displacement (and its land acquisition costs) by building double-decker freeways, but the crude state of civil engineering at that time resulted in construction of some embarrassingly ugly freeways which ultimately turned out to be seismically unsafe. In 1959, the Board of Supervisors voted to halt construction of any more freeways in the city, an event known as the Freeway Revolt. [35] Although some minor modifications have been allowed to the ends of existing freeways, the city's anti-freeway policy has remained in place ever since. [ citation needed ]

The San Francisco Mental Hygiene Society was formed in 1947. In 1958 the New York Giants moved to San Francisco and became the San Francisco Giants. Their first stadium, Candlestick Park, was constructed in 1959.

Urban renewal Edit

In the 1950s San Francisco mayor George Christopher hired M. Justin Herman to head the redevelopment agency for the city and county. Justin Herman began an aggressive campaign to tear down blighted areas of the city that were really working class, non-white neighborhoods. Enacting eminent domain whenever necessary, he set upon a plan to tear down huge areas of the city and replace them with modern construction. Critics accused Herman of racism for what was perceived as attempts to create segregation and displacement of blacks. Many black residents were forced to move from their homes near the Fillmore jazz district to newly constructed projects such as near the naval base at Hunter's Point or even to other cities such as Oakland. He began leveling entire areas in San Francisco's Western Addition and Japantown neighborhoods. Herman also completed the final removal of the produce district below Telegraph Hill, moving the produce merchants to the Alemany Boulevard site. His planning led to the creation of Embarcadero Center, the Embarcadero Freeway, Japantown, the Geary Street superblocks, and eventually Yerba Buena Gardens. [ citation needed ]

"Summer of Love" and counterculture movement Edit

Following World War II, San Francisco became a magnet for America's counterculture. During the 1950s, City Lights Bookstore in the North Beach neighborhood was an important publisher of Beat Generation literature. Some of the story of the evolving arts scene of the 1950s is told in the article San Francisco Renaissance. During the latter half of the following decade, the 1960s, San Francisco was the center of hippie and other alternative culture. [ citation needed ]

In 1967, thousands of young people entered the Haight-Ashbury district during what became known as the Summer of Love. The San Francisco Sound emerged as an influential force in rock music, with such acts as Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead achieving international prominence. These groups blurred the boundaries between folk, rock and jazz traditions and further developed rock's lyrical content. [ citation needed ]

Rise of the "Gay Mecca" Edit

San Francisco's frontier spirit and wild and ribald character started its reputation as a gay mecca in the first half of the 20th century. World War II saw a jump in the gay population when the US military actively sought out and dishonorably discharged homosexuals. From 1941 to 1945, more than 9,000 gay servicemen and women were discharged, and many were processed out in San Francisco. [36] The late 1960s also brought in a new wave of lesbians and gays who were more radical and less mainstream and who had flocked to San Francisco not only for its gay-friendly reputation, but for its reputation as a radical, left-wing center. These new residents were the prime movers of Gay Liberation and often lived communally, buying decrepit Victorians in the Haight and fixing them up. When drugs and violence began to become a serious problem in the Haight, many lesbians and gays simply moved "over the hill" to the Castro replacing Irish-Americans who had moved to the more affluent and culturally homogeneous suburbs. [ citation needed ]

The Castro became known as a Gay Mecca, and its gay population swelled as significant numbers of gay people moved to San Francisco in the 1970s and 1980s. The growth of the gay population caused tensions with some of the established ethnic groups in the southern part of the city. On November 27, 1978 Dan White, a former member of the Board of Supervisors and former police officer, assassinated the city's mayor George Moscone and San Francisco's first openly gay elected official, Supervisor Harvey Milk. The murders and the subsequent trial were marked both by candlelight vigils and homosexual riots. In the 1980s, HIV (formerly called LAV, HTLV-III, also known as AIDS virus) created havoc in the gay community. The gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender population of the city is still the highest of any major metropolitan area in the United States. [37]

New public infrastructure Edit

The 1970s also brought other major changes to the city such as the construction of its first subway system, BART, which connects San Francisco with other cities in the Bay Area it was installed in 1972. At stations in downtown San Francisco, BART connects with Muni, the city subway, which has lines that run underground along Market Street, and then along surface streets through much of the city. San Francisco's second tallest building, the Transamerica Pyramid was also completed during that year.

During the administration of Mayor Dianne Feinstein (1978–1988), San Francisco saw a development boom referred to as "Manhattanization." Many large skyscrapers were built—primarily in the Financial District—but the boom also included high-rise condominiums in some residential neighborhoods. An opposition movement gained traction among those who felt the skyscrapers ruined views and destroyed San Francisco's unique character. Similar to the freeway revolt in the city decades earlier, a "skyscraper revolt" forced the city to embed height restrictions in the planning code. For many years, the limits slowed construction of new skyscrapers. She had also spearheaded the development and construction of the city's convention center, the Moscone Center, preserved and renovated the city's Cable Cars, and attracted the 1984 Democratic National Convention. [ citation needed ]

During the early 1980s, homeless people began appearing in large numbers in the city, the result of multiple factors including the closing of state institutions for the mentally ill, the Reagan administration reducing Section 8 housing benefits, and social changes which increased the availability of addictive drugs. Combined with San Francisco's attractive environment and generous welfare policies the problem soon became endemic. [ citation needed ] Mayor Art Agnos (1988–92) was the first to attack the problem, and not the last it is a top issue for San Franciscans even today. His program, Beyond Shelter, became the basis for federal programs and was recognized by Harvard for Innovations in Local Government. [ citation needed ] Agnos allowed the homeless to camp in the Civic Center park after the Loma Prieta earthquake that made over 1,000 SRO's [ clarification needed ] uninhabitable, which led to its title of "Camp Agnos." His opponent used this to attack Agnos in 1991, an election Agnos lost. Frank Jordan launched the "MATRIX" program the next year, which aimed to displace the homeless through aggressive police action. And it did displace them-to the rest of the city. His successor, Willie Lewis Brown Jr., was able to largely ignore the problem, riding on the strong economy into a second term. Later, mayor Gavin Newsom created the controversial "Care Not Cash" program and policy on the homeless, which calls for ending the city's generous welfare policies towards the homeless and instead placing them in affordable housing and requiring them to attend city funded drug rehabilitation and job training programs. [ citation needed ]

In August 1989, San Francisco was surpassed for the first time in population by San Jose (located in Silicon Valley), the world center of the computer industry. San Jose has continued since then to grow in population since it is surrounded by large tracts of developable land. Thus, San Francisco is now the second largest city in population in the San Francisco Bay Area after San Jose. [ citation needed ]

1989 Loma Prieta earthquake Edit

On October 17, 1989, an earthquake measuring 6.9 on the moment magnitude scale struck on the San Andreas Fault near Loma Prieta Peak in the Santa Cruz mountains, approximately 70 miles (113 km) south of San Francisco, a few minutes before Game 3 of the 1989 World Series was scheduled to begin at Candlestick Park. The quake severely damaged many of the city's freeways including the Embarcadero Freeway and the Central Freeway. Mayor Agnos made the controversial decision to tear down the Embarcadero Freeway, opening the waterfront but eventually shifting Chinatown voters away from him and costing him re-election in 1991. The quake also caused extensive damage in the Marina District and the South of Market neighborhoods.

The 1990s saw the demolition of the quake damaged Embarcadero and Central Freeway, restoring the once blighted Hayes Valley as well as the city's waterfront promenade, The Embarcadero. In 1994 as part of the Base Realignment and Closure plan, the former military base of San Francisco Naval Shipyard in Bayview-Hunters Point was closed and returned to the city while the Presidio was turned over to the National Park Service and since converted into a national park. [ citation needed ]

In 1996, the city elected its first African American mayor, former Speaker of the California State Assembly, Willie Brown. Brown called for expansions to the San Francisco budget to provide for new employees and programs. During Brown's tenure, San Francisco's budget increased to US$5.2 billion and the city added 4,000 new employees. His tenure saw the development and construction of the new Mission Bay neighborhood, and a baseball stadium for the Giants, AT&T Park which was 100% privately financed. [ citation needed ]

In 1997, the Pinecrest Diner, a popular all-night diner-style restaurant in San Francisco, became notorious for a murder over an order of eggs. [38]

Dot-com boom Edit

During the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, large numbers of entrepreneurs and computer software professionals moved into the city, followed by marketing and sales professionals, and changed the social landscape as once poorer neighborhoods became gentrified. The rising rents forced many people, families, and businesses to leave. San Francisco has the smallest share of children of any major U.S. city, with the city's 18 and under population at just 13.4 percent. [39]

In 2001, the markets crashed, the boom ended, and many left San Francisco. South of Market, where many dot-com(.com) companies were located, had been bustling [ citation needed ] and crowded with few vacancies, but by 2002 was a virtual wasteland [ citation needed ] of empty offices and for-rent signs. Much of the boom was blamed for the city's "fastest shrinking population", reducing the city's population by 30,000 in just a few years. While the bust helped put an ease on the city's apartment rents, the city remained expensive. [ citation needed ]

By 2003, the city's economy had recovered from the dot-com crash thanks to a resurgent international tourist industry and the Web 2.0 boom that saw the creation of many new internet and software start-up companies in the city, attracting white-collar workers, recent University graduates, and young adults from all over the world. [40] [41] Residential demand as well as rents rose again, and as a result city officials relaxed building height restrictions and zoning codes to construct residential condominiums in SOMA such as One Rincon Hill, 300 Spear Street, and Millennium Tower, although the late 2000s recession has indefinitely halted many construction projects such as Rincon Hill. [42] Part of this development included the reconstruction of the Transbay Terminal Replacement Project.

The early 2000s and into the 2010s saw the redevelopment of the Mission Bay neighborhood. Originally an industrial district, it underwent development fueled by the construction of the University of California, San Francisco Mission Bay campus and its UCSF Medical Center, and is currently an up-and-coming neighborhood, undergoing development and construction. It has rapidly evolved into a wealthy neighborhood of luxury condominiums, hospitals, and biotechnology research and development. It is also the site of the Chase Center, the arena of the Golden State Warriors and the new Uber headquarters.

2010 saw the San Francisco Giants win their first World Series title since moving from New York City in 1958. The estimated 1 million people who attended their victory parade is considered one of the largest in city history. [43] 2012 saw the Giants win their second title in San Francisco, and 2014 saw them win their third. Celebrations citywide were marred by rioting which caused millions of dollars in property damage. [44] [45]

In 2011, city manager Edwin Lee was elected the first Chinese American mayor in any American major city. Mayor Lee has been a strong proponent of tenant's rights, but also a business-friendly mayor to the city's burgeoning tech community. [ citation needed ]

By 2013, San Francisco, with thanks from the Web 2.0 boom, had fully recovered from the late 2000s recession and is experiencing a real estate and population boom. The computer industry is moving north from Silicon Valley. Availability of vacant rental units is scarce and the prices for vacant units has increased dramatically, and as of 2015 is reported to be the highest in the nation. [46]

In April 2016, the city passed a law requiring all new buildings below 10 stories to have rooftop solar panels, making it the first major US city to do so. [47]

In 2018, San Francisco Supervisor London Breed was elected mayor.

On March 16, 2020, San Francisco was hardest-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which put tens of thousands of residents out of work, and shifted others to work at home. Rent prices fell and vacancies increased. [48] [49]


Contents

The earliest archaeological evidence of human habitation of the territory of the city of San Francisco dates to 3000 BC. [38] The Yelamu group of the Ohlone people resided in a few small villages when an overland Spanish exploration party, led by Don Gaspar de Portolá, arrived on November 2, 1769, the first documented European visit to San Francisco Bay. [39] The first maritime presence occurred on August 5, 1775, when San Carlos—commanded by Juan Manuel de Ayala—became the first ship to anchor in the bay. [40] The following year, on March 28, 1776, the Spanish established the Presidio of San Francisco, followed by a mission, Mission San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores), established by the Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza. [3]

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, William Richardson, a naturalized Mexican citizen of English birth, erected the first independent homestead, [41] 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, and Mexico officially ceded the territory to the United States at the end of the war in 1848. Despite its attractive location as a port and naval base, San Francisco was still a small settlement with inhospitable geography. [42]

The California Gold Rush brought a flood of treasure seekers (known as "forty-niners", as in "1849"). With their sourdough bread in tow, [44] prospectors accumulated in San Francisco over rival Benicia, [45] raising the population from 1,000 in 1848 to 25,000 by December 1849. [46] The promise of great wealth 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. [47] Some of these approximately 500 abandoned ships were used at times as storeships, saloons, and hotels many were left to rot and some were sunk to establish title to the underwater lot. By 1851, the harbor was extended out into the bay by wharves while buildings were erected on piles among the ships. By 1870, Yerba Buena Cove had been filled to create new land. Buried ships are occasionally exposed when foundations are dug for new buildings. [48]

California was quickly granted statehood in 1850, 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 Nevada in 1859, further drove rapid population growth. [49] 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. [50]

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 [51] ) 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. Chinese immigrants made the city a polyglot culture, drawn to "Old Gold Mountain", creating the city's Chinatown quarter. In 1870, Asians made up 8% of the population. [52] 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. [53] By 1890, San Francisco's population approached 300,000, making it the eighth-largest city in the United States 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. [54] The first North American plague epidemic was the San Francisco plague of 1900–1904. [55]

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. [56] More than three-quarters of the city lay in ruins, including almost all of the downtown core. [30] Contemporary accounts reported that 498 people lost their lives, though modern estimates put the number in the several thousands. [57] More than half of the city's population of 400,000 was left homeless. [58] 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. [60] 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. [61] The earthquake hastened development of western neighborhoods that survived the fire, including Pacific Heights, where many of the city's wealthy rebuilt their homes. [62] In turn, the destroyed mansions of Nob Hill became grand hotels. City Hall rose again in splendid Beaux Arts style, and the city celebrated its rebirth at the Panama–Pacific International Exposition in 1915. [63]

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. [64] 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. [65] 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. [ citation needed ]

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. [31] 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 United Nations Charter creating the United Nations was drafted and signed in San Francisco in 1945 and, in 1951, the Treaty of San Francisco re-established peaceful relations between Japan and the Allied Powers. [66]

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. [67] The onset of containerization made San Francisco's small piers obsolete, and cargo activity moved to the larger Port of Oakland. [68] The city began to lose industrial jobs and turned to tourism as the most important segment of its economy. [69] 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. [70] [71] 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. [72] Hippies flocked to Haight-Ashbury in the 1960s, reaching a peak with the 1967 Summer of Love. [73] In 1974, the Zebra murders left at least 16 people dead. [74] 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. [75]

Bank of America completed 555 California Street in 1969 and the Transamerica Pyramid was completed in 1972, [76] igniting a wave of "Manhattanization" that lasted until the late 1980s, a period of extensive high-rise development downtown. [77] 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. [78] 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 The Embarcadero as its historic downtown waterfront and revitalizing the Hayes Valley neighborhood. [ citation needed ]

Two recent decades have seen two booms driven by the internet industry. First was the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, startup companies invigorated the San Francisco 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. [79] Demand for new housing and office space ignited a second wave of high-rise development, this time in the South of Market district. [80] 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. By the mid-2000s (decade), the social media boom had begun, with San Francisco becoming a popular location for tech offices and a common place to live for people employed in Silicon Valley companies such as Apple and Google. [81]

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 islands—Alcatraz, 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 km 2 ).

There are more than 50 hills within the city limits. [82] 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 an overlook spot. San Francisco's tallest hill, Mount Davidson, is 928 feet (283 m) high and is capped with a 103-foot (31 m) tall cross built in 1934. [83] 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. [84] However, there are still thousands of smaller buildings that remain vulnerable to quake damage. [85] USGS has released the California earthquake forecast which models earthquake occurrence in California. [86]

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 the excavation of the Yerba Buena Tunnel through Yerba Buena Island during the construction of the Bay Bridge. Such land tends to be unstable during earthquakes. The resulting soil liquefaction causes extensive damage to property built upon it, as was evidenced in the Marina district during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. [87] 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. [88]

Cityscape Edit

Neighborhoods Edit

The historic center of San Francisco is the northeast quadrant of the city anchored by Market Street and the waterfront. It is here that the Financial District is centered, with Union Square, the principal shopping and hotel district, and the Tenderloin nearby. Cable cars carry riders up steep inclines to the summit of Nob Hill, once the home of the city's business tycoons, and down to the waterfront tourist attractions of Fisherman's Wharf, and Pier 39, where many restaurants feature Dungeness crab from a still-active fishing industry. Also in this quadrant are Russian Hill, a residential neighborhood with the famously crooked Lombard Street North Beach, the city's Little Italy and the former center of the Beat Generation and Telegraph Hill, which features Coit Tower. Abutting Russian Hill and North Beach is San Francisco's Chinatown, the oldest Chinatown in North America. [89] [90] [91] [92] The South of Market, which was once San Francisco's industrial core, has seen significant redevelopment following the construction of Oracle Park and an infusion of startup companies. New skyscrapers, live-work lofts, and condominiums dot the area. Further development is taking place just to the south in Mission Bay area, a former railroad yard, which now has a second campus of the University of California, San Francisco and Chase Center, which opened in 2019 as the new home of the Golden State Warriors. [93]

West of downtown, across Van Ness Avenue, lies the large Western Addition neighborhood, which became established with a large African American population after World War II. The Western Addition is usually divided into smaller neighborhoods including Hayes Valley, the Fillmore, and Japantown, which was once the largest Japantown in North America but suffered when its Japanese American residents were forcibly removed and interned during World War II. The Western Addition survived the 1906 earthquake with its Victorians largely intact, including the famous "Painted Ladies", standing alongside Alamo Square. To the south, near the geographic center of the city is Haight-Ashbury, famously associated with 1960s hippie culture. [ citation needed ] The Haight is now home to some expensive boutiques [94] and a few controversial chain stores, [95] although it still retains some bohemian character.

North of the Western Addition is Pacific Heights, an affluent neighborhood that features the homes built by wealthy San Franciscans in the wake of the 1906 earthquake. Directly north of Pacific Heights facing the waterfront is the Marina, a neighborhood popular with young professionals that was largely built on reclaimed land from the Bay. [96]

In the south-east quadrant of the city is the Mission District—populated in the 19th century by Californios and working-class immigrants from Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Scandinavia. In the 1910s, a wave of Central American immigrants settled in the Mission and, in the 1950s, immigrants from Mexico began to predominate. [97] In recent years, gentrification has changed the demographics of parts of the Mission from Latino, to twenty-something professionals. Noe Valley to the southwest and Bernal Heights to the south are both increasingly popular among young families with children. East of the Mission is the Potrero Hill neighborhood, a mostly residential neighborhood that features sweeping views of downtown San Francisco. West of the Mission, the area historically known as Eureka Valley, now popularly called the Castro, was once a working-class Scandinavian and Irish area. It has become North America's first gay village, and is now the center of gay life in the city. [98] Located near the city's southern border, the Excelsior District is one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in San Francisco. The predominantly African American Bayview-Hunters Point in the far southeast corner of the city is one of the poorest neighborhoods and suffers from a high rate of crime, though the area has been the focus of several revitalizing and controversial urban renewal projects.

The construction of the Twin Peaks Tunnel in 1918 connected southwest neighborhoods to downtown via streetcar, hastening the development of West Portal, and nearby affluent Forest Hill and St. Francis Wood. Further west, stretching all the way to the Pacific Ocean and north to Golden Gate Park lies the vast Sunset District, a large middle-class area with a predominantly Asian population. [99]

The northwestern quadrant of the city contains the Richmond, also a mostly middle-class neighborhood north of Golden Gate Park, home to immigrants from other parts of Asia as well as many Russian and Ukrainian immigrants. Together, these areas are known as The Avenues. These two districts are each sometimes further divided into two regions: the Outer Richmond and Outer Sunset can refer to the more western portions of their respective district and the Inner Richmond and Inner Sunset can refer to the more eastern portions.

Many piers remained derelict for years until the demolition of the Embarcadero Freeway reopened the downtown waterfront, allowing for redevelopment. The centerpiece of the port, the Ferry Building, while still receiving commuter ferry traffic, has been restored and redeveloped as a gourmet marketplace.

Climate Edit

San Francisco has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb) characteristic of California's coast, with moist mild winters and dry summers. [100] San Francisco's weather is strongly influenced by the cool currents of the Pacific Ocean on the west side of the city, and the water of San Francisco Bay to the north and east. This moderates temperature swings and produces a remarkably mild year-round climate with little seasonal temperature variation. [ citation needed ]

Among major U.S. cities, San Francisco has the coolest daily mean, maximum, and minimum temperatures for June, July, and August. [101] 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. [102] The fog is less pronounced in eastern neighborhoods and during the late summer and early fall. As a result, the year's warmest month, on average, is September, and on average, October is warmer than July, especially in daytime.

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 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. [ citation needed ]

Temperatures reach or exceed 80 °F (27 °C) on an average of only 21 and 23 days a year at downtown and San Francisco International Airport (SFO), respectively. [103] The dry period of May to October is mild to warm, with the normal monthly mean temperature peaking in September at 62.7 °F (17.1 °C). [103] The rainy period of November to April is slightly cooler, with the normal monthly mean temperature reaching its lowest in January at 51.3 °F (10.7 °C). [103] On average, there are 73 rainy days a year, and annual precipitation averages 23.65 inches (601 mm). [103] Variation in precipitation from year to year is high. Above average rain years are often associated with warm El Niño conditions in the Pacific while dry years often occur in cold water La Niña periods. In 2013 (a "La Niña" year), a record low 5.59 in (142 mm) of rainfall was recorded at downtown San Francisco, where records have been kept since 1849. [103] Snowfall in the city is very rare, with only 10 measurable accumulations recorded since 1852, most recently in 1976 when up to 5 inches (13 cm) fell on Twin Peaks. [104] [105]

The highest recorded temperature at the official National Weather Service downtown observation station [a] was 106 °F (41 °C) on September 1, 2017. [107] The lowest recorded temperature was 27 °F (−3 °C) on December 11, 1932. [108] The National Weather Service provides a helpful visual aid [109] graphing the information in the table below to display visually by month the annual typical temperatures, the past year's temperatures, and record temperatures.

San Francisco falls under the USDA 10b Plant hardiness zone. [110] [111]

Flora and fauna Edit

Historically, tule elk were present in San Francisco County, based on archeological evidence of elk remains in at least five different Native American shellmounds: at Hunter's Point, Fort Mason, Stevenson Street, Market Street, and Yerba Buena. [116] [117] Perhaps the first historical observer record was from the De Anza Expedition on March 23, 1776. Herbert Eugene Bolton wrote about the expedition camp at Mountain Lake, near the southern end of today's Presidio: "Round about were grazing deer, and scattered here and there were the antlers of large elk." [118] Also, when Richard Henry Dana Jr. visited San Francisco Bay in 1835, he wrote about vast elk herds near the Golden Gate: on December 27 ". we came to anchor near the mouth of the bay, under a high and beautifully sloping hill, upon which herds of hundreds and hundreds of red deer [note: "red deer" is the European term for "elk"], and the stag, with his high branching antlers, were bounding about. ", although it is not clear whether this was the Marin side or the San Francisco side. [119]

Historical population
YearPop. ±%
18481,000
184925,000+2400.0%
185234,776+39.1%
186056,802+63.3%
1870149,473+163.1%
1880233,959+56.5%
1890298,997+27.8%
1900342,782+14.6%
1910416,912+21.6%
1920506,676+21.5%
1930634,394+25.2%
1940634,536+0.0%
1950775,357+22.2%
1960740,316−4.5%
1970715,674−3.3%
1980678,974−5.1%
1990723,959+6.6%
2000776,733+7.3%
2010805,235+3.7%
2019881,549+9.5%
Source: U.S. Decennial Census, [120] [15] [46] [121] [122]

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates San Francisco's population to be 881,549 as of July 1, 2019, with a population density of 18,838/sq mi. [15] With roughly one-quarter the population density of Manhattan, San Francisco is the second-most densely populated large American city, behind only New York City among cities greater than 200,000 population, and the fifth-most densely populated U.S. county, following only four of the five New York City boroughs.

San Francisco forms part of the five-county San Francisco–Oakland–Hayward, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area, a region of 4.7 million people, and has served as its traditional demographic focal point. It is also part of the greater 14-county San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area, whose population is over 9.6 million, making it the fifth-largest in the United States as of 2018. [15]

Race, ethnicity, religion, and languages Edit

San Francisco has a majority minority population, as non-Hispanic whites comprise less than half of the population, 41.9%, down from 92.5% in 1940. [52] As of the 2010 census, the ethnic makeup and population of San Francisco included: 390,387 Whites (48%), 267,915 Asians (33%), 48,870 African Americans (6%), and others. There were 121,744 Hispanics or Latinos of any race (15%).

In 2010, residents of Chinese ethnicity constituted the largest single ethnic minority group in San Francisco at 21% of the population the other Asian groups are Filipinos (5%) and Vietnamese (2%). [123] The population of Chinese ancestry is most heavily concentrated in Chinatown, Sunset District, and Richmond District, whereas Filipinos are most concentrated in the Crocker-Amazon (which is contiguous with the Filipino community of Daly City, which has one of the highest concentrations of Filipinos in North America), as well as in SoMa. [123] [124] The Tenderloin District is home to a large portion of the city's Vietnamese population as well as businesses and restaurants, which is known as the city's Little Saigon. [123]

The principal Hispanic groups in the city were those of Mexican (7%) and Salvadoran (2%) ancestry. The Hispanic population is most heavily concentrated in the Mission District, Tenderloin District, and Excelsior District. [125] The city's percentage of Hispanic residents is less than half of that of the state. The population of African Americans in San Francisco is 6% of the city's population. [52] [126] The percentage of African Americans in San Francisco is similar to that of California. [126] The majority of the city's black population reside within the neighborhoods of Bayview-Hunters Point, Visitacion Valley, and in the Fillmore District. [125]

According to a 2014 study by the Pew Research Center, the largest religious groupings in San Francisco's metropolitan area are Christians (48%), followed by those of no religion (35%), Hindus (5%), Jews (3%), Buddhists (2%), Muslims (1%) and a variety of other religions have smaller followings. According to the same study by the Pew Research Center, about 20% of residents in the area are Protestant, and 25% professing Roman Catholic beliefs. Meanwhile, 10% of the residents in metropolitan San Francisco identify as agnostics, while 5% identify as atheists. [131] [132]

As of 2010 [update] , 55% (411,728) of San Francisco residents spoke only English at home, while 19% (140,302) spoke a variety of Chinese (mostly Taishanese and Cantonese [133] [134] ), 12% (88,147) Spanish, 3% (25,767) Tagalog, and 2% (14,017) Russian. In total, 45% (342,693) of San Francisco's population spoke a language at home other than English. [135]

Ethnic clustering Edit

San Francisco has several prominent Chinese, Mexican, and Filipino ethnic neighborhoods including Chinatown and the Mission District. Research collected on the immigrant clusters in the city show that more than half of the Asian population in San Francisco is either Chinese-born (40.3%) or Philippine-born (13.1%), and of the Mexican population 21% were Mexican-born, meaning these are people who recently immigrated to the United States. [137] Between the years of 1990 and 2000, the number foreign born residents increased from 33% to nearly 40%, [137] During this same time period, the San Francisco Metropolitan area received 850,000 immigrants, ranking third in the United States after Los Angeles and New York. [137]

Education, households, and income Edit

Of all major cities in the United States, San Francisco has the second-highest percentage of residents with a college degree, behind only Seattle. Over 44% of adults have a bachelor's or higher degree. [138] San Francisco had the highest rate at 7,031 per square mile, or over 344,000 total graduates in the city's 46.7 square miles (121 km 2 ). [139]

San Francisco has the highest estimated percentage of gay and lesbian individuals of any of the 50 largest U.S. cities, at 15%. [140] San Francisco also has the highest percentage of same-sex households of any American county, with the Bay Area having a higher concentration than any other metropolitan area. [141]

Income in 2011
Per capita income [142] $46,777
Median household income [143] $72,947
Median family income [144] $87,329

San Francisco ranks third of American cities in median household income [145] with a 2007 value of $65,519. [126] Median family income is $81,136. [126] An emigration of middle-class families has left the city with a lower proportion of children than any other large American city, [146] with the dog population cited as exceeding the child population of 115,000, in 2018. [147] The city's poverty rate is 12%, lower than the national average. [148] Homelessness has been a chronic problem for San Francisco since the early 1970s. [149] The city is believed to have the highest number of homeless inhabitants per capita of any major U.S. city. [150] [151]

There are 345,811 households in the city, out of which: 133,366 households (39%) were individuals, 109,437 (32%) were opposite-sex married couples, 63,577 (18%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 21,677 (6%) were unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 10,384 (3%) were same-sex married couples or partnerships. The average household size was 2.26 the average family size was 3.11. 452,986 people (56%) lived in rental housing units, and 327,985 people (41%) lived in owner-occupied housing units. The median age of the city population is 38 years.

San Francisco "declared itself a sanctuary city in 1989, and city officials strengthened the stance in 2013 with its 'Due Process for All' ordinance. The law declared local authorities could not hold immigrants for immigration officials if they had no violent felonies on their records and did not currently face charges." [152] The city issues a Resident ID Card regardless of the applicant's immigration status. [153]

Homelessness Edit

Homelessness, historically, has been a major problem in the city and remains a growing problem in modern times. [154]

8,035 homeless people were counted in San Francisco's 2019 point-in-time street and shelter count. This was an increase of more than 17% over the 2017 count of 6,858 people. 5,180 of the people were living unsheltered on the streets and in parks. [155] 26% of respondents in the 2019 count identified job loss as the primary cause of their homelessness, 18% cited alcohol or drug use, and 13% cited being evicted from their residence. [155] The city of San Francisco has been dramatically increasing its spending to service the growing population homelessness crisis: spending jumped by $241 million in 2016–17 to total $275 million, compared to a budget of just $34 million the previous year. In 2017–18 the budget for combatting homelessness stood at $305 million. [156] In the 2019–2020 budget year, the city budgeted $368 million for homelessness services. In the propose 2020–2021 budget the city budgeted $850 million for homelessness services. [157]

In January 2018 a United Nations special rapporteur on homelessness, Leilani Farha, stated that she was "completely shocked" by San Francisco's homelessness crisis during a visit to the city. She compared the "deplorable conditions" of the homeless camps she witnessed on San Francisco's streets to those she had seen in Mumbai. [156] In May 2020, San Francisco officially sanctioned homeless encampments. [158]

Crime Edit

In 2011, 50 murders were reported, which is 6.1 per 100,000 people. [159] There were about 134 rapes, 3,142 robberies, and about 2,139 assaults. There were about 4,469 burglaries, 25,100 thefts, and 4,210 motor vehicle thefts. [160] The Tenderloin area has the highest crime rate in San Francisco: 70% of the city's violent crimes, and around one-fourth of the city's murders, occur in this neighborhood. The Tenderloin also sees high rates of drug abuse, gang violence, and prostitution. [161] Another area with high crime rates is the Bayview-Hunters Point area. In the first six months of 2015 there were 25 murders compared to 14 in the first six months of 2014. However, the murder rate is still much lower than in past decades. [162] That rate, though, did rise again by the close of 2016. According to the San Francisco Police Department, there were 59 murders in the city in 2016, an annual total that marked a 13.5% increase in the number of homicides (52) from 2015. [163]

During the first half of 2018, human feces on San Francisco sidewalks were the second-most-frequent complaint of city residents, with about 65 calls per day. The city has formed a "poop patrol" to attempt to combat the problem. [164]

Gangs Edit

Several street gangs have operated in the city over the decades, including MS-13, [165] the Sureños and Norteños in the Mission District. [166] In 2008, a MS-13 member killed three family members as they were arriving home in the city's Excelsior District. His victims had no relationship with him, nor did they have any known gang or street crime involvement.

African-American street gangs familiar in other cities, including the Bloods, Crips and their sets, have struggled to establish footholds in San Francisco, [167] while police and prosecutors have been accused of liberally labeling young African-American males as gang members. [168] However, gangs founded in San Francisco with majority Black memberships have made their presence in the city. The gang Westmob, associated with Oakdale Mob and Sunnydale housing project gangs from the southeast area of the city, was involved in a gang war with Hunters Point-based Big Block from 1999 to the 2000s. Its current status of activity is unknown. [169] They claim territory from West Point to Middle Point in the Hunters Point projects. [170] In 2004, a Westmob member fatally shot a SFPD officer and wounded his partner he was sentenced to life without parole in 2007. [171]

Criminal gangs with shotcallers in China, including Triad groups such as the Wo Hop To, have been reported active in San Francisco. [172] In 1977, an ongoing rivalry between two Chinese gangs led to a shooting attack at the Golden Dragon restaurant in Chinatown, which left 5 people dead and 11 wounded. None of the victims in this attack were gang members. Five members of the Joe Boys gang were arrested and convicted of the crime. [173] In 1990, a gang-related shooting killed one man and wounded six others outside a nightclub near Chinatown. [174] In 1998, six teenagers were shot and wounded at the Chinese Playground a 16-year-old boy was subsequently arrested. [175]

According to academic Rob Wilson, San Francisco is a global city, a status that pre-dated the city's popularity during the California Gold Rush. [176] Such cities are characterized by their ethnic clustering, network of international connectivity, and convergence of technological innovation. [137] Global cities, such as San Francisco, are considered to be complex and require a high level of talent as well as large masses of low wage workers. A divide is created within the city of ethnic, typically lower-class neighborhoods, and expensive ones with newly developed buildings. This in turn creates a population of highly educated, white-collar individuals as well as blue-collar workers, many of whom are immigrants, and who both are drawn to the increasing number of opportunities available. [177] Competition for these opportunities pushes growth and adaptation in world centers. [178]

San Francisco has a diversified service economy, with employment spread across a wide range of professional services, including financial services, tourism, and (increasingly) high technology. [179] In 2016, approximately 27% of workers were employed in professional business services 14% in leisure and hospitality 13% in government services 12% in education and health care 11% in trade, transportation, and utilities and 8% in financial activities. [179] In 2019, GDP in the five-county San Francisco metropolitan area grew 3.8% in real terms to $592 billion. [180] [26] Additionally, in 2019 the 14-county San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland combined statistical area had a GDP of $1.086 trillion, [26] ranking 3rd among CSAs, and ahead of all but 16 countries. As of 2019, San Francisco County was the 7th highest-income county in the United States (among 3,142), with a per capita personal income of $139,405. [24] Marin County, directly to the north over the Golden Gate Bridge, and San Mateo County, directly to the south on the Peninsula, were the 6th and 9th highest-income counties respectively.

The legacy of the California Gold Rush turned San Francisco into the principal banking and finance center of the West Coast in the early twentieth century. [181] Montgomery Street in the Financial District became known as the "Wall Street of the West", home to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Wells Fargo corporate headquarters, and the site of the now-defunct Pacific Coast Stock Exchange. [181] Bank of America, a pioneer in making banking services accessible to the middle class, was founded in San Francisco and in the 1960s, built the landmark modern skyscraper at 555 California Street for its corporate headquarters. Many large financial institutions, multinational banks, and venture capital firms are based in or have regional headquarters in the city. With over 30 international financial institutions, [182] six Fortune 500 companies, [183] and a large support infrastructure of professional services—including law, public relations, architecture and design—San Francisco is designated as an Alpha(-) World City. [184] The 2017 Global Financial Centres Index ranked San Francisco as the sixth-most competitive financial center in the world. [185]

Since the 1990s, San Francisco's economy has diversified away from finance and tourism towards the growing fields of high tech, biotechnology, and medical research. [186] Technology jobs accounted for just 1 percent of San Francisco's economy in 1990, growing to 4 percent in 2010 and an estimated 8 percent by the end of 2013. [187] San Francisco became a center of Internet start-up companies during the dot-com bubble of the 1990s and the subsequent social media boom of the late 2000s (decade). [188] Since 2010, San Francisco proper has attracted an increasing share of venture capital investments as compared to nearby Silicon Valley, attracting 423 financings worth US$4.58 billion in 2013. [189] [190] [191] In 2004, the city approved a payroll tax exemption for biotechnology companies [192] to foster growth in the Mission Bay neighborhood, site of a second campus and hospital of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Mission Bay hosts the UCSF Medical Center, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, and Gladstone Institutes, [193] as well as more than 40 private-sector life sciences companies. [194]

The top employer in the city is the city government itself, employing 5.6% (31,000+ people) of the city's workforce, followed by UCSF with over 25,000 employees. [195] The largest private-sector employer is Salesforce, with 8,500 employees, as of 2018. [196] Small businesses with fewer than 10 employees and self-employed firms make up 85% of city establishments, [197] and the number of San Franciscans employed by firms of more than 1,000 employees has fallen by half since 1977. [198] The growth of national big box and formula retail chains into the city has been made intentionally difficult by political and civic consensus. In an effort to buoy small privately owned businesses in San Francisco and preserve the unique retail personality of the city, the Small Business Commission started a publicity campaign in 2004 to keep a larger share of retail dollars in the local economy, [199] and the Board of Supervisors has used the planning code to limit the neighborhoods where formula retail establishments can set up shop, [200] an effort affirmed by San Francisco voters. [201] However, by 2016, San Francisco was rated low by small businesses in a Business Friendliness Survey. [202]

Like many U.S. cities, San Francisco once had a significant manufacturing sector employing nearly 60,000 workers in 1969, but nearly all production left for cheaper locations by the 1980s. [203] As of 2014 [update] , San Francisco has seen a small resurgence in manufacturing, with more than 4,000 manufacturing jobs across 500 companies, doubling since 2011. The city's largest manufacturing employer is Anchor Brewing Company, and the largest by revenue is Timbuk2. [203]

Technology Edit

San Francisco became a hub for technological driven economic growth during the internet boom of the 1990s, and still holds an important position in the world city network today. [137] [178] Intense redevelopment towards the "new economy" makes business more technologically minded. Between the years of 1999 and 2000, the job growth rate was 4.9%, creating over 50,000 jobs in technology firms and internet content production. [137]

In the second technological boom driven by social media in the mid 2000s, San Francisco became a location for companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter to base their tech offices and for their employees to live. [204] Since then, tech employment has continued to increase. In 2014, San Francisco's tech employment grew nearly 90% between 2010 and 2014, beating out Silicon Valley's 30% growth rate over the same period. [205]

The tech sector's dominance in the Bay Area is internationally recognized and continues to attract new businesses and young entrepreneurs from all over the globe. [205] San Francisco is now widely considered the most important city in the world for new technology startups. [206] A recent high of 7 billion dollars in venture capital was invested in the region. [205] These startup companies hire well educated individuals looking to work in the tech industry, which helps the city have a well educated citizenry. Over 50% of San Franciscans have a 4-year university degree, thus the city ranks high in terms of its population's educational level. [204]

Tourism and conventions Edit

Tourism is one of the city's largest private-sector industries, accounting for more than one out of seven jobs in the city. [186] [207] The city's frequent portrayal in music, film, and popular culture has made the city and its landmarks recognizable worldwide. In 2016, it attracted the fifth-highest number of foreign tourists of any city in the United States. [208] More than 25 million visitors arrived in San Francisco in 2016, adding US$9.96 billion to the economy. [209] With a large hotel infrastructure and a world-class convention facility in the Moscone Center, San Francisco is a popular destination for annual conventions and conferences. [210]

Some of the most popular tourist attractions in San Francisco noted by the Travel Channel include the Golden Gate Bridge and Alamo Square Park, which is home to the famous "Painted Ladies". Both of these locations were often used as landscape shots for the hit American sitcom Full House. There is also Lombard Street, known for its "crookedness" and extensive views. Tourists also visit Pier 39, which offers dining, shopping, entertainment, and views of the bay, sun-bathing seals, and the famous Alcatraz Island. [211]

San Francisco also offers tourists cultural and unique nightlife in its neighborhoods. [212]

The new Terminal Project at Pier 27 opened September 25, 2014 as a replacement for the old Pier 35. [213] Itineraries from San Francisco usually include round trip cruises to Alaska and Mexico.

A heightened interest in conventioneering in San Francisco, marked by the establishment of convention centers such as Yerba Buena, acted as a feeder into the local tourist economy and resulted in an increase in the hotel industry: "In 1959, the city had fewer than thirty-three hundred first-class hotel rooms by 1970, the number was nine thousand and by 1999, there were more than thirty thousand." [214] The commodification of the Castro District has contributed to San Francisco's tourist economy. [215]

Although the Financial District, Union Square, and Fisherman's Wharf are well known around the world, San Francisco is also characterized by its numerous culturally rich streetscapes featuring mixed-use neighborhoods anchored around central commercial corridors to which residents and visitors alike can walk. Because of these characteristics, San Francisco is ranked the second "most walkable" city in the United States by Walkscore.com. [216] Many neighborhoods feature a mix of businesses, restaurants and venues that cater to both the daily needs of local residents while also serving many visitors and tourists. Some neighborhoods are dotted with boutiques, cafés and nightlife such as Union Street in Cow Hollow, 24th Street in Noe Valley, Valencia Street in the Mission, Grant Avenue in North Beach, and Irving Street in the Inner Sunset. This approach especially has influenced the continuing South of Market neighborhood redevelopment with businesses and neighborhood services rising alongside high-rise residences. [217]

Since the 1990s, the demand for skilled information technology workers from local startups and nearby Silicon Valley has attracted white-collar workers from all over the world and created a high standard of living in San Francisco. [218] Many neighborhoods that were once blue-collar, middle, and lower class have been gentrifying, as many of the city's traditional business and industrial districts have experienced a renaissance driven by the redevelopment of the Embarcadero, including the neighborhoods South Beach and Mission Bay. The city's property values and household income have risen to among the highest in the nation, [219] [220] [221] creating a large and upscale restaurant, retail, and entertainment scene. According to a 2014 quality of life survey of global cities, San Francisco has the highest quality of living of any U.S. city. [222] However, due to the exceptionally high cost of living, many of the city's middle and lower-class families have been leaving the city for the outer suburbs of the Bay Area, or for California's Central Valley. [223] By June 2, 2015, the median rent was reported to be as high as $4,225. [224] The high cost of living is due in part to restrictive planning laws which limit new residential construction. [225]

The international character that San Francisco has enjoyed since its founding is continued today by large numbers of immigrants from Asia and Latin America. With 39% of its residents born overseas, [198] San Francisco has numerous neighborhoods filled with businesses and civic institutions catering to new arrivals. In particular, the arrival of many ethnic Chinese, which began to accelerate in the 1970s, has complemented the long-established community historically based in Chinatown throughout the city and has transformed the annual Chinese New Year Parade into the largest event of its kind in its hemisphere. [226] [227]

With the arrival of the "beat" writers and artists of the 1950s and societal changes culminating in the Summer of Love in the Haight-Ashbury district during the 1960s, San Francisco became a center of liberal activism and of the counterculture that arose at that time. The Democrats and to a lesser extent the Green Party have dominated city politics since the late 1970s, after the last serious Republican challenger for city office lost the 1975 mayoral election by a narrow margin. San Francisco has not voted more than 20% for a Republican presidential or senatorial candidate since 1988. [228] In 2007, the city expanded its Medicaid and other indigent medical programs into the Healthy San Francisco program, [229] which subsidizes certain medical services for eligible residents. [230] [231] [232]

San Francisco also has had a very active environmental community. Starting with the founding of the Sierra Club in 1892 to the establishment of the non-profit Friends of the Urban Forest in 1981, San Francisco has been at the forefront of many global discussions regarding the environment. [233] [234] The 1980 San Francisco Recycling Program was one of the earliest curbside recycling programs. [235] The city's GoSolarSF incentive promotes solar installations and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is rolling out the CleanPowerSF program to sell electricity from local renewable sources. [236] [237] SF Greasecycle is a program to recycle used cooking oil for conversion to biodiesel. [238]

The Sunset Reservoir Solar Project, completed in 2010, installed 24,000 solar panels on the roof of the reservoir. The 5-megawatt plant more than tripled the city's 2-megawatt solar generation capacity when it opened in December 2010. [239] [240]

LGBT Edit

San Francisco has long had an LGBT-friendly history. It was home to the first lesbian-rights organization in the United States, Daughters of Bilitis the first openly gay person to run for public office in the United States, José Sarria the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, Harvey Milk the first openly lesbian judge appointed in the U.S., Mary C. Morgan and the first transgender police commissioner, Theresa Sparks. The city's large gay population has created and sustained a politically and culturally active community over many decades, developing a powerful presence in San Francisco's civic life. [ citation needed ] Survey data released in 2015 by Gallup place the proportion of the San Francisco metro area at 6.2%, which is the highest such proportion observed of the 50 most populous metropolitan areas as measured by the polling organization. [241]

One of the most popular destinations for gay tourists internationally, the city hosts San Francisco Pride, one of the largest and oldest pride parades. San Francisco Pride events have been held continuously since 1972. The events are themed and a new theme is created each year. In 2013, over 1.5 million people attended, around 500,000 more than the previous year. [242]

The Folsom Street Fair (FSF) is an annual BDSM and leather subculture street fair that is held in September, capping San Francisco's "Leather Pride Week". [243] It started in 1984 and is California's third-largest single-day, outdoor spectator event and the world's largest leather event and showcase for BDSM products and culture. [244]

Performing arts Edit

San Francisco's War Memorial and Performing Arts Center hosts some of the most enduring performing-arts companies in the country. The War Memorial Opera House houses the San Francisco Opera, the second-largest opera company in North America [245] [ citation needed ] as well as the San Francisco Ballet, while the San Francisco Symphony plays in Davies Symphony Hall. Opened in 2013, the SFJAZZ Center hosts jazz performances year round. [ citation needed ]

The Fillmore is a music venue located in the Western Addition. It is the second incarnation of the historic venue that gained fame in the 1960s, housing the stage where now-famous musicians such as the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin and Jefferson Airplane first performed, fostering the San Francisco Sound. [ citation needed ]

San Francisco has a large number of theaters and live performance venues. Local theater companies have been noted for risk taking and innovation. [246] The Tony Award-winning non-profit American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) is a member of the national League of Resident Theatres. Other local winners of the Regional Theatre Tony Award include the San Francisco Mime Troupe. [247] San Francisco theaters frequently host pre-Broadway engagements and tryout runs, [248] and some original San Francisco productions have later moved to Broadway. [249]

Museums Edit

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) houses 20th century and contemporary works of art. It moved to its current building in the South of Market neighborhood in 1995 and attracted more than 600,000 visitors annually. [250] SFMOMA closed for renovation and expansion in 2013. The museum reopened on May 14, 2016, with an addition, designed by Snøhetta, that has doubled the museum's size. [251]

The Palace of the Legion of Honor holds primarily European antiquities and works of art at its Lincoln Park building modeled after its Parisian namesake. The de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park features American decorative pieces and anthropological holdings from Africa, Oceania and the Americas, while Asian art is housed in the Asian Art Museum. Opposite the de Young stands the California Academy of Sciences, a natural history museum that also hosts the Morrison Planetarium and Steinhart Aquarium. Located on Pier 15 on the Embarcadero, the Exploratorium is an interactive science museum. The Contemporary Jewish Museum is a non-collecting institution that hosts a broad array of temporary exhibitions. On Nob Hill, the Cable Car Museum is a working museum featuring the cable car power house, which drives the cables. [252]

Major League Baseball's San Francisco Giants have played in San Francisco since moving from New York in 1958. The Giants play at Oracle Park, which opened in 2000. [253] The Giants won World Series titles in 2010, 2012, and in 2014. The Giants have boasted such stars as Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Barry Bonds. In 2012, San Francisco was ranked No. 1 in a study that examined which U.S. metro areas have produced the most Major Leaguers since 1920. [254]

The San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL) began play in 1946 as an All-America Football Conference (AAFC) league charter member, moved to the NFL in 1950 and into Candlestick Park in 1971. The team began playing its home games at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara in 2014. [255] [256] The 49ers won five Super Bowl titles between 1982 and 1995.

The San Francisco Warriors played in the NBA from 1962 to 1971, before being renamed the Golden State Warriors prior to the 1971–1972 season in an attempt to present the team as a representation of the whole state of California. [257] The Warriors' arena, Chase Center, is located in San Francisco. [258] They have won six championships, [259] and made five consecutive NBA Finals from 2015 to 2019, winning three of them.

At the collegiate level, the San Francisco Dons compete in NCAA Division I. Bill Russell led the Dons basketball team to NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956. There is also the San Francisco State Gators, who compete in NCAA Division II. [260] Oracle Park hosted the annual Fight Hunger Bowl college football game from 2002 through 2013 before it moved to Santa Clara.

The Bay to Breakers footrace, held annually since 1912, is best known for colorful costumes and a celebratory community spirit. [261] The San Francisco Marathon attracts more than 21,000 participants. [262] The Escape from Alcatraz triathlon has, since 1980, attracted 2,000 top professional and amateur triathletes for its annual race. [263] The Olympic Club, founded in 1860, is the oldest athletic club in the United States. Its private golf course has hosted the U.S. Open on five occasions. San Francisco hosted the 2013 America's Cup yacht racing competition. [264]

With an ideal climate for outdoor activities, San Francisco has ample resources and opportunities for amateur and participatory sports and recreation. There are more than 200 miles (320 km) of bicycle paths, lanes and bike routes in the city. [265] San Francisco residents have often ranked among the fittest in the country. [266] Golden Gate Park has miles of paved and unpaved running trails as well as a golf course and disc golf course. Boating, sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing are among the popular activities on San Francisco Bay, and the city maintains a yacht harbor in the Marina District.

San Francisco also has had Esports teams, such as the Overwatch League's San Francisco Shock. Established in 2017, [267] they won two back-to-back championship titles in 2019 and 2020. [268] [269]

Several of San Francisco's parks and nearly all of its beaches form part of the regional Golden Gate National Recreation Area, one of the most visited units of the National Park system in the United States with over 13 million visitors a year. Among the GGNRA's attractions within the city are Ocean Beach, which runs along the Pacific Ocean shoreline and is frequented by a vibrant surfing community, and Baker Beach, which is located in a cove west of the Golden Gate and part of the Presidio, a former military base. Also within the Presidio is Crissy Field, a former airfield that was restored to its natural salt marsh ecosystem. The GGNRA also administers Fort Funston, Lands End, Fort Mason, and Alcatraz. The National Park Service separately administers the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park – a fleet of historic ships and waterfront property around Aquatic Park. [ citation needed ]

There are more than 220 parks maintained by the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department. [270] The largest and best-known city park is Golden Gate Park, [271] which stretches from the center of the city west to the Pacific Ocean. Once covered in native grasses and sand dunes, the park was conceived in the 1860s and was created by the extensive planting of thousands of non-native trees and plants. The large park is rich with cultural and natural attractions such as the Conservatory of Flowers, Japanese Tea Garden and San Francisco Botanical Garden. Lake Merced is a fresh-water lake surrounded by parkland and near the San Francisco Zoo, a city-owned park that houses more than 250 animal species, many of which are endangered. [272] The only park managed by the California State Park system located principally in San Francisco, Candlestick Point was the state's first urban recreation area. [273]

San Francisco is the first city in the U.S. to have a park within a 10-Minute Walk of every resident. [274] [275] It also ranks fifth in the U.S. for park access and quality in the 2018 ParkScore ranking of the top 100 park systems across the United States, according to the nonprofit Trust for Public Land. [276]

San Francisco—officially known as the City and County of San Francisco—is a consolidated city-county, a status it has held since the 1856 secession of what is now San Mateo County. [28] It is the only such consolidation in California. [277] The mayor is also the county executive, and the county Board of Supervisors acts as the city council. The government of San Francisco is a charter city and is constituted of two co-equal branches: the executive branch is headed by the mayor and includes other citywide elected and appointed officials as well as the civil service the 11-member Board of Supervisors, the legislative branch, is headed by a president and is responsible for passing laws and budgets, though San Franciscans also make use of direct ballot initiatives to pass legislation. [278]

The members of the Board of Supervisors are elected as representatives of specific districts within the city. [279] Upon the death or resignation of mayor, the President of the Board of Supervisors becomes acting mayor until the full Board elects an interim replacement for the remainder of the term. In 1978, Dianne Feinstein assumed the office following the assassination of George Moscone and was later selected by the board to finish the term. In 2011, Ed Lee was selected by the board to finish the term of Gavin Newsom, who resigned to take office as Lieutenant Governor of California. [280] Lee (who won 2 elections to remain mayor) was temporarily replaced by San Francisco Board of Supervisors President London Breed after he died on December 12, 2017. Supervisor Mark Farrell was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to finish Lee's term on January 23, 2018.

Because of its unique city-county status, the local government is able to exercise jurisdiction over certain property outside city limits. San Francisco International Airport, though located in San Mateo County, is owned and operated by the City and County of San Francisco. San Francisco's largest jail complex (County Jail No. 5) is located in San Mateo County, in an unincorporated area adjacent to San Bruno. San Francisco was also granted a perpetual leasehold over the Hetch Hetchy Valley and watershed in Yosemite National Park by the Raker Act in 1913. [277]

San Francisco serves as the regional hub for many arms of the federal bureaucracy, including the U.S. Court of Appeals, the Federal Reserve Bank, and the U.S. Mint. Until decommissioning in the early 1990s, the city had major military installations at the Presidio, Treasure Island, and Hunters Point—a legacy still reflected in the annual celebration of Fleet Week. The State of California uses San Francisco as the home of the state supreme court and other state agencies. Foreign governments maintain more than seventy consulates in San Francisco. [281]

The municipal budget for fiscal year 2015–16 was $8.99 billion, [282] and is one of the largest city budgets in the United States. [283] The City of San Francisco spends more per resident than any city other than Washington D.C, over $10,000 in FY 2015–2016. [283] The city employs around 27,000 workers. [284]

In the United States House of Representatives, San Francisco is split between California's 12th and 14th districts.

Colleges and universities Edit

The University of California, San Francisco is the sole campus of the University of California system entirely dedicated to graduate education in health and biomedical sciences. It is ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States [285] and operates the UCSF Medical Center, which ranks as the number one hospital in California and the number 5 in the country. [286] UCSF is a major local employer, second in size only to the city and county government. [287] [288] [289] A 43-acre (17 ha) Mission Bay campus was opened in 2003, complementing its original facility in Parnassus Heights. It contains research space and facilities to foster biotechnology and life sciences entrepreneurship and will double the size of UCSF's research enterprise. [290] All in all, UCSF operates more than 20 facilities across San Francisco. [291] The University of California, Hastings College of the Law, founded in Civic Center in 1878, is the oldest law school in California and claims more judges on the state bench than any other institution. [292] San Francisco's two University of California institutions have recently formed an official affiliation in the UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science & Health Policy. [293]

San Francisco State University is part of the California State University system and is located near Lake Merced. [294] The school has approximately 30,000 students and awards undergraduate, master's and doctoral degrees in more than 100 disciplines. [294] The City College of San Francisco, with its main facility in the Ingleside district, is one of the largest two-year community colleges in the country. It has an enrollment of about 100,000 students and offers an extensive continuing education program. [295]

Founded in 1855, the University of San Francisco, a private Jesuit university located on Lone Mountain, is the oldest institution of higher education in San Francisco and one of the oldest universities established west of the Mississippi River. [296] Golden Gate University is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational university formed in 1901 and located in the Financial District. With an enrollment of 13,000 students, the Academy of Art University is the largest institute of art and design in the nation. [297] Founded in 1871, the San Francisco Art Institute is the oldest art school west of the Mississippi. [298] The California College of the Arts, located north of Potrero Hill, has programs in architecture, fine arts, design, and writing. [299] The San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the only independent music school on the West Coast, grants degrees in orchestral instruments, chamber music, composition, and conducting. The California Culinary Academy, associated with the Le Cordon Bleu program, offers programs in the culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, and hospitality and restaurant management. California Institute of Integral Studies, founded in 1968, offers a variety of graduate programs in its Schools of Professional Psychology & Health, and Consciousness and Transformation.

Primary and secondary schools Edit

Public schools are run by the San Francisco Unified School District as well as the California State Board of Education for some charter schools. Lowell High School, the oldest public high school in the U.S. west of the Mississippi, [300] and the smaller School of the Arts High School are two of San Francisco's magnet schools at the secondary level. Public school students attend schools based on an assignment system rather than neighborhood proximity. [301]

Just under 30% of the city's school-age population attends one of San Francisco's more than 100 private or parochial schools, compared to a 10% rate nationwide. [302] Nearly 40 of those schools are Catholic schools managed by the Archdiocese of San Francisco. [303]

Early education Edit

San Francisco has nearly 300 preschool programs primarily operated by Head Start, San Francisco Unified School District, private for-profit, private non-profit and family child care providers. [304] All 4-year-old children living in San Francisco are offered universal access to preschool through the Preschool for All program. [305]

The major daily newspaper in San Francisco is the San Francisco Chronicle, which is currently Northern California's most widely circulated newspaper. [306] The Chronicle is most famous for a former columnist, the late Herb Caen, whose daily musings attracted critical acclaim and represented the "voice of San Francisco". The San Francisco Examiner, once the cornerstone of William Randolph Hearst's media empire and the home of Ambrose Bierce, declined in circulation over the years and now takes the form of a free daily tabloid, under new ownership. [307] [308] Sing Tao Daily claims to be the largest of several Chinese language dailies that serve the Bay Area. [309] SF Weekly is the city's alternative weekly newspaper. San Francisco and 7x7 are major glossy magazines about San Francisco. The national newsmagazine Mother Jones is also based in San Francisco. San Francisco is home to online-only media publications such as SFist, and AsianWeek, which was the first and the largest English language publication focusing on Asian Americans.

The San Francisco Bay Area is the sixth-largest television market [310] and the fourth-largest radio market [311] in the U.S. The city's oldest radio station, KCBS, began as an experimental station in San Jose in 1909, before the beginning of commercial broadcasting. KALW was the city's first FM radio station when it signed on the air in 1941. The city's first television station was KPIX, which began broadcasting in 1948.

All major U.S. television networks have affiliates serving the region, with most of them based in the city. CNN, MSNBC, BBC, Russia Today, and CCTV America also have regional news bureaus in San Francisco. Bloomberg West was launched in 2011 from a studio on the Embarcadero and CNBC broadcasts from One Market Plaza since 2015. ESPN uses the local ABC studio for their broadcasting. The regional sports network, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and its sister station Comcast SportsNet California, are both located in San Francisco. The Pac-12 Network is also based in San Francisco.

Public broadcasting outlets include both a television station and a radio station, both broadcasting under the call letters KQED from a facility near the Potrero Hill neighborhood. KQED-FM is the most-listened-to National Public Radio affiliate in the country. [312] Another local broadcaster, KPOO, is an independent, African-American owned and operated noncommercial radio station established in 1971. [313] CNET, founded 1994, and Salon.com, 1995, are based in San Francisco.

San Francisco-based inventors made important contributions to modern media. During the 1870s, Eadweard Muybridge began recording motion photographically and invented a zoopraxiscope with which to view his recordings. These were the first motion pictures. Then in 1927, Philo Farnsworth's image dissector camera tube transmitted its first image. This was the first television.

Transportation Edit

Public transportation Edit

Transit is the most used form of transportation every day in San Francisco. Every weekday, more than 560,000 people travel on Muni's 69 bus routes and more than 140,000 customers ride the Muni Metro light rail system. [314] 32% of San Francisco residents use public transportation for their daily commute to work, ranking it first on the West Coast and third overall in the United States. [315] The San Francisco Municipal Railway, primarily known as Muni, is the primary public transit system of San Francisco. Muni is the seventh-largest transit system in the United States, with 210,848,310 rides in 2006. [316] The system operates a combined light rail and subway system, the Muni Metro, as well as large bus and trolley coach networks. [317] Additionally, it runs a historic streetcar line, which runs on Market Street from Castro Street to Fisherman's Wharf. [317] It also operates the famous cable cars, [317] which have been designated as a National Historic Landmark and are a major tourist attraction. [318]

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), a regional Rapid Transit system, connects San Francisco with the East Bay and San Jose through the underwater Transbay Tube. The line runs under Market Street to Civic Center where it turns south to the Mission District, the southern part of the city, and through northern San Mateo County, to the San Francisco International Airport, and Millbrae. [317]

Another commuter rail system, Caltrain, runs from San Francisco along the San Francisco Peninsula to San Jose. [317] Historically, trains operated by Southern Pacific Lines ran from San Francisco to Los Angeles, via Palo Alto and San Jose.

Amtrak California Thruway Motorcoach runs a shuttle bus from three locations in San Francisco to its station across the bay in Emeryville. [319] Additionally, BART offers connections to San Francisco from Amtrak's stations in Emeryville, Oakland and Richmond, and Caltrain offers connections in San Jose and Santa Clara. Thruway service also runs south to San Luis Obispo with connection to the Pacific Surfliner.

San Francisco Bay Ferry operates from the Ferry Building and Pier 39 to points in Oakland, Alameda, Bay Farm Island, South San Francisco, and north to Vallejo in Solano County. [320] The Golden Gate Ferry is the other ferry operator with service between San Francisco and Marin County. [321] SolTrans runs supplemental bus service between the Ferry Building and Vallejo.

San Francisco was an early adopter of carsharing in America. The non-profit City CarShare opened in 2001. [322] Zipcar closely followed. [323]

To accommodate the large amount of San Francisco citizens who commute to the Silicon Valley daily, employers like Genentech, Google, and Apple have begun to provide private bus transportation for their employees, from San Francisco locations. These buses have quickly become a heated topic of debate within the city, as protesters claim they block bus lanes and delay public buses. [324]

Freeways and roads Edit

In 2014, only 41.3% of residents commuted by driving alone or carpooling in private vehicles in San Francisco, a decline from 48.6% in 2000. [325] There are 1,088 miles of streets in San Francisco with 946 miles of these streets being surface streets, and 59 miles of freeways. [325] Due to its unique geography, and the freeway revolts of the late 1950s, [326] Interstate 80 begins at the approach to the Bay Bridge and is the only direct automobile link to the East Bay. U.S. Route 101 connects to the western terminus of Interstate 80 and provides access to the south of the city along San Francisco Bay toward Silicon Valley. Northward, the routing for U.S. 101 uses arterial streets to connect to the Golden Gate Bridge, the only direct automobile link to Marin County and the North Bay.

As part of the retrofitting of the Golden Gate Bridge and installation of a suicide barrier, starting in 2019 the railings on the west side of the pedestrian walkway were replaced with thinner, more flexible slats in order to improve the bridge's aerodynamic tolerance of high wind to 100 mph (161 km/h). Starting in June 2020, reports were received of a loud hum produced by the new railing slats, heard across the city when a strong west wind was blowing. [327]

State Route 1 also enters San Francisco from the north via the Golden Gate Bridge and bisects the city as the 19th Avenue arterial thoroughfare, joining with Interstate 280 at the city's southern border. Interstate 280 continues south from San Francisco, and also turns to the east along the southern edge of the city, terminating just south of the Bay Bridge in the South of Market neighborhood. After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, city leaders demolished the Embarcadero Freeway and a portion of the Central Freeway, converting them into street-level boulevards. [326]

State Route 35 enters the city from the south as Skyline Boulevard and terminates at its intersection with Highway 1. State Route 82 enters San Francisco from the south as Mission Street, and terminates shortly thereafter at its junction with 280. The western terminus of the historic transcontinental Lincoln Highway, the first road across America, is in San Francisco's Lincoln Park.

Vision Zero Edit

In 2014, San Francisco committed to Vision Zero, with the goal of ending all traffic fatalities caused by motor vehicles within the city by 2024. [328] San Francisco's Vision Zero plan calls for investing in engineering, enforcement, and education, and focusing on dangerous intersections. In 2013, 25 people were killed by car and truck drivers while walking and biking in the city and 9 car drivers and passengers were killed in collisions. In 2019, 42 people were killed in traffic collisions in San Francisco. [329]

Airports Edit

Though located 13 miles (21 km) south of downtown in unincorporated San Mateo County, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is under the jurisdiction of the City and County of San Francisco. SFO is a hub for United Airlines [330] and Alaska Airlines. [331] SFO is a major international gateway to Asia and Europe, with the largest international terminal in North America. [332] In 2011, SFO was the eighth-busiest airport in the U.S. and the 22nd-busiest in the world, handling over 40.9 million passengers. [333]

Located across the bay, Oakland International Airport is a popular, low-cost alternative to SFO. Geographically, Oakland Airport is approximately the same distance from downtown San Francisco as SFO, but due to its location across San Francisco Bay, it is greater driving distance from San Francisco.

Cycling and walking Edit

Cycling is a popular mode of transportation in San Francisco, with 75,000 residents commuting by bicycle each day. [334] In recent years, the city has installed better cycling infrastructure such as protected bike lanes and parking racks. [335] Bay Wheels, previously named Bay Area Bike Share at inception, launched in August 2013 with 700 bikes in downtown San Francisco, selected cities in the East Bay, and San Jose. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Bay Area Air Quality Management District are responsible for the operation with management provided by Motivate. [336] A major expansion started in 2017, along with a rebranding as Ford GoBike the company received its current name in 2019. [337] Pedestrian traffic is also widespread. In 2015, Walk Score ranked San Francisco the second-most walkable city in the United States. [338] [339] [340]

San Francisco has significantly higher rates of pedestrian and bicyclist traffic deaths than the United States on average. In 2013, 21 pedestrians were killed in vehicle collisions, the highest since 2001, [341] which is 2.5 deaths per 100,000 population – 70% higher than the national average of 1.5. [342]

Cycling is becoming increasingly popular in the city. Annual bicycle counts conducted by the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) in 2010 showed the number of cyclists at 33 locations had increased 58% from the 2006 baseline counts. [343] In 2008, the MTA estimated that about 128,000 trips were made by bicycle each day in the city, or 6% of total trips. [344] As of 2019, 2.6% of the city's streets have protected bike lanes, with 28 miles of protected bike lanes in the city. [314] Since 2006, San Francisco has received a Bicycle Friendly Community status of "Gold" from the League of American Bicyclists. [345]

Law enforcement Edit

The San Francisco Police Department was founded in 1849. [346] The portions of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area located within the city, including the Presidio and Ocean Beach, are patrolled by the United States Park Police.

The San Francisco Fire Department provides both fire suppression and emergency medical services to the city. [347]

The city operates 22 public "pit stop" toilets. [164]

San Francisco has several nicknames, including "The City by the Bay", "Golden Gate City", [348] "Frisco", "SF", "San Fran", and "Fog City" as well as older ones like "The City that Knows How", "Baghdad by the Bay", "The Paris of the West", or, as locals call it, "The City". [1] "San Fran" and "Frisco" are controversial as nicknames among San Francisco residents. [349] [350] [351]

San Francisco participates in the Sister Cities program. [352] A total of 41 consulates general and 23 honorary consulates have offices in the San Francisco Bay Area. [353]


How do you rebuild a city?

Recovery from a disaster like the San Francisco earthquake and its subsequent fires led to significant changes in building construction and planning in San Francisco and throughout California.

Infrastructure always needs repairs first, and within days, plumbers got to work, fixing sewers and water pipes. As California contemplated how to rebuild, the state had to take a hard look at building codes, the rules for how to keep people safe in buildings.

At the time of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, many California municipalities had building codes, but none considered seismic effects…

Professional organizations, particularly the Seismological Society of America, which formed in 1906, and later, the Structural Engineers Association of California, were persistent advocates of code provisions for earthquake-resistant construction.

Stanford University centennial commemoration of the earthquake

Various cities across the state began updating building codes to require buildings withstand seismic forces, but it still wasn’t until the 1960s that those codes became uniform across the state.


A perspective on the San Francisco earthquake, 1906

At 5:12 a.m. on April 18, 1906, a great earthquake broke loose, with an epicenter near San Francisco. Violent shocks punctuated the shaking, which lasted some 45 to 60 seconds. The earthquake was felt from southern Oregon to south of Los Angeles and inland as far as central Nevada. The city was then destroyed by a Great Fire that burned for four days. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of trapped persons died when South-of-Market tenements collapsed as the ground liquefied beneath them. Most of those buildings immediately caught fire, and trapped victims could not be rescued.

A recently discovered account of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco written by US Commissioner Silas W. Mack vividly describes the devastation, with 700 lives lost and a city left in shambles. Accompanying Mack’s solemn letter is a proclamation stating that law enforcement was "authorized [by the city] to KILL any and all persons found engaged in Looting or in the Commission of Any Other Crime." This broadside, issued by San Francisco Mayor E. E. Schmitz, exemplifies the mass hysteria that occurred following the quake.

The 1906 quake was the most destructive earthquake on record in North America until the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. The San Francisco earthquake and the fire that followed left approximately 250,000 people homeless, destroyed 25,000 buildings and resulted in an estimated $350 million in damages.

A full transcript is available.

Excerpt

Silas W. Mack to Clara W. Mack, April 20, 1906:

Wednesday, April 18th. will go down in history as the date of the most terrible calamity the United States, and particularly California, has ever known. I do not feel much like writing about it. Would feel better if I could cry but I cannot.


San Francisco Earthquake, 1906

On the morning of April 18, 1906, a massive earthquake shook San Francisco, California. Though the quake lasted less than a minute, its immediate impact was disastrous. The earthquake also ignited several fires around the city that burned for three days and destroyed nearly 500 city blocks.

Despite a quick response from San Francisco's large military population, the city was devastated. The earthquake and fires killed an estimated 3,000 people and left half of the city's 400,000 residents homeless. Aid poured in from around the country and the world, but those who survived faced weeks of difficulty and hardship.

The survivors slept in tents in city parks and the Presidio, stood in long lines for food, and were required to do their cooking in the street to minimize the threat of additional fires. The San Francisco earthquake is considered one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history.

Congress responded to the disaster in several ways. The House and the Senate Appropriations Committees enacted emergency appropriations for the city to pay for food, water, tents, blankets, and medical supplies in the weeks following the earthquake and fire. They also appropriated funds to reconstruct many of the public buildings that were damaged or destroyed.

Other congressional responses included the House Claims Committee handling claims from owners seeking reimbursement for destroyed property. For example, the committee received claims from the owners of several saloons and liquor stores, whose supplies of alcoholic spirits were destroyed by law enforcement officers trying to minimize the spread of fires and threat of mob violence. In the days following the earthquake, officials destroyed an estimated $30,000 worth of intoxicating liquors.

The Senate Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds reporting on buildings damaged in San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, and estimates of cost of repairs. The Senate also passed a resolution asking the Secretary of War to furnish the Senate with a copy of a report on the earthquake and fire. The report on the relief efforts and accompanying captioned photographs, prepared by the U.S. Army, are now housed with the records of the Senate Committee on Printing.

The following images are records of the United States Senate, National Archives from Record Group 46:

No. 63. Souvenir hunters. These in the early stages caused considerable trouble to the military authorities. RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives.

No. 64. Fire partially under control - 3rd day. RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives.

No. 1. Effect of earthquake on houses built on loose or made ground. RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives.

No. 17. West front of the new Chronicle Building showing damage by earthquake. RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives.

No. 21. St. Francis Hotel, Fairmount Hotel in distance showing clean sweep of fire in business section of all except class A steel frame buildings. RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives.

No. 22. Union street car line - showing displacement of made ground. RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives.

No. 44. More military help - 4th day. RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives.

No. 46. Camp in Golden Gate Park under military control. RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives.

No. 50. Chimneys were destroyed and cooking in houses was prohibited. RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives.

No. 54. A Typical Bread line in the early stages of the relief distribution. RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives.

No. 6. View of the ruined tower of the City Hall. Damage due to earthquake alone. RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives.

Related Resources:

1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Documents about the earthquake aftermath, from our archives located in San Francisco.

When an American City Is Destroyed How the U.S. military became the "first responders" and took charge when an earthquake struck San Francisco a century ago.

Aftermath of the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 in the National Archives Catalog Photographs and documents of the Aftermath of the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 have been digitized about the San Francisco Earthquake and fire.

Hetch Hetchy Environmental Debates Between 1908 and 1913, Congress debated whether to make a water resource available or preserve a wilderness when the growing city of San Francisco, California proposed building a dam in the Hetch Hetchy Valley to provide a steady water supply. The Hetch Hetchy Valley was within Yosemite National Park and protected by the federal government, leaving it up to Congress to decide the valley’s fate.

This page was last reviewed on September 30, 2020.
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