San Francisco, California


San Francisco
City in the United States
State California
County San Francisco
Coordinates 37°46’39″N, 122°24’59″WL
Surface 600.59 km²
– country 121.45 km²
– water 479.14 km²
(April 1, 2020)
(7195 inhabitant/km²)
– agglomeration 7,563,460 (2010) (Bay Area)
Mayor London Breed (D)
Portal United States
San Francisco

According to Existingcountries, San Francisco is a city in the US state of California and the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area. San Francisco is the fourth largest city in California, after Los Angeles, San Diego and San Jose. It is also the only city in California that coincides with a county: it is officially called the City and County of San Francisco.

The city, with a population of 881,549, is located on the San Francisco Peninsula that separates the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco Bay. The metropolitan area of ​​which San Francisco is the center consists of the cities of San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. With over 7 million inhabitants, it is the fifth largest conurbation in the United States. Only New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington DC – Baltimore are larger conurbations.

San Francisco is one of the most popular tourist cities in the world. Characteristic of San Francisco are its steep hills, the fresh summers and the fog. The city ‘s best known symbols are the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Chinatown, the Transamerica Pyramid and the funiculars. The gay district of Castro also enjoys international fame.


The San Francisco Presidio in 1822

Port of San Francisco around 1850

Around 3000 BC, the San Francisco Bay Area was inhabited by an Indian tribe, later called the Ohlone.

On November 16, 1542, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo sailed along the coast near San Francisco and discovered the Farallons. In 1575, Sebastião Rodrigues Soromenho ran aground in Drakes Bay and claimed the land for Spain. He called it Puerto de San Francisco (Port of Saint Francis). Later, in 1579, Sir Francis Drake also stranded in the bay. He claimed the land for England and named it Nova Albion.

Pioneers, including José Francisco Ortega, of a Spanish expedition led by Gaspar de Portolá discovered the Golden Gate on November 2, 1769. Seven years later, on March 28, 1776, another Spanish expedition, led by Juan Bautista de Anza, founded the Presidio and then, in June of the same year, the mission station of San Francisco de Asís.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the village of Yerba Buena (‘Good Grass’) arose about three kilometers from the presidio. When the Mexican-American War began in 1846, the United States took part of Alta California, including Yerba Buena which was renamed San Francisco. The city exploded during the California gold rush that began in 1848.

In 1906 San Francisco was hit by a massive earthquake. Several thousand people are believed to have died and many buildings were destroyed. The city was then rebuilt quickly and on a large scale.

In the second half of the twentieth century, San Francisco developed into a city of alternative cultures. In the 1960s, the city was seen as the hippie capital of the world; the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in particular was central to the hippie movement and was therefore locally also jokingly referred to as Hashbury. Councilor Harvey Milk was one of the first openly gay city officials in the 1970s. Even today, San Francisco is considered a gay paradise in the United States because it is a relatively gay-tolerant city.



San Francisco is located on the San Francisco Peninsula on the west coast of the United States. The city is located in the state of California, where it is the fourth largest city by population. Within a radius of 50 km around San Francisco lies the San Francisco Bay Area, a conurbation with 7 million inhabitants. The major cities of the San Francisco metropolitan area are: Berkeley, Oakland, Palo Alto, San Jose, and the Silicon Valley.

The Bay Area also has a number of natural areas, such as Muir Woods National Monument and Point Reyes National Seashore.


San Francisco has a Mediterranean climate. In January the average temperature is 10.6 °C, in July it is 15.1 °C. Annual average precipitation is 500.6 mm (data based on the measurement period 1961–1990). San Francisco is often shrouded in a hazy fog. This fog is partly responsible for the extremely cool summers in San Francisco. The fog is created because in the interior (Arizona, Nevada, Utah and the like) the temperature rises high in the summer. The warm air that rises as a result is supplemented by air from the sea – better said; from the Pacific Ocean. This air is obviously much colder. The interaction between cold and warm air causes fog and precipitation, among other things.

Weather Averages for San Francisco
Month Jan Feb Mar April May jun july aug sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average maximum (°C) 13 16 16 17 18 19 19 19 21 21 18 14 17
Average minimum (°C) 8 9 9 10 11 12 12 12 13 13 11 8 11
Precipitation (mm) 104.1 88.9 73.7 38.1 12.7 5.1 0 0 5.1 27.9 66 99.1 518.2
Source: Weatherbase


Damage and fire after the 1906 earthquake.

The city is located on the San Andreas Fault, cause of regular (small and large) earthquakes. On April 18, 1906, a massive earthquake caused extensive damage in San Francisco. The most widely accepted estimate of the magnitude of this quake is 7.8 on the Richter scale. Other estimates range between 7.7 and 8.3. There were 3000 deaths. Most of the damage, however, was caused by the major fire that broke out after the quake, partly due to the fact that San Francisco had natural gas pipelines early on. One hundred years later, on April 18, 2006, this fact was commemorated.

In 1989 the city was hit by another major earthquake (about 60 victims). The chance that such a disaster will hit the city again remains high. It may take many years, but a devastating earthquake can strike any day. Many buildings have been made ‘quake-proof’, but an earthquake can still have major consequences.


Gateway to Chinatown

According to the 2010 United States Census Bureau census, San Francisco had a population of 805,235, an increase of 3.7% from 2000, when there were 776,733 residents. San Francisco’s population has been growing since the 1980s. In the period before that, between 1950 and 1980, the decade-long census recorded declines. According to estimates in 2012, San Francisco had a population of about 826,000 at the time.

The ethnic composition of the population in 2010 was as follows: 48.1% Caucasian, 33.3% Asian, 6.1% African American, 0.5% Native American, and 0.4% from the Pacific Islands. In addition, 6.6% indicated that they belong to another race and 4.7% indicated that they belong to two or more races. As a percentage of the entire population, there were 15.1% Hispanics and Latinos in San Francisco. Non-Hispanic whites account for 41.9% of the population, making San Francisco a minority -majority city, although whites still make up the largest population. The largest ethnic minority is the Chinese (21.4%).

San Francisco, which occupies only a small area, has a population density of 6800 persons per km². This makes it the second most populous major city in the United States after New York. Large concentrations of skyscrapers were built to accommodate the population. Critics referred to this as Manhattanization.

The city is the traditional heart of a large conurbation and region, the San Francisco Bay Area. The San Jose -San Francisco- Oakland metropolitan area has more than 7 million inhabitants, making it the fifth largest metropolitan region in the US and the second in California after Los Angeles.

Governance and Politics

San Francisco City Hall

San Francisco has been a unified city–county (consolidated city–county) since 1856, so the city and county levels of government have been merged. This is the only place in the entire state of California where this has been done. The mayor is also the county’s executive, and the Board of Supervisors also functions as a city council, sitting in San Francisco City Hall.

The current mayor of San Francisco is London Breed. Every mayor since 1964 has been a Democrat. San Francisco is therefore known as a strongly progressive city.


Victorian House in San Francisco

In the 1960s, the city has universally developed into a city where subjects such as drugs and sex are not avoided. This is reflected in the work of Armistead Maupin in a daily column of the newspaper ‘The San Francisco Chronicle’. The conurbation is the cradle of movements like Beatnik and the Hippies. Smoking policy in public areas is very strict. In 2005, smoking was even banned in parks.

San Francisco’s ties to Asia are important to understanding the city: its Chinese community is one of the largest in North America; San Francisco has the second largest Chinese neighborhood in the United States after New York. The city has a sister relationship with Shanghai and has developed links with Asian culture; the Museum of Asian Art and the Japanese Garden are among the most interesting in the West. In 1975, a temporary exhibition in San Francisco of Chinese archaeological finds attracted 800,000 visitors in two months.

Every year in May, the Bay to Breakers running event is organized, an event that attracts many tens of thousands of interested people.


San Francisco skyline from Twin Peaks


Built on no less than 43 hills, this city offers numerous attractions:

  • Golden Gate Bridge is a large suspension bridge connecting the peninsula on which San Francisco is located to the north. The bridge is high enough to allow large ocean-going vessels to reach the port of San Francisco without any problems;
  • San Francisco’s Presidio is now a park and was a military site. Also on the property is Fort Point directly under the Golden Gate Bridge;
  • Twin Peaks, the second highest hill in San Francisco after Mount Davidson, offers panoramic views of the entire city;
  • Fisherman’s Wharf;
  • Union Square;
  • Alamo Square, known for its Victorian houses;
  • china town. San Francisco is home to the second largest Chinatown in North America. These days, the ornately decorated quarter ranks as one of the city’s top attractions;
  • Alcatraz Island used to be a high-security prison, where the biggest criminals were locked up and from which no one is said to have escaped alive. One of the island’s best-known inmates was Al Capone. Three prisoners escaped, but it is unknown whether they made it to the mainland alive. Authorities say they drowned, but conclusive evidence has never been found. Shortly after this event, the prison was closed. The movie Escape from Alcatraz is about this event. The island is now a well-attended museum;
  • San Francisco de Asís Mission, San Francisco’s oldest surviving building;
  • Ferry Building;
  • San Francisco City Hall with its giant dome;
  • Coit Tower;
  • Transamerica Pyramid;
  • Lombard Street, one of the crookedest streets in the world;
  • the sea lions at Pier 39. These animals lie on floating pontoons at the pier, depending on the season there are ten to several hundred specimens.


Palace of Fine Arts

San Francisco owes its rich cultural life, among other things, to its museums.

There is the Exploratorium, a science-themed museum. Since 2013, the Exploratorium has been located at Pier 15 and 17, but its original location was at the Palace of Fine Arts. This building, in the style of an ancient Roman dome, is one of the few remnants of the 1915 Panama -Pacific International Exposition.

The California Academy of Sciences is located in Golden Gate Park. This is a museum and scientific research institute with an international reputation, home to aquariums, natural history collections and a planetarium.

In the Civic Center, in a building that was inaugurated in 1966, is the Museum of Asian Art. The museum houses approximately 15,000 artifacts from Asia. Most of the collection comes from the millionaire Avery Brundage, who died in 1975. In 1989, a Korean art department was added to the collection. From 20 March 2003, after a thorough renovation under the direction of the Italian architect Gae Aulenti, the museum offers its collection in a new setting.

Finally, there are other museums, such as the Musée Mécanique in Fisherman’s Wharf, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco – which consists of the MH de Young Memorial Museum and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor – and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.


The San Francisco Jazz Festival has taken place in the fall since 1982.

Traffic and transport

A funicular

The public transport company SF Muni operates a network of metro and tram lines, supplemented by a bus network. The hills in San Francisco are too steep for a normal streetcar to drive. That is why there are cable cars that ‘grab’ on cables that move through a slot between the rails under the ground. The flat streets also serve ‘normal’ trams and express trams, including the historic PCC-car type trams on tram lines F Market & Wharves and E Embarcadero. The city is connected to the surrounding areas by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) light rail network.

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in the world, connecting the San Francisco Peninsula to Marin County across the Golden Gate.

San Francisco International Airport is located in San Mateo County, 21 km south of the city. The airport is located on a land reclamation area in the bay, just above sea level.


San Francisco has three sports clubs that compete in one of the top four American professional sports. It’s about:

  • San Francisco Giants (baseball)
  • San Francisco 49ers (American football)
  • Golden State Warriors (basketball)

San Francisco was host to the 1994 FIFA World Cup with Stanford Stadium.

San Francisco in folk culture

Television Series in San Francisco [ edit | edit source text ]

San Francisco from the air

San Francisco City Hall

Golden Gate Bridge

The Victorian Architectural Style in San Francisco

Transamerica Pyramid

San Francisco as seen from Twin Peaks

TV series set in San Francisco:

  • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.
  • ANT Farm
  • charmed
  • Dharma & Greg
  • Eli Stone
  • Full House
  • Fuller House
  • ironside
  • Jackie Chan Adventures
  • Journeyman
  • Kindred: The Embraced
  • monk
  • MythBusters
  • Nash Bridges
  • Party of Five
  • Poltergeist: The Legacy
  • Presidio Med
  • Sense8
  • sliders
  • The Streets of San Francisco
  • Suddenly Susan
  • Tales of the City
  • That’s So Raven
  • Too Close for Comfort
  • Trauma

Movies Shot in San Francisco

  • San Francisco, 1936, from WS Van Dyke with Clark Gable, Jeanette MacDonald, Spencer Tracy
  • The Maltese Falcon, 1941, by John Huston with Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre
  • Vertigo, 1958, by Alfred Hitchcock, including the Coit Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Legion of Honor museum
  • Psycho, 1960, by Alfred Hitchcock with Janet Leigh and Anthony Perkins
  • The Birds, 1963, by Alfred Hitchcock with Rod Taylor and Suzanne Pleshette
  • Good Neighbor Sam, 1964, by David Swift with Jack Lemmon and Romy Schneider
  • The Graduate, 1967, by Walt Nichols with Anne Bancroft and Dustin Hoffman
  • Bullitt, 1968, by Peter Yates, with Steve McQueen, Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Vaughn and Robert Duvall
  • The Love Bug (1968), by Robert Stevenson
  • Dirty Harry, 1971, from Don Siegel with Clint Eastwood. The sequels are also set in San Francisco
  • The Towering Inferno, 1974, with Steve McQueen and Paul Newman
  • Herbie Rides Again, 1974, by Robert Stevenson
  • Family Plot, 1976, by Alfred Hitchcock
  • A View to a Kill, 1985, by John Glen with Roger Moore and Christopher Walken
  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, 1986, by Leonard Nimoy, with William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley, James Doohan and others, 4th Star Trek feature
  • The Presidio, 1988, with Meg Ryan and Sean Connery
  • Pretty Woman, 1989 with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts
  • Basic Instinct, 1992, by Paul Verhoeven, with Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone
  • Sister Act, 1992, by Emile Ardolino with Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Nunn and Maggie Smith
  • mrs. Doubtfire, 1993, by Chris Columbus with Robin Williams, Sally Field and Pierce Brosnan
  • Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, 1993, by Bill Duke with Whoopi Goldberg, James Coburn and Maggie Smith
  • Copycat, 1995, by Jon Amiel
  • The Net (in part), 1995, by Irvin Winkler with Sandra Bullock
  • The Game, 1997, by David Fincher with Michael Douglas and Sean Penn
  • Subway, 1998, with Eddie Murphy
  • The Invisible Circus (in part), 2001, by Adam Brooks, with Jordana Brewster, Christopher Eccleston and Cameron Diaz.
  • The Princess Diaries, 2001, by Garry Marshall with Julie Andrews and Anne Hathaway
  • Sweet November, 2001, by Pat O’Connor with Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron
  • Hulk (in part), 2003, from Ang Lee, with Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliot and Nick Nolte.
  • Some Kind of Monster, 2004, by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, featuring James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and Robert Trujillo, the docu depicts the ups and downs of the metal band Metallica before, during, and after the recording of their album St. anger.
  • Just Like Heaven (2005) by Mark Waters with Reese Witherspoon.
  • The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) by Gabriele Muccino with Will Smith.
  • Zodiac (2007) by David Fincher with Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr..
  • Milk (2008) by Gus Van Sant with Sean Penn.
  • The Five-Year Engagement (2012) by Nicholas Stoller with Jason Segel.
  • Godzilla (2014) by Gareth Edwards with Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen and Bryan Cranston.
  • San Andreas (2015) by Brad Peyton with, among others, Dwayne Johnson. In this film, the city is destroyed by a severe earthquake.

Movies about Alcatraz

The prison of Alcatraz, which is located in San Francisco Bay, has inspired several filmmakers. The most famous movies featuring the prison are:

  • Birdman of Alcatraz, 1962, by John Frankenheimer, with Burt Lancaster is a dramatized story about the life of Robert Stroud, an inmate also known as “Birdman of Alcatraz”, because of his life with birds
  • Point Blank, 1967, by John Boorman, with Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson. This was the first film to be filmed on location after the prison closed in 1963.
  • Escape from Alcatraz, 1979, by Don Siegel, with Clint Eastwood based on the 1962 escape
  • Murder in the First, 1995, with Christian Slater, Kevin Bacon and Gary Oldman tells the story of a prisoner’s torture
  • The Rock, 1996, by Michael Bay, in which the story takes turns in San Francisco and on the island of Alcatraz Prison

Songs about San Francisco

  • 5 Seconds of Summer, San Francisco
  • The Animals, San Franciscan Nights
  • Arctic Monkeys, Fakes Tales of San Francisco
  • Bee Gees, San Francisco
  • Tony Bennett, I Left My Heart in San Francisco
  • Vanessa Carlton, San Francisco
  • Cascada, San Francisco
  • Eric Clapton, San Francisco Bay Blues
  • Bill Cosby, Drive in San Francisco
  • PH Electro, San Francisco
  • The Flower Pot Men, Let’s Go to San Francisco
  • Global Deejays, The Sound of San Francisco
  • Buddy Guy, Hello San Francisco
  • Johnny Hallyday, San Francisco
  • Richie Havens, San Francisco Bay Blues
  • John Lee Hooker, Frisco Blues
  • Chris Isaak, San Francisco Days
  • Janis Joplin, San Francisco Bay Blues
  • Journey, Lights
  • Maxime Le Forestier, San Francisco
  • Julie London, I Left My Heart in San Francisco
  • The Mamas and the Papas, If You’re Going to San Francisco
  • Henry Mancini, Streets of San Francisco
  • Dean Martin, I Left My Heart in San Francisco
  • Paul McCartney, San Francisco Bay Blues
  • Scott McKenzie, San Francisco
  • Quicksilver Messenger Service, Song for Frisco
  • Otis Redding, (Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay
  • Hello Saferide, San Francisco
  • Frank Sinatra, I Left My Heart in San Francisco
  • Jill Sobule, San Francisco
  • Stereophonics, Have a Nice Day
  • Train, Save Me San Francisco
  • Village People, San Francisco
  • Roger Williams, I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Universities & Colleges

Lombard Street

Telegraph Hill with the Coit Tower

  • Public universities:
    • University of California – San Francisco
    • City College of San Francisco
    • San Francisco State University
    • University of California, Hastings College of the Law
  • Private Universities:
    • Academy of Art University
    • Alliance International University
    • Art Institute of California – San Francisco
    • Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry
    • California College of the Arts
    • California Institute of Integral Studies
    • DeVry University
    • The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM)
    • Golden Gate University
    • Heal College
    • New College of California
    • San Francisco Art Institute
    • San Francisco Conservatory of Music
    • San Francisco School of Digital Filmmaking
    • University of the Pacific
    • University of San Francisco
    • Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Note: The University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University are also in the San Francisco metropolitan area.


  • San Francisco is the city where ” jeans ” were born.
  • The abbreviations Frisco and San Fran are mostly used by tourists and can count on the annoyance of residents of San Francisco. The only locally accepted abbreviation for San Francisco is SF.
  • The city of San Francisco appears in the computer game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas under the name San Fierro.

Town twinning

  • Amsterdam (Netherlands)
  • Haifa (Israel)
  • Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)
  • Manila (Philippines)
  • Krakow (Poland)
  • Paris (France)
  • Seoul (South Korea), since 1976
  • Shanghai (China)
  • Sydney (Australia)
  • Taipei (Taiwan)
  • Thessaloniki (Greece)
  • Zurich (Switzerland)

Former sister city

  • Osaka (Japan) October 7, 1957 – October 2, 2018

Nearby places

The figure below shows nearby places within 10 miles of San Francisco.

San Francisco

Alameda (16 km)

Belvedere (13 km)

Brisbane (9km)

Broadmoor (5 miles)

Colma (9 km)

Daly City (5 miles)

Emeryville (16 km)

Pacifica (16 km)

San Bruno (15 km)

Sausalito (12 km)

South San Francisco (12 km)

Strawberry (16 km)

Tiburon (15 km)

San Francisco, California