Francisco, located on the coast of California, occupies a peninsula that
is the southern landfall of the Golden Gate, a narrow channel connecting
the Pacific Ocean with San Francisco Bay, one of the world's most
beautiful natural harbors. Spanning the channel is the GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE,
long a symbol of the city as the U.S. port of entry on the Pacific coast.
The population of the city proper grew by 6.6% between 1980 and 1990 (1990
census, 723,959) after a decline between 1970 and 1980.
The population of metropolitan San Francisco is 1,603,678.
The city is co-extensive with San Francisco County and is governed
by a mayor and a board of supervisors.
Francisco is a popular tourist city, offering spectacular views from its
43 hills. The weather remains
mild throughout the year, with average monthly temperatures differing
little from January (9.4 deg C/49 deg F) to September (18 deg C/64 deg F).
The annual rainfall averages 508 mm (20 in).
Francisco today has an economy very much dependent on white-collar
industries. A skyline of
high-rise office buildings, dominated by the Transamerica Building and the
Bank of America tower, marks the downtown terminus of the Bay Area Rapid
Transit (BART), one of the country's most modern high-speed mass-transit
systems. On Russian and Nob
Hills, stately mansions have been replaced by luxury apartment buildings
and hotels. The last three
cable car lines, now designated national historic landmarks, still cross
the hills. To the east of Nob Hill lies Chinatown, one of the largest
Chinese communities outside Asia, and Telegraph Hill, the location of the
first western telegraph station. Fisherman's
Wharf, a commercial fishing port established by 19th-century Italian
immigrants, is now a row of restaurants, souvenir shops, and motels.
Nearby, The Cannery and Ghirardelli Square, once fruit canning and
chocolate plants, respectively, now house specialty shops, restaurants,
and art galleries. Within San
Francisco Bay is the former federal prison, ALCATRAZ.
Francisco is a major educational and cultural center. The University of San Francisco (1855), the University of
California-San Francisco (1873), and San Francisco State University (1899)
are located in the city. The Opera House, home of the San Francisco Ballet
as well as the SAN FRANCISCO OPERA ASSOCIATION, was the nation's first
city-owned opera house; it
was also the birthplace (1945) of the United Nations.
The city also maintains a symphony orchestra and three museums (see
SAN FRANCISCO ART MUSEUMS). The
California Academy of Sciences (1853) operates the Morrison Planetarium
and the Steinhart Aquarium.
Presidio, on the north coast of the city, was established as a Spanish
fort in 1776. (It remains a
U.S. military reservation.) The first civilian settlement, named Yerba
Buena, was established in 1835. During
the Mexican War it was taken by U.S.
forces and renamed San Francisco. The 1849 California gold rush and
the 1859 Comstock Lode silver strike spurred the city's growth.
Waves of immigrants arrived, and large Chinese, Italian, Filipino,
and Japanese communities were established. On Apr.
18, 1906, San Francisco suffered a major earthquake; the resulting
3-day fire razed the core of the city.
The city was quickly rebuilt. During World War II it became a
bustling port of embarkation for the military.
A strong earthquake in 1989 extensively damaged the Marina
referred to simply as "The City," San Francisco has been the
home of such groups as the Bohemians of the 1890s, the Beats of the 1950s
(see BEAT GENERATION), and the "flower children" who congregated
around Haight-Ashbury in the 1960s.
(from Toolworks Multimedia Encyclopedia).