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San Francisco, California:

San Francisco, California is the commercial, financial and cultural center of Northern California and the only consolidated city-county in the entire state. It encompasses a land area of about 121 square kilometers on the northern end of the San Francisco Peninsula, making it the smallest county in the state. With a density of about 7,022 people per square kilometer, it is the most densely settled large city in the state of California and the second-most densely populated major city in the US. The city and its surrounding areas comprise the San Francisco Bay Area, which is a part of the larger San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland combined statistical area.

History:

The earliest archaeological evidence of human settlement in San Francisco, California dates back to 3000 BC, where the Yelamu group of the Ohlone people resided in a few small villages when an overland Spanish exploration party arrived on November 2, 1769. Seven years later, the Spanish established the Presidio of San Francisco, which was followed by the Mission San Francisco de Asís that was established by the Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza.

Upon its independence from Spain in 1821, the area became part of Mexico, when the mission system ended privatizing its lands. In 1835, Englishman William Richardson erected the first independent homestead and laid out a street plan for the expanded settlement, named Yerba Buena, which started to attract American settlers. In 1846, Commodore John D. Sloat claimed California for the US during the Mexican-American War, and Captain John B. Montgomery claim Yerba Buena 2 days later, renaming the place San Francisco the next year. Despite its attractive location as a port and naval base, San Francisco was still a small settlement with inhospitable geography.

The place was where the California Gold Rush occurred, which brought a flood of treasure seekers. 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 the San Francisco harbor. California was then quickly granted statehood, and the US military built Fort Point at the Golden Gate and a fort on Alcatraz Island to secure the San Francisco Bay. Discoveries of silver further drove rapid population growth in the city. Entrepreneurs sought to capitalize on the wealth generated by the Gold Rush, where the early winners were the banking industry, with the founding of Wells Fargo in 1852 and the Bank of California in 1864. This also led to more developments in infrastructures, raising the region’s economy.

San Francisco, California then became a magnet for counterculture in the entire country, where Beat Generation writers fueled the San Francisco Renaissance and centered on the North Beach neighborhood in the 1950s. Hippies flocked to Haight- Ashbury in the 1960s and reached a peak with the 1967 Summer of Love. 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.

The last 2 decades have seen a couple of booms brought about by the internet industry, including the “dot-com” boom in the late 1990s, where start-up companies invigorated the economy of San Francisco. During this period, large numbers of computer application developers and entrepreneurs moved into the city, who were followed by design, marketing and sales professionals, changing the social landscape as the once-poorer neighborhoods became increasingly gentrified. The demand for new office and housing space then kick-started the next wave of high-rise development, and this time, it happened in the south of the market. By 2000, San Francisco’s population reached new highs, which surpassed the previous record set in 1950.

After the Bubble Burst in 2001, a lot of companies in the city folded, with huge volumes of employees being laid off. Yet, entrepreneurship and high technology remained mainstays of San Francisco’s economy. The social media boom began in the mid 2000s, with the city becoming a popular location for technology offices and homes for people employed in Silicon Valley companies, such as Google.

Law and Government:

San Francisco, California is a consolidated city-county, which is a status it is holding since the 1856 secession of what is now San Mateo County. In fact, it is the only such type of consolidation in the entire state. The mayor also acts as the county executive, and the County Board of Supervisors acts as the city council. Its form of government is a charter city, which is constituted of 2 co-equal branches, namely the executive branch, which is headed by the mayor and includes other citywide elected and appointed officials, and the legislative branch (Board of Supervisors), which is headed by a president and is responsible for passing budgets and laws, though residents in San Francisco also make use of direct ballot initiatives to pass legislation.

The Board of Supervisors members are elected as representatives of specific districts within the city, and upon the resignation or death of mayor, the board’s president would become the acting mayor until an interim replacement will be elected.

Economy:

San Francisco, California has a diversified service economy, with employment spreading across an array of professional services, including tourism, financial services and high technology. In 2012, approximately a 25% of employees were hired in professional business services; 15% in leisure and hospitality; 16% in government services; 9% in financial activities; and 11% in education and health care. In 2013, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the 5 counties in the metropolitan area was USD 388.3 billion.

Tourism:

Known for its cool summers, steep rolling hills, fog, eclectic mix of architecture and landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the former Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, cable cars, and its Chinatown district, San Francisco, California is a popular tourist destination. It is also the headquarters of 5 major banking institutions and various other companies, such as Gap Inc., Levi Strauss & Co., Dropbox, Salesforce.com, Square, Inc., Reddit, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Airbnb, Yelp, Weebly, Twitter, Pinterest, Mozilla, Uber, Craigslist and Wikimedia Foundation. It has several nicknames, including “San Fran”, “Fog City”, “The City by the Bay” and “Frisco”, as well as antiquated ones, like “Baghdad by the Bay”, “The City that Knows How” and “The Paris of the West”.

As one of the city’s largest private-sector industries, tourism accounts for more than 1 out of 7 jobs in the city. San Francisco’s frequent portrayal in films, music and popular culture has made it and its landmarks recognized around the world. In fact, it attracts the fifth-highest number of foreign visitors of any city in the US and ranks 50th out of the 100 most visited cities worldwide, according to “Euromonitor International”. Over 18 million tourists arrived in the city in 2014, injecting USD 10.67 billion into the country’s economy. With a world-class convention facility at the Moscone Center and huge hotel infrastructures, San Francisco is a popular destination for annual conferences and conventions.

Entertainment and Performing Arts:

The War Memorial and Performing Arts Center in San Francisco, California hosts some of the most enduring performing-arts companies in the US, where the War Memorial Opera House houses the San Francisco Opera, the second-largest opera company in North America, and the San Francisco Ballet. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Symphony plays in Davies Symphony Hall.

In the Western Addition, you will find the Fillmore music venue, which is the 2nd incarnation of the historic venue that gained fame in the 1960s, housing the stage where now-famous musicians, such as the Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Led Zeppelin first performed, fostering the San Francisco Sound. The city has a large number live performance venues and theaters, where local theater companies have been noted for innovation and risk-taking. The Tony Award-winning non-profit American Conservatory Theater (ACT) is a member of the National League of Resident Theatres, while other local winners of the Regional Theatre Tony Awards include the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Theaters in the city frequently host pre- Broadway engagements and tryout runs, but some original productions of San Francisco have later moved to Broadway.

Climate:

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” – This is a popular quote that was incorrectly attributed to Mark Twain. Well, the climate in San Francisco, California is characterized by the cool-summer Mediterranean climate of its coast, generally the dry summers and moist mild winters. Since the city is surrounded on 3 sides by water, its weather is strongly influenced by the cool currents of the Pacific Ocean, of which moderate temperatures swing and produce a remarkably mild climate all year round, with little seasonal temperature variation.

Among the major cities in the US, San Francisco has the coolest daily mean, minimum and maximum temperatures for June, July and August. During the summer, the rising hot air in the interior valleys of the state creates a low pressure area that draws winds from the North Pacific High through the Golden Gate, creating the city’s characteristic fog and cool winds. With its own Twitter account, the fog is less pronounced in eastern neighborhoods during the late summer and early fall, which is the warmest time of the year.