Upon independence from Spain in 1821, the area became part of Mexico. Under Mexican rule, the mission system gradually ended, and its lands became privatized. In 1835, Englishman William Richardson erected the first independent homestead, near a boat anchorage around what is today Portsmouth Square. Together with AlcaldeFrancisco 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. Despite its attractive location as a port and naval base, San Francisco was still a small settlement with inhospitable geography.
The California Gold Rush brought a flood of treasure seekers. With their sourdough bread in tow, prospectors accumulated in San Francisco over rival Benicia, raising the population from 1,000 in 1848 to 25,000 by December 1849. The promise of fabulous riches was so strong that crews on arriving vessels deserted and rushed off to the gold fields, leaving behind a forest of masts in San Francisco harbor. California was quickly granted statehood, and the U.S. military built Fort Point at the Golden Gate and a fort on Alcatraz Island to secure the San Francisco Bay. Silver discoveries, including the Comstock Lode in 1859, further drove rapid population growth. 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.
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) helped make the Bay Area a center for trade. Catering to the needs and tastes of the growing population, Levi Strauss opened a dry goods business and Domingo Ghirardelli began manufacturing chocolate. Immigrant laborers made the city a polyglot culture, with Chinese railroad workers creating the city's Chinatown quarter. In 1870, Asians made up 8% of the population. 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. By 1890, San Francisco's population approached 300,000, making it the eighth-largest city in the U.S. at the time. Around 1901, San Francisco was a major city known for its flamboyant style, stately hotels, ostentatious mansions on Nob Hill, and a thriving arts scene. The first North American plague epidemic was the San Francisco plague of 1900–1904.
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. More than three-quarters of the city lay in ruins, including almost all of the downtown core. Contemporary accounts reported that 498 people lost their lives, though modern estimates put the number in the several thousands. More than half the city's population of 400,000 were left homeless. 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.
"Not in history has a modern imperial city been so completely destroyed. San Francisco is gone." –Jack London after the 1906 earthquake and fire
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. The onset of containerization made San Francisco's small piers obsolete, and cargo activity moved to the larger Port of Oakland. The city began to lose industrial jobs and turned to tourism as the most important segment of its economy. 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. From 1950 to 1980, the city lost over 10 percent of its population.
Bank of America completed 555 California Street in 1969 and the Transamerica Pyramid was completed in 1972, igniting a wave of "Manhattanization" that lasted until the late 1980s, a period of extensive high-rise development downtown. 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. The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake caused destruction and loss of life throughout the Bay Area. In San Francisco, the quake severely damaged structures in the Marina and South of Market districts and precipitated the demolition of the damaged Embarcadero Freeway and much of the damaged Central Freeway, allowing the city to reclaim its historic downtown waterfront and revitalizing the Hayes Valley neighborhood.
During the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, startup companies invigorated the 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. Demand for new housing and office space ignited a second wave of high-rise development, this time South of Market. By 2000, the city's population reached new highs, surpassing the previous record set in 1950. When the bubble burst in 2001, many of these companies folded and their employees were laid off. Yet high technology and entrepreneurship remain mainstays of the San Francisco economy with the social media boom fueling growth in the second decade of the new century.
San Francisco is famous for its hills. There are more than 50 hills within city limits. Some neighborhoods are named after the hill on which they are situated, including Nob Hill, Potrero Hill, and Russian Hill. Near the geographic center of the city, southwest of the downtown area, are a series of less densely populated hills. Twin Peaks, a pair of hills forming one of the city's highest points, forms a popular overlook spot. San Francisco's tallest hill, Mount Davidson, is 925 feet (282 m) high and is capped with a 103-foot (31 m) tall cross built in 1934. 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. However, there are still thousands of smaller buildings that remain vulnerable to quake damage.
San Francisco's shoreline has grown beyond its natural limits. Entire neighborhoods such as the Marina, Mission Bay, and Hunters Point, as well as large sections of the Embarcadero, sit on areas of landfill. Treasure Island was constructed from material dredged from the bay as well as material resulting from tunneling through Yerba Buena Island during the construction of the Bay Bridge. Such land tends to be unstable during earthquakes. The resulting liquefaction causes extensive damage to property built upon it, as was evidenced in the Marina district during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. 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.
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. The Haight is now home to some expensive boutiques and a few controversial chain stores, although it still retains some bohemian character. North of the Western Addition is Pacific Heights, a wealthy neighborhood that features the mansions built by the San Francisco business elite 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.
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. 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 and best known gay village, and is now the center of gay life in the city. Located near the city's southern border, the Excelsior District is one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in San Francisco. The predominately 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. 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.
A popular quote incorrectly attributed to Mark Twain is "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco". San Francisco's climate is characteristic of the cool-summer Mediterranean climate (Csb) of California’s coast, "generally characterized by moist mild winters and dry summers". Since it is surrounded on three sides by water, San Francisco's weather is strongly influenced by the cool currents of the Pacific Ocean, which moderate temperature swings and produce a remarkably mild year-round climate with little seasonal temperature variation.
Fog is a regular feature of San Francisco summers.
Among major U.S. cities, San Francisco has the coldest daily mean, maximum, and minimum temperatures for June, July, and August. 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. The fog is less pronounced in eastern neighborhoods and during the late summer and early fall, which is the warmest time of the year.
Because of its sharp topography and maritime influences, San Francisco exhibits a multitude of distinct microclimates. The high hills in the geographic center of the city are responsible for a 20% variance in annual rainfall between different parts of the city. They also protect neighborhoods directly to their east ("banana belts" such as Noe Valley) from the foggy and sometimes very cold and windy conditions experienced in the Sunset District; for those who live on the eastern side of the city, San Francisco is sunnier, with an average of 260 clear days, and only 105 cloudy days per year.
Temperatures reach or exceed 80 °F (27 °C) on an average of only 21 and 23 days a year at downtown and SFO, respectively. 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). 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). On average, there are 73 rainy days a year, and annual precipitation averages 23.65 inches (601 mm). Variation in precipitation from year to year is high. In 2013, a record low 5.59 in (142 mm) of rainfall was recorded at downtown San Francisco, where records have been kept since 1849; low records were shattered in much of the state. Snowfall in the city is very rare, with only 10 measurable accumulations recorded since 1852, most recently in 1976 when up to 5 inches (130 mm) fell on Twin Peaks.
The highest recorded temperature at the official National Weather Service office was 103 °F (39 °C) on July 17, 1988, and June 14, 2000. The lowest recorded temperature was 27 °F (−3 °C) on December 11, 1932. The National Weather Service provides a helpful visual aid 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 has a minority-majority population, as non-Hispanic whites comprise less than half of the population, 41.9%, down from 92.5% in 1940. The principal Hispanic groups in the city were those of Mexican (7.4%), Salvadoran (2.0%), Nicaraguan (0.9%), Guatemalan (0.8%), and Puerto Rican (0.5%), ancestry. The Hispanic population is most heavily concentrated in the Mission District, Tenderloin District, and Excelsior District. San Francisco's African American population has declined in recent decades, from 13.4% of the population in 1970 to 6.1%. The current percentage of African Americans in San Francisco is similar to that of the state of California; conversely, the city's percentage of Hispanic residents is less than half of that of the state. The majority of the city's black population reside within the neighborhoods of Bayview-Hunters Point, and Visitacion Valley in southeastern San Francisco, and in the Fillmore District in the northeastern part of the city.
After declining in the 1970s and 1980s, the Filipino community in the city has experienced a significant resurgence. The San Francisco Bay Area is home to over 382,950 Filipino Americans, one of the largest communities of Filipinos outside of the Philippines. 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. Koreans and Japanese have a large presence in the Western Addition, which is where the city's Japantown is located. The Pacific Islander population is 0.4% (0.8% including those with partial ancestry). Over half of the Pacific Islander population is of Samoan descent, with residence in the Bayview-Hunters Point and Visitacion Valley areas; Pacific Islanders make up more than three percent of the population in both communities.
Native-born Californians form a relatively small percentage of the city's population: only 37.7% of its residents were born in California, while 25.2% were born in a different U.S. state. More than a third of city residents (35.6%) were born outside the United States.
Of all major cities, San Francisco has the second-highest percentage of residents with a college degree, behind only Seattle. Over 44% of adults within the city limits have a bachelor's or higher degree.USA Today reported that Rob Pitingolo, a researcher who measured college graduates per square mile, found that 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 km2).
The Census reported that 780,971 people (97.0% of the population) lived in households, 18,902 (2.3%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 5,362 (0.7%) were institutionalized. There were 345,811 households, out of which 63,577 (18.4%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 109,437 (31.6%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 28,844 (8.3%) had a female householder with no spouse present, 12,748 (3.7%) had a male householder with no spouse present. There were 21,677 (6.3%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 10,384 (3.0%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 133,366 households (38.6%) were made up of individuals and 34,234 (9.9%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26. There were 151,029 families (43.7% of all households); the average family size was 3.11. There were 376,942 housing units, at an average density of 1,625.5 per square mile (627.6/km2), of which 123,646 (35.8%) were owner-occupied, and 222,165 (64.2%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 2.3%; the rental vacancy rate was 5.4%. 327,985 people (40.7% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 452,986 people (56.3%) lived in rental housing units.
According to the 2005 American Community Survey, San Francisco has the highest percentage of gay and lesbian individuals of any of the 50 largest U.S. cities, at 15.4%. 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.
Income in 2011
Per capita income
Median household income
Median family income
San Francisco ranks third of American cities in median household income with a 2007 value of $65,519. Median family income is $81,136, and San Francisco ranks 8th of major cities worldwide in the number of billionaires known to be living within city limits. Following a national trend, an emigration of middle-class families is contributing to widening income disparity and has left the city with a lower proportion of children, 14.5%, than any other large American city.
The city's poverty rate is 11.8% and the number of families in poverty stands at 7.4%, both lower than the national average. The unemployment rate stands at 5.3% as of January 2014.Homelessness has been a chronic and controversial problem for San Francisco since the early 1980s. The homeless population is estimated to be 13,500 with 6,500 living on the streets. The city is believed to have the highest number of homeless inhabitants per capita of any major U.S. city.Rates of reported violent and property crimes for 2009 (736 and 4,262 incidents per 100,000 residents, respectively) are slightly lower than for similarly sized U.S. cities.
The age distribution of the city was as follows: 107,524 people (13.4%) under the age of 18, 77,664 people (9.6%) aged 18 to 24, 301,802 people (37.5%) aged 25 to 44, 208,403 people (25.9%) aged 45 to 64, and 109,842 people (13.6%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38.5 years. For every 100 females there were 102.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.8 males.
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. In 2012, approximately 25% of workers were employed in professional business services; 16% in government services; 15% in leisure and hospitality; 11% in education and health care; and 9% in financial activities. In 2012, GDP in the five-county San Francisco metropolitan area grew by 7.4%, to US$360.4 billion; this was the fastest growth in the United States.
Tourism is one of the city's largest private-sector industries, accounting for more than one out of seven jobs in the city. The city's frequent portrayal in music, film, and popular culture has made the city and its landmarks recognizable worldwide. San Francisco attracts the fifth-highest number of foreign tourists of any city in the U.S.[dated info] and ranks 43rd out of the 100 most visited cities worldwide according to Euromonitor International. More than 16.9 million visitors arrived in San Francisco in 2013, injecting US$9.4 billion into the economy. 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.
The top employer in the city is the city government itself, employing 5.3% (25,000+ people) of the city's population, followed by UCSF with over 22,000 employees. Third—at 1.8% (8,500+ people)—is California Pacific Medical Center, the largest private-sector employer. Small businesses with fewer than 10 employees and self-employed firms make up 85% of city establishments, and the number of San Franciscans employed by firms of more than 1,000 employees has fallen by half since 1977. 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 supports a publicity campaign to keep a larger share of retail dollars in the local economy, and the Board of Supervisors has used the planning code to limit the neighborhoods where formula retail establishments can set up shop, an effort affirmed by San Francisco voters.
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. As of 2014, 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.
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 U.S. by Walkscore.com. 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, cafes and nightlife such as Union Street in Cow Hollow, 24th Street in Noe Valley, Valencia Street in the Mission, 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.
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. 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, creating a large and upscale restaurant, retail, and entertainment scene. According to a 2008 quality of life survey of global cities, San Francisco has the second highest quality of living of any U.S. city. 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.
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, San Francisco has numerous neighborhoods filled with businesses and civic institutions catering to new arrivals. In particular, the arrival of many ethnic Chinese, which accelerated beginning 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 outside China.
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 U.S., José Sarria; the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the U.S., 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. 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 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 our natural environment. The 1980 San Francisco Recycling Program was one of the earliest curbside recycling programs. 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. SF Greasecycle is a program to recycle used cooking oil for conversion to biodiesel.
The newly completed Sunset Reservoir Solar Project has installed 25,000 solar panels on the 480,000 sq ft (45,000 m2) 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.
The American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) has been a force in Bay Area performing arts since its arrival in San Francisco in 1967, regularly staging productions. San Francisco frequently hosts national touring productions of Broadway theatre shows in a number of vintage 1920s-era venues in the Theater District including the Curran, Orpheum, and Golden Gate Theatres.
San Francisco Pro-Am Basketball League is an important summer league venue for aspiring players to be discovered by talent scouts. Games are held at the 4,000 seat Kezar Pavilion. Players from all levels participate with regular appearances by off season NBA professionals.
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, and the Embarcadero and Marina Green are favored sites for skateboarding. Extensive public tennis facilities are available in Golden Gate Park and Dolores Park, as well as at smaller neighborhood courts throughout the city. San Francisco residents have often ranked among the fittest in the U.S.
Historic Aquatic Park located along the northern San Francisco shore hosts two swimming and rowing clubs. The South End Rowing Club, established in 1873, and the Dolphin Club maintain a friendly rivalry between members. Swimmers can be seen daily braving the typically cold bay waters.
Amateur men's soccer has been played in San Francisco since 1902 through the San Francisco Soccer Football League. Over 40 teams in 4 divisions play throughout the city between the months of March and November. Premier Division games are played at the 3,500 seat Boxer Stadium. Amateur women's soccer is played on over 30 teams in the Golden Gate Women's Soccer League.
Cycling is growing in San Francisco. 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. The MTA estimates that about 128,000 trips are made by bicycle each day in the city, or 6% of total trips. Improvements in cycling infrastructure in recent years, including additional bike lanes and parking racks, has made cycling in San Francisco safer and more convenient. Since 2006, San Francisco has received a Bicycle Friendly Community status of "Gold" from the League of American Bicyclists.
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. It is the only such consolidation in California. 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.
The members of the Board of Supervisors are elected as representatives of specific districts within the city. 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, Edwin M. Lee was selected by the Board to finish the term of Gavin Newsom, who resigned to take office as Lieutenant Governor of California.
The municipal budget for fiscal year 2013–14 was $7.9 billion. The city employs around 27,000 workers.
The following table includes the number of incidents reported and the rate per 1,000 persons for each type of offense.
Population and crime rates
Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter
Motor vehicle theft
In 2011, 50 murders were reported, which is 6.1 per 100,000 people. 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. 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 homelessness, drug abuse, gang violence, and prostitution. Another area with high crime rates is the Bayview-Hunters Point area. Homelessness is also a growing problem in the city.
Several street gangs operate in the city, including MS-13, the Sureños and Norteños in the Mission District, and to some extent the Crips in Bayview - Hunters-Point. There is a presence of Asian gangs in Chinatown. In 1977, an ongoing rivalry between two Chinese gangs led to a shooting attack at a 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. In 1990, a gang-related shooting killed one man and wounded six others outside a nightclub near Chinatown. In 1998, six teenagers were shot and wounded at the Chinese Playground; a 16-year-old boy was subsequently arrested.
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.Golden Gate University is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational university formed in 1901 and located in the Financial District. It is primarily a post-graduate institution focused on professional training in law and business, with smaller undergraduate programs linked to its graduate and professional schools.
The San Francisco Bay Area is the sixth-largest TV market and the fourth-largest radio market in the U.S. The city's oldest radio station, KCBS (AM), 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.
San Francisco inventors have made significant marks on modern media. In 1877 Eadweard Muybridge pioneered work in photographic studies of motion and in motion-picture projection from. 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.
State Route 1 also enters San Francisco from the north via the Golden Gate Bridge, but turns south away from the routing of U.S. 101, first onto Park Presidio Blvd through Golden Gate Park, and then bisecting the west side of the city as the 19th Avenue arterial thoroughfare, joining with Interstate 280 at the city's southern border. Interstate 280 continues this southerly routing along the central portion of the Peninsula south to San Jose. Interstate 280 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 decided to demolish the Embarcadero Freeway as well, and voters approved demolition of a portion of the Central Freeway, converting them into street-level boulevards.
32% of San Francisco residents use public transportation in daily commuting to work, ranking it first on the West Coast and third overall in the United States. The San Francisco Municipal Railway, 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. The system operates both a combined light rail and subway system, the Muni Metro, and a large bus network. Additionally, it runs a historic streetcar line, which runs on Market Street from Castro Street to Fisherman's Wharf. It also operates the famous cable cars, which have been designated as a National Historic Landmark and are a major tourist attraction.
The Golden Gate Ferry M/V Del Norte docked at the Ferry Building.
Megabus recently relaunched intercity bus service in California and Nevada. San Francisco riders can chose from three routes (SF-San Jose-LA, SF-Oakland-LA, & SF-Sacramento-Reno). The San Francisco stop is located in front of the Caltrain Station. BoltBus began service between the Bay Area and Los Angeles in October 2013.
San Francisco International Airport (Located in San Mateo County but operated by San Francisco) is the primary airport of San Francisco and the San Francisco Bay Area.
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 and Virgin America. SFO is a major international gateway to Asia and Europe, with the largest international terminal in North America. In 2011, SFO was the 8th busiest airport in the U.S. and 22nd busiest in the world, handling over 40.9 million passengers.
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.
The Port of San Francisco was once the largest and busiest seaport on the West Coast. It featured rows of piers perpendicular to the shore, where cargo from the moored ships was handled by cranes and manual labor and transported to nearby warehouses. The port handled cargo to and from trans-Pacific and Atlantic destinations, and was the West Coast center of the lumber trade. The 1934 West Coast Longshore Strike, an important episode in the history of the American labor movement, brought most ports to a standstill. The advent of container shipping made pier-based ports obsolete, and most commercial berths moved to the Port of Oakland and Port of Richmond. A few active berths specializing in break bulk cargo remain alongside the Islais Creek Channel.
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. The port's other activities now focus on developing waterside assets to support recreation and tourism.
The port currently uses Pier 35 to handle the 60-80 cruise ship calls and 200,000 passengers that come to San Francisco. Itineraries from San Francisco usually include round trip cruises to Alaska and Mexico. The new James R. Herman Cruise Terminal Project at Pier 27 is scheduled to open 2014 as a replacement. The existing primary terminal at Pier 35 has neither the sufficient capacity to allow for the increasing length and passenger capacity of new cruise ships nor the amenities needed for an international cruise terminal.
On March 16, 2013, Princess CruisesGrand Princess became the first ship to home port in San Francisco year round. The ship offers cruises to Alaska, California Coasts, Hawaii, and Mexico. Grand Princess will be stationed in San Francisco until April 2014. Princess will also operate other ships during the summer of 2014, making it the only cruise line home porting year round in San Francisco.
San Francisco has significantly higher rates of pedestrian and bicyclist traffic deaths than the USA on average. In 2013, 21 pedestrians were killed in vehicle collisions, the highest since 2001, which is 2.5 deaths per 100,000 population - 70% higher than the national average of 1.5 deaths per 100,000 population. Four bicyclists were killed in vehicle collisions in 2013, a rate twice as high as the national average of 0.23 deaths per 100,000 population. On January 14, 2014, Supervisor Jane Kim introduced Vision Zero, a proposal to eliminate all traffic fatalities in San Francisco by 2024.
Sullivan, James (October 14, 2003). "Frisco, that once-verboten term". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
"Don't Call It Frisco". San Francisco Examiner, San Francisco Chronicle. April 3, 1918. p. 6. Retrieved July 11, 2011.
Though many residents still maintain that the nickname "Frisco" is taboo, many residents, especially younger and working-class natives, have kept this term alive and well. In any case, this is a matter of ongoing speculation that reflects certain cultural divisions within the city. Sullivan, James (October 14, 2003). "Frisco, that once-verboten term for the city by the bay, is making a comeback among the young and hip. Herb Caen is spinning at warp speed.". San Francisco Chronicle. p. D-1. Retrieved June 12, 2008.
Some tourists refer to San Francisco as "Frisco." However, locals discourage this. Samuel D. Cohen writes that many credit "Friscophobia" to newspaper columnist Herb Caen, whose first book, published in 1953, was "Don't Call it Frisco" after a 1918 newspaper article of the same name. Caen was considered by many to be the recognized authority on what was, and what was not, beneath the city's dignity, and to him, Frisco was intolerable. Cohen, Sam (September 11, 1997). "Locals know best: only tourists call it 'Frisco'". Golden Gater Online. San Francisco State University. Archived from the original on 1997-11-23. Retrieved July 13, 2008.
"PPIE: The City That Knows How". Amusing America. San Francisco Public Library. March 29, 2005. Retrieved June 14, 2008.
Caen, Herb (1949). Baghdad-by-the-Bay. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-89174-047-6. OCLC 31060237. LC F869.S3 C12.
"The City". UnknownWW2InColor. UnknownWW2InColor (Ramano-Archives). 1939. Retrieved June 5, 2009.
"San Francisco: Government". SFGov.org. Retrieved March 8, 2012. "San Francisco was incorporated as a City on April 15th, 1850 by act of the Legislature."
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^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population - Counties".
^ "Board of Supervisors – Does San Francisco have a City Council?". SFGov SF311. Archived from the original on July 26, 2010. Retrieved June 16, 2008.
"State & County QuickFacts, San Francisco (city), California". US Census Bureau. Retrieved 2011.
^ After New York City, only for cities with greater than 200,000 population. Otherwise it is not 2nd."2000 Census: US Municipalities Over 50,000: Ranked by 2000 Density". Demographia. Retrieved August 23, 2007.
^ Edward F. O'Day (October 1926). "The Founding of San Francisco". San Francisco Water. Spring Valley Water Authority. Retrieved February 14, 2009.
^ Coy, Owen Cochran (1919). Guide to the County Archives of California. Sacramento, California: California Historical Survey Commission. p. 409.
^ Montagne, Renée (April 11, 2006). "Remembering the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake". People & Places (National Public Radio). Retrieved June 13, 2008.
^ "Port of Embarkation Essay—World War II in the San Francisco Bay Area". A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary:. US Department of the Interior. August 28, 2007. Retrieved June 22, 2011.
Top U.S. Destinations for International Visitors. The Hotel Price Index. Retrieved on 2014-04-12.
Stewart, Suzanne B. (November 2003). "Archaeological Research Issues For The Point Reyes National Seashore – Golden Gate National Recreation Area" (PDF). Sonoma State University – Anthropological Studies Center. Retrieved June 12, 2008.
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The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco (July 16, 2004). "From the 1820s to the Gold Rush". The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco. Retrieved June 13, 2008.
"History of Yerba Buena Gardens". MJM Management Group. 2004. Retrieved June 13, 2008.[dead link]
Wiley, Peter Booth (2000). National trust guide- San Francisco: America’s guide for architecture and history travelers. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. pp. 4–5. ISBN 978-0-471-19120-9. OCLC 44313415.
Sourdough bread was a staple of western explorers and miners of the 19th century. It became an iconic symbol of San Francisco, and is still a staple of city life today.Tamony, Peter (October 1973). "Sourdough and French Bread". Western Folklore (Western States Folklore Society) 32 (4): 265–270. doi:10.2307/1498306.
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^ Richards, Rand (1992). Historic San Francisco: A Concise History and Guide. Heritage House. ISBN 978-1-879367-00-5. OCLC 214330849.
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Wiley, Peter Booth (2000). National trust guide- San Francisco: America’s guide for architecture and history travelers. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. pp. 31–33. ISBN 978-0-471-19120-9. OCLC 44313415.
"The miners came in forty-nine, / The whores in fifty-one, / And when they got together / They produced the native son." Wiley, Peter Booth (2000). National trust guide- San Francisco: America’s guide for architecture and history travelers. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. pp. 237–238. ISBN 978-0-471-19120-9. OCLC 44313415.
Construction of the Pacific Railroad was partially (albeit reluctantly) funded by the under the provisions of "An Act to Authorize the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco to take and subscribe One Million Dollars to the Capital Stock of the Western Pacific Rail Road Company and the Central Pacific Rail Road Company of California and to provide for the payment of the same and other matters relating thereto." approved on April 22, 1863, as amended by §5 of the "Compromise Act of 1864" approved on April 4, 1864. The bond issue was objected to by the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors, however, and they were not delivered to the WPRR and CPRR until 1865 after Writs of Mandamus ordering such were issued by the Supreme Court of the State of California in 1864 ("The People of the State of California on the relation of the Central Pacific Railroad Company vs. Henry P. Coon, Mayor; Henry M. Hale, Auditor; and Joseph S. Paxson, Treasurer, of the City and County of San Francisco" 25 Cal 635) and 1865 ("The People ex rel The Central Pacific Railroad Company of California vs.The Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco, and Wilhelm Lowey, Clerk" 27 Cal 655)
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All data are derived from the United States Census Bureau reports from the 2010 United States Census, and are accessible on-line here. The data on unmarried partnerships and same-sex married couples are from the Census report DEC_10_SF1_PCT15. All other housing and population data are from Census report DEC_10_DP_DPDP1. Both reports are viewable online or downloadable in a zip file containing a comma-delimited data file. The area data, from which densities are calculated, are available on-line here. Percentage totals may not add to 100% due to rounding. The Census Bureau defines families as a household containing one or more people related to the householder by birth, opposite-sex marriage, or adoption. People living in group quarters are tabulated by the Census Bureau as neither owners nor renters. For further details, see the text files accompanying the data files containing the Census reports mentioned above.
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