Sitting on 43 hills, and surrounded on three sides by water, San
Francisco is ideally located so that almost every one of its streets ends or
begins with a panoramic sea view. Some call it The City By the Bay, but to most
of its residents, it is known simply as The City. Seldom has there been
such a passion for preserving the past with its colorful legends and
architecture as there is in San Francisco. Seven times, it has been rebuilt
after fires and earthquakes; and seven times, it has been carefully and lovingly
The city varies in altitude from sea level to 929 feet because of its
configuration. The combined effect of the many hills, the Pacific Ocean, San
Francisco Bay, and the Golden Gate Bridge is stunning in its beauty and scope.
Established in 1835 as a resting place along the trail and called Yerba
Buena, the village had fewer than 100 inhabitants for 13 years. The discovery
of gold rapidly raised that population figure to over 10,000. Only a handful
made a fortune from gold, but many stayed on to develop the city that became San
Today San Francisco is an important industrial, tourist and financial
center. Its financial district is often called â€śWall Street West.â€ť The city
port handles huge amounts of cargo annually and ranks among the top ten ports in
the world for passenger traffic. George R. Moscone Convention Center occupies a
city block between third and Fourth Streets and Howard and Folsom Streets and is
almost entirely built underground. Across the street, is the Center for the
Arts at the Yerba Buena Gardens, a visual and performing arts complex.
San Francisco has a world-class symphony orchestra, opera, and ballet.
Other not to be missed attractions are the San Francisco Maritime Museum, the
California Academy of Science, the Natural History Museum and the Japanese Tea
Garden. Restaurants and nightspots span the entire spectrum of fine cuisine and
the best in live music and dance. Sports are at the top of the charts with
everything from golf, surfing, fishing, skiing, basketball and swimming to the
unforgettable San Francisco 49ers and San Francisco Giants.
recent years, San Francisco has consistently received the highest score of any
city in the United States in Conde Nast Traveler Magazine's Readers' Choice
Awards. San Francisco also scored highest in the world in the Restaurant
category and highest in the United States in the Environment Ambiance. The year
2000 marked the twelfth of thirteen years that San Francisco has been designated
Best City in the United States and the third year as the leader in the
The Bay Area, extending from the
suburban communities north of Oakland and Berkeley south through the peninsula
and the San Jose area, is really one continuous mega city, with San Francisco as
A prominent feature of San
Francisco is that beautifully fluffy, chilly, wet, heavy, material called â€śfogâ€ť
which makes the city's weather so mysterious, exciting, and unpredictable. A
rare combination of water, wind, and topography creates Northern California's
summer fog bank. It lies off the coast, and rising air currents pull it in when
the land heats up. Held back by coastal mountains along a 600-mile front, the
low clouds seek out any passage they can find. The easiest access happens to be
the slot where the Pacific Ocean penetrates the continental wall: otherwise
known as the Golden Gate!
While in San Francisco, be sure
to save time to visit Fishermanâ€™s Wharf. The wharf once bustled with Sicilian
and Genoese fishermen unloading their catches to sell. There is still a fishing
fleet, but the wharf is lined with more than a hundred seafood restaurants and
steaming crab pots as well as marine gear suppliers, and sidewalk performers.
From there itâ€™s a short walk to Chinatown with its pagoda roofs; colorful
lampposts, and fascinating shops. The 853-foot Transamerica pyramid marks the
heart of the Financial District, as does Embarcadero Center. Nearby is the home
of the new San Francisco Giants baseball stadium, Pac Bell Park.
The main shopping, hotel, and
theater district is at Union Square. A few blocks farther on, the formerly run
down factory district has been reborn as a cultural center with the Museum of
Modern Art as its centerpiece. Major galleries, museums and restaurants have
opened there, as well as Sonyâ€™s Metreon theater complex. Yerba Buena Gardens
provides constant family entertainment year round with its ice rinks, parks and
childrenâ€™s play areas.
It is wise to plan to spend a
day of relaxation in Golden Gate Park and to save another day for a quiet stroll
along Ocean Beach. A leisurely pace leaves time to enjoy exploring the city and
opens space for the unexpected, such as that park that looked to be five minutes
away on the map, but is actually at the top of a steep hill!
San Francisco is a city of
beauty and dignity. It presents to the visitor a banquet of sights, sounds,
tastes and aromas to sample, to savor, and to remember forever.