Tag Archives: San Francisco

Dumbarton Bridge

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dumbarton Bridge (California)

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Opera Snapshot_2017-11-05_065321_en.wikipedia.org

The Dumbarton Bridge is the southernmost of the highway bridges across San Francisco Bay in California. Carrying over 81,000 vehicles daily, it is the shortest bridge across San Francisco Bay at 1.63 miles (8,600 ft; 2,620 m). Its eastern end is in Fremont, near Newark in the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, and its western end is in Menlo Park. Bridging State Route 84 across the bay, it has three lanes each way and a separated bike/pedestrian lane along its south side. Like the San Mateo Bridge to the north, power lines parallel the bridge.

Contents
1 Tolls
2 Environmental factors
3 History and engineering features
4 Roadway Connections
5 Dumbarton Rail Bridge
6 Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct

Tolls


Tolls are only collected from westbound traffic at the toll plaza on the east side of the bay. Since July 2010, the toll rate for passenger cars is $5. For vehicles with more than two axles, the toll rate is $5 per axle. Drivers may either pay by cash or use the FasTrak electronic toll collection device. There are seven toll lanes at the plaza. During peak traffic hours, the leftmost lane is designated a FasTrak-only HOV lane, allowing carpool vehicles carrying two or more people or motorcycles to pass for a toll of $2.50. The next two leftmost lanes are FasTrak-only lanes for all vehicles, and all other lanes accept both cash and FasTrak. During non-peak hours the HOV lane is open to vehicles carrying only one person, but remains FasTrak-only.

Environmental Factors


When the current bridge was planned in the 1970s, Caltrans conducted extensive environmental research on the aquatic and terrestrial environment. Principal concerns of the public were air pollution and noise pollution impacts, particularly in some residential areas of Menlo Park and East Palo Alto. Studies were conducted to produce contour maps of projected sound levels and carbon monoxide concentrations throughout the western approaches, for each alternative connection scheme.

The area around the bridge is an important ecological area, hosting many species of birds, fish and mammals. The endangered species California clapper rail is known to be present in the western bridge terminus area.

Near the bridge on the Peninsula are Menlo Park’s Bayfront Park, East Palo Alto’s Ravenswood Open Space Preserve, and the Palo Alto Baylands Nature Preserve. An accessible portion of the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge lies immediately north of the western bridge terminus, where the Ravenswood trail runs.

On both sides of the east end of the bridge are large salt ponds and levee trails belonging to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The headquarters and visitor center for the refuge is on a hill south of the bridge approach. North of the east end of the bridge is Coyote Hills Regional Park, with its network of trails running over tall hills. North of that is the Alameda Creek Regional Trail from the Bay to Niles Canyon. East of Coyote Hills is Ardenwood Historic Farm, a restored working farm that preserves and displays turn-of-the-century farming methods

History and Engineering Features


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The original vertical-lift span of the Dumbarton Bridge, shown in 1984 shortly before it was demolished

The bridge has never been officially named, but its commonly used name comes from Dumbarton Point, named in 1876 after Dumbarton, Scotland. Built originally to provide a shortcut for traffic originating in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, the bridge served industrial and residential areas on both sides. The earlier bridge opened on January 17, 1927 and was the first vehicular bridge to cross San Francisco Bay. A portion of this old drawbridge remains as a fishing pier on the east side of the Bay. The original bridge was built with private capital and then purchased by the state for $2.5 million in 1951.

Its age and the two-lane undivided roadway and lift-span led to a replacement bridge, built to the north. This bridge opened in October 1982 as a four-lane, high-level structure. The structure was re-striped to accommodate six lanes on October 18, 1989 in response to the temporary closing of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge due to the Loma Prieta earthquake, and the permanent widening of the approaches was completed by July 2003. The cost of the complete replacement project was $200 million. The current bridge includes a two-way bicycle and separate pedestrian path on the south-facing side. A 340 ft (104 m) center span provides 85 ft (26 m) of vertical clearance for shipping. The approach spans on both sides of the Bay are of pre-stressed lightweight concrete girders supporting a lightweight concrete deck. The center spans are twin steel trapezoidal girders which also support a lightweight concrete deck. In 1970 the movie Harold and Maude was filmed at the toll plaza and showed Maude speeding and disobeying a police officer.

The center span of the original bridge was demolished in a controlled explosion in September 1984.

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A view from the air, above Palo Alto, looking towards Fremont

Roadway Connections


The bridge is part of State Route 84, and is directly connected to Interstate 880 by a freeway segment north of the Fremont end. There is no freeway connection between U.S. 101 and the southwest end of the Dumbarton Bridge. Motorists must traverse one of three at-grade routes to connect from the Bayshore Freeway to the bridge. These are (from northwest to southeast):

  1. the Bayfront Expressway, a limited-access road linking to U.S. 101 at Marsh Road, Atherton (the official routing of SR 84)
  2. Willow Road (SR 114), an approximately one-mile expressway through east Menlo Park to U.S. 101
  3. University Avenue (SR 109), an arterial road and the main commercial street of East Palo Alto.

The Willow Road and University Avenue junctions with Bayfront Expressway are at-grade intersections controlled by traffic lights; there are two additional controlled intersections at Chilco Road and Marsh Road, and the Marsh Road interchange on U.S. 101 is a parclo. The result is that Bayfront Expressway is frequently congested, and when not congested is often the site of high-speed car crashes. In 2007, prominent author David Halberstam was killed in one such crash at the Willow Road intersection.

Access to I-280 is available via State Route 84 to Woodside Road (as signed) or other arterial routes. There are no cross-Peninsula freeway connections between State Routes 92 and 85 (which is so far south that it technically lies in Silicon Valley and not on the Peninsula). In addition, there are no direct cross-Peninsula arterial routes between State Route 84 and Page Mill Road, a five-mile gap.

Although the present situation has resulted in severe traffic problems on the bridge itself and in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, Caltrans has been unable to upgrade the relevant portion of Highway 84 to freeway standards for several decades, due to opposition from the cities of Menlo Park, Atherton and Palo Alto. Freeway opponents fear that upgrading Highway 84 will encourage more people to live in southern Alameda County (where housing is more affordable) and commute to jobs in the mid-Peninsula area (where businesses wish to be located in order to be close to Silicon Valley), thus increasing traffic in their neighborhoods to the south and west of U.S. 101.

Bus service across the bridge is provided by the Dumbarton Express, run by a consortium of local transit agencies (SamTrans, AC Transit, VTA and others) which connects to BART at Union City and Caltrain at Palo Alto and California Avenue. AC Transit also runs Transbay buses U (Fremont BART and Amtrak to Stanford) and DA (Ardenwood to Oracle and Facebook headquarters) across the bridge. The free Stanford Marguerite Shuttle also runs buses AE-F and EB across the bridge.

Dumbarton Rail Bridge


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Dumbarton Rail Bridge 2007 (seen from a kayak)

Just to the south of the car bridge lies the Dumbarton Rail Bridge. Built in 1910, the rail bridge has been unused since 1982 and its western approach collapsed in a fire in 1998. When the bridge was in use, boaters would signal the operator, who would start a diesel engine and rotate the bridge to the open position on a large gear. The bridge is now left in the open position as shown. There are plans for a new rail bridge and rehabilitation of the rail line to serve a commuter rail service to connect Union City, Fremont, and Newark to various Peninsula destinations. A successful March 2004 regional transportation ballot measure included funding to rehabilitate the rail bridge for the commuter rail service, but in October 2008 the Metropolitan Transportation Commission transferred $91 million from this project to the BART Warm Springs Extension Project in Fremont.

Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct


Between the Dumbarton Bridge and the Dumbarton Rail Bridge is the Bay crossing of the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct. The aqueduct rises above ground in Newark at the east side of the Bay, falls below the water’s surface at a pump station in Fremont, re-emerges in the middle of the Bay and then continues above water until it reaches the west side of the Bay at Menlo Park.

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San Mateo–Hayward Bridge

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Aerial view of the San Mateo–Hayward Bridge, with Foster City in the foreground

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San Francisco Bay Bridges

San Mateo–Hayward Bridge

The San Mateo–Hayward Bridge (commonly called the San Mateo Bridge) is a bridge crossing the U.S. state of California’s San Francisco Bay, linking the San Francisco Peninsula with the East Bay. The bridge’s western end is in Foster City, a suburb on the eastern edge of San Mateo. The eastern end of the bridge is in Hayward. It is the longest bridge in California and the 25th longest in the world by length. The bridge is owned by the state of California, and is maintained by Caltrans, the state highway agency. Further oversight is provided by the Bay Area Toll Authority.

The bridge is part of State Route 92, whose western terminus is at the town of Half Moon Bay on the Pacific coast. It links Interstate 880 in the East Bay with U.S. Route 101 on the Peninsula. It is roughly parallel to and lies between the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge and the Dumbarton Bridge, and is sometimes used by commuters to avoid traffic delays due to emergencies on those bridges.

Contents
1 History and description
1.1 1929 original bridge
1.2 1967 orthotropic bridge
1.3 Upgrades and repairs
1.3.1 Seismic upgrades (1997–2000)
1.3.2 Widening (2002–2003)
1.3.3 Seismic beam (2010–2012)
1.3.4 Repaving (2015)
1.4 Werder Pier
2 Tolls

History and Description


1929 Original Bridge

The San Francisco Bay Toll-Bridge Company issued US$4,500,000 (equivalent to $62,000,000 in 2016) in bonds to raise a portion of the estimated US$7,500,000 (equivalent to $103,400,000 in 2016) budget required to build the first bridge. First-year operating revenues were anticipated to be US$868,469 (equivalent to $11,974,000 in 2016), but the original bridge lost money in its first year of operation.

The original bridge, known as the San Francisco Bay toll bridge, opened on 2 March 1929 after approximately a year of construction. It was a privately owned venture and was then the longest bridge in the world. The original bridge was mostly a two-lane causeway trestle with five 300-foot (91 m) truss spans in the center incorporating a vertical lift over the main shipping channel. Clearance when the lift was down to allow road traffic over the bridge was 35 feet (11 m), and clearance with the lift up to allow marine traffic to pass the bridge was 135 feet (41 m).

The original drawbridge played a minor role in the history of the Stanford Axe. When Stanford students stole the Axe back from Cal in April 1930, the getaway car was presumed to be traveling the shortest route, which would be over the bridge, and pursuing Cal students gave chase. The operator on duty, who was a graduate student at Stanford, learned that Cal students were causing the increased traffic in pursuit of the Axe, so he raised the draw and stopped traffic. In fact, the getaway car was traveling back to Palo Alto via San Jose.

Although the initial press was favorable, daily traffic fell from the opening months and never exceeded 2,000 cars per day until 1947. The State of California purchased the bridge on 12 September 1951 for US$6,000,000 (equivalent to $55,400,000 in 2016). By 1955, traffic exceeded 9,000 cars per day,] and in 1957, traffic was stopped an average of six times per day to allow ship traffic to pass the bridge. The bridge originally had pole lights along the entire stretch, which were later abandoned except over the vertical lift span. Traffic on the bridge increased from 3,000 cars per day in 1929 to 56,000 cars per day in 1968. Before the new bridge was complete, California put the original truss spans up for sale in 1965, with the buyer obligated to remove all five truss spans after completion of the 1967 bridge.

1967 Orthotropic Bridge

With increased road and marine traffic, a bill was introduced in 1961 by State Senator Richard J. Dolwig to fund a new fixed high-level bridge to replace the 1929 lift-bridge. The modern span, which began construction on 17 July 1961, opened for traffic in 1967 at a cost of US$70,000,000 (equivalent to $503,000,000 in 2016). The originally designed upgrade would retain the existing lift span (along with the attendant delays due to passing ship traffic), adding a second deck to the truss spans and widening the existing trestles to four lanes, but the California Toll Bridge Authority added US$30,000,000 (equivalent to $240,400,000 in 2016) to the project budget in September 1961 to replace the existing lift span with a fixed high-level double-deck span, which would have been similar in appearance to the nearby 1956 Richmond–San Rafael Bridge.

By that time, prior phases of the project had already been awarded to relocate the toll plaza from San Mateo to Hayward on new fill and bids were taken for the new eastern trestle, with trestle construction awarded to Peter Kiewit Sons’. The finished single-deck design was not finalized until January 1962, with work initially estimated to complete in 1965.

The new span won two prizes in 1968: an ASCE Award for Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement and an American Institute of Steel Construction long-span prize bridge award.

William Stephen Allen was retained as an architectural consultant, although the bridge was designed by the Bay Toll Crossings Division (under Chief Engineer Norman C. Raab) of the California Department of Public Works. Chuck Seim, one of the design engineers working for Bay Toll Crossings, would later credit Allan Temko’s criticism of Raab’s economical truss design for the Richmond–San Rafael crossing for generating sufficient public pressure to drive the single-deck design. Temko’s article quoted Tung-Yen Lin as being against a repeat of the Richmond–San Rafael design, but Lin ultimately gave Temko the credit for the design. Raab retired and his successor, E.R. “Mike” Foley, was willing to incorporate aesthetic considerations, resulting in the final design. The western highrise span features an all-steel superstructure, with an orthotropic deck over two parallel box girders, following the construction of several smaller test bridges using the same orthotropic deck technology. It was the first large-scale use of an orthotropic deck, which reduces weight, and thus seismic loading, although the bridge is expected to receive moderate to major damage following an earthquake.

Murphy Pacific Marine built the Marine Boss floating barge-crane in 1966 with a 500-short-ton (454 t) capacity to perform the heavy box girder and deck-section lifts. The heavy lift capacity of Marine Boss enabled Murphy Pacific to raise much longer prefabricated girders than existing barge cranes would have allowed. Box girder and deck sections were fabricated in Murphy Pacific’s Richmond yard and were carried by Marine Boss to the bridge construction site. Marine Boss was sold for scrap in 1988 to Weeks Marine in New Jersey, who renamed it the Weeks 533 and refurbished it. Weeks 533 has since been used for several notable heavy lifts, including moving the Concorde and Enterprise onto the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and lifting the downed hull of US Airways Flight 1549 from the Hudson River.

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The highrise section of the San Mateo-Hayward bridge (1967 span).

The total length of the bridge is 7 miles (11.3 km), which is made up of a western 1.9-mile (3.1 km) highrise section and an eastern 5.1 miles (8.2 km) trestle section. 425,000 cubic yards (324,936 m3) of fill were used at the Hayward end to reclaim land for placing the toll plaza and administrative buildings. The eastern trestle span was built on 4,840 prestressed hollow concrete piles, each 60–90 feet (18–27 m) long. The contractor built a casting yard in Richmond to produce the concrete piles continuously. The new eastern trestle span was completed in 1963 and traffic over the existing 1929 bridge was moved over to it.

Work on the western highrise span was bid in October 1964 and commenced in 1965. It crosses a shipping channel, with an orthotropic main span that is 750 feet (229 m) long (at the time, the longest girder span in the United States) and has a vertical clearance of 135 feet (41 m). The main span is flanked by two orthotropic back spans which are each 375 feet (114 m) long, and there are seven orthotropic side spans on the approach to each back span. Each of these side spans are 292 feet (89 m) long. Although these spans appear to be formed from continuous box girders, they consist of alternating anchor spans and suspended spans. Anchor spans rest on top of two adjacent piers and cantilever over each side slightly, and suspended spans are hung between the ends of two adjacent anchor spans. There are an additional nine 208-foot (63 m) steel spans carrying a concrete deck on the San Mateo side of the highrise, and ten steel spans carrying a concrete deck on the Hayward side, ranging from 186–208 feet (57–63 m). The bridge carries about 93,000 cars and other vehicles on a typical day, almost double its original projected design capacity of 50,000 vehicles per day.

The steel deck of the bridge, approximately 418,000 square feet (38,833 m2), was paved with an epoxy asphalt concrete wearing surface in two layers. The San Mateo Bridge was the first deployment of an epoxy asphalt concrete wearing surface. As of 2005, the original wearing surface was still in use, but was subsequently replaced in 2015.

The highrise section was initially built with six lanes and the eastern causeway with four lanes (two in each direction). The causeway section was a perennial traffic bottleneck until it was expanded to six lanes in 2002, along with much needed improvements in its connections with Interstate 880 in Hayward.

Bus service over the bridge is provided by AC Transit’s Line M Transbay service.

San Mateo-Hayward Bridge

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San Mateo-Hayward Bridge (1967), showing some of the electric transmission towers paralleling the bridge route and Werder Pier (at left)

High-voltage power lines built by PG&E in the 1950s parallel the bridge all the way across the bay. They provide power to the peninsula and San Francisco.

Upgrades and repairs

Seismic upgrades (1997–2000)

The bridge was closed in the wake of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake as a precaution, but reopened on 18 October 1989. It underwent an extensive seismic retrofitting from 1997 through 2000 to protect against earthquake damage.

Widening (2002–2003)

The bridge was considered the worst evening commute in the Bay Area, which ended with the completion of a new eastern trestle carrying westbound bridge traffic in 2002. Eastbound bridge traffic took over the old trestle completely, although eastbound traffic was not expanded to three lanes until February 2003. Funded as part of BATA’s regional Measure (RM) 1 program, which raised bridge tolls, the new low-rise trestle portion of the bridge added 10 feet (3.0 m) shoulders on both sides in both directions and effectively widened traffic from four to six lanes, matching the configuration of the high-rise portion of the bridge. With the completion of the new westbound trestle, the speed limit on the bridge was raised to 65 miles per hour (105 km/h).

Seismic beam (2010–2012)

A beam, which had been added as part of the seismic retrofit project, was found in a cracked condition during a routine inspection in October 2010. The beam, which was on the westbound approach to (east of) the highrise section, was patched with a steel plate as an emergency repair, and permanent repairs, requiring a weekend shutdown, were completed two years later.

Repaving (2015)

After nearly forty years of service from the original orthotropic deck wearing surface, Myers and Sons Construction, a partnership between C. C. Myers and Sterling Construction Company, was the selected bidder to remove and replace the wearing surface on the highrise portion in 2015. The work required two full weekend closures on 8–11 May 2015 and 22–25 May 2015. The new polyester concrete wearing surface, developed by Caltrans and used to great success in other Bay Area bridges, is anticipated to be at least as durable as the original epoxy asphalt concrete, according to laboratory tests conducted at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The bridge was closed to traffic, for the first time since opening, starting at 10pm on Friday, May 8, 2015, for resurfacing and maintenance. The bridge reopened before 4am on Monday, May 11, 2015. It closed again for the final phase over Memorial Day weekend, May 22–25, 2015, fully reopening by 4:55am on May 25.

Werder Pier

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Werder Pier, the remnant of the original 1929 western trestle span

After the new bridge was built, the old bridge was demolished but the western approach (the trestle span up to the original truss spans) was purchased by the County of San Mateo in 1968 for the nominal sum of US$10 (equivalent to $70 in 2016) and retained as the 4,055 feet (1,236 m) Werder Fishing Pier, which was known as one of the best places to catch sharks in San Francisco Bay. San Mateo County operated Werder Pier under a lease agreement with Caltrans, which stated that Caltrans may temporarily revoke the lease in order to perform use the pier as a staging area for repairs to the 1967 span, and that San Mateo County must maintain the pier and keep it open for public use for twenty-five years.

Werder Pier was closed to the public in 1996, when Caltrans used it as an equipment staging area for the seismic retrofit of the 1967 span. In addition, there were liability concerns since the pier’s structure had degraded due to exposure to marine elements. A report was prepared for the County in 2004; the cost of rehabilitating the pier and providing some improvements was estimated at up to US$7,200,000 (equivalent to $9,100,000 in 2016), depending on a more detailed evaluation of the pier’s condition, since the investigation for the report revealed numerous cracks, spalls and exposed reinforcing steel. However, the report also stated the pier did not require any seismic retrofitting.

As of 2013 ownership of the parking lot and land access to the pier was transferred to Foster City. Initial concepts for the newly acquired space included a possible ice rink and ferry terminal, but the land was deemed too environmentally sensitive to support high-intensity use. The park carried an interim name of Werder Park, and was dedicated as Bridgeview Park for a grand opening on June 27, 2015.

Tolls


Tolls are only collected from westbound traffic at the toll plaza on the east side of the bridge. Since July 2010, the toll rate for passenger cars is $5. For vehicles with more than two axles, the toll rate is $5 per axle. Drivers may either pay by cash or use the FasTrak electronic toll collection device. During peak traffic hours, the two left lanes are designated HOV lanes, allowing carpool vehicles carrying two or more people or motorcycles to pass for a toll of $2.50. The next three lanes are FasTrak-only lanes. During non-peak hours the two HOV lanes become FasTrak-only lanes.

Opera Snapshot_2017-11-05_154917_en.wikipedia.org

New San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opens at last

New San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opens at last to replace the one damaged in 1989 earthquake after 12 YEARS of construction

  • The $6.4 billion bridge is designed to withstand the strongest earthquake estimated by seismologists to occur at the site over a 1,500-year period
  • The new span replaces a structure that was damaged during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake
  • Officers led a line of drivers across the bridge at about 10:15 p.m. Monday, some seven hours before the planned 5 a.m. Tuesday opening
  • After years of delays and cost overruns, the opening of one of the state’s most expensive public works projects was marked with a relatively low-key event that did not even include the governor

By Associated Press Reporter
PUBLISHED: 16:06 GMT, 3 September 2013 | UPDATED: 23:33 GMT, 3 September 2013

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The new $6.4billion eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge has been opened to traffic after years of delays and cost overruns, carrying its first drivers across the bay late Monday night just hours before the beginning of the work week.

The reopening came after the California Highway Patrol conducted a final security check and toll takers resumed their positions following a five-day closure as crews completed striping, railing and other final details on the new gleaming white span.

Cars began lining up hours earlier in an attempt to be among the first on the new span, and CHP officers led a line of drivers across at about 10:15 p.m., some seven hours before the 5 a.m. Tuesday reopening that was estimated before the closure.

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A group of police officers cross the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge after leading a procession marking the east span’s opening, in San Francisco on Sept. 2

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Police motorcycles ride across the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on September 2. The span took nearly 12 years to build

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At a modest inaugural ceremony, the new, self-anchored suspension bridge with its looming, single white tower was praised as a dramatic safety upgrade over its predecessor and a beautiful example of public art

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The new eastern span (left) of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge stands next to the older span (right). San Francisco Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom cut a chain with a blow torch to mark the opening

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Open road: Traffic flows across the new eastern span of the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge on Tuesday

At a modest inaugural ceremony, the new, self-anchored suspension bridge with its looming, single white tower was praised as a dramatic safety upgrade over its predecessor and a beautiful example of public art.

‘I hope this is more than just connecting two land masses,’ said Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. ‘I hope that the progress that’s being represented at this moment is for a generation to dream big dreams and to do big things.’US grandmother Diana Nyad, 64, tells how she pushed through…

Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco, cut a chain with a blow torch to mark the opening after leading those gathered around the bridge’s toll plaza in a countdown to the reopening.

There was no public celebration with tens of thousands of pedestrians and fireworks as originally planned. Instead, after years of delays and cost overruns, the opening of one of the state’s most expensive public works projects was marked with a relatively low-key event that did not even include the governor.

The new span replaces a structure that was damaged during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. It is designed to withstand the strongest earthquake estimated by seismologists to occur at the site over a 1,500-year period.

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The largest self-anchored suspension bridge in the world opened before Tuesday morning’s rush hour across San Francisco Bay, six years behind schedule and five times over budget

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The new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge is illuminated. The new section of bridge has been under construction for nearly 12 years and follows years of political bickering, engineering challenges and cost overruns

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Vehicles drive on the new eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge in San Francisco, California on September 2, 2013

‘Despite the journey’s length, it has been completed before the arrival of our next big earthquake,’ said Steve Heminger, executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. ‘And thank goodness for that.’

Heminger was among numerous officials who spoke at the event, which included a poem about the bridge by California’s poet laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera.

‘(This project) has at times inspired me, challenged me, frustrated me and today, after seeing the final product, it impresses me with its beauty, its grace and its strength,’ said Brian Kelly, who heads the state’s Business, Transportation & Housing Agency.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who was closely involved in planning the bridge when he was mayor of Oakland, was out of town and unable to attend the ceremony, said his spokesman, Evan Westrup.

The entire bridge closed Wednesday night so crews could do final work, and they were still striping, putting up signs and putting down roadway markers Monday, said bridge spokesman Andrew Gordon. Some barrier railing also needed to be installed.

The new section of bridge has been under construction for almost a decade and follows years of political bickering, engineering challenges and cost overruns.

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This photo shot on October 22, 1989 shows a collapsed portion of the Bay Bridge after the earthquake that rocked northern California

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The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is pictured on October 28, 2009. The span was indefinitely closed after a set of cables snapped

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Fireboats spray water during ceremonies beside the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Jan. 29, 2002, as construction was set to begin on the new span of the bridge

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The western span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is pictured in April 1984

James Ghielmetti, a member of the California Transportation Commission, said at Monday’s ceremony that the bridge should not have taken so long to go up.

‘California must do a better job going forward on all of our public works projects,’ he said.

In March, more than two dozen rods used to anchor the roadway to important earthquake safety structures cracked after they were tightened. The discovery threatened to delay the bridge’s opening by months.

The bridge will open with a temporary fix for the broken rods while the permanent repair, expected to be completed in December, is being installed.

Transportation officials approved the temporary fix last month and voted to open the bridge as originally planned around the Labor Day weekend.

But Gordon said Monday that there was not enough time for a public celebration.

Plans for such a celebration originally called for a bridge walk with more than 100,000 people, fireworks, a half marathon and a concert.

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Original News

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Bay Bridge

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Related Post: New San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opens at last

San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge 

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The western section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge

The San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge (known locally as the Bay Bridge) is a complex of bridges spanning San Francisco Bay in California. As part of Interstate 80 and the direct road between San Francisco and Oakland, it carries about 260,000 vehicles a day on its two decks. It has one of the longest spans in the United States.

The toll bridge was conceived as early as the gold rush days, but construction did not begin until 1933. Designed by Charles H. Purcell, and built by American Bridge Company, it opened on November 12, 1936, six months before the Golden Gate Bridge. It originally carried automobile traffic on its upper deck, and trucks and interurban streetcars on the lower, but after the Key System abandoned rail service, the lower deck was converted to all-road traffic as well. In 1986 the bridge was unofficially dedicated to James Rolph.

The bridge has two sections of roughly equal length; the older western section, officially known as the Willie L. Brown Jr. Bridge (after former San Francisco Mayor and California State Assembly Speaker Willie L. Brown Jr.), connects downtown San Francisco to Yerba Buena Island; and the newer unnamed eastern section connects the island to Oakland. The western section is a double suspension bridge with two decks, westbound traffic being carried on the upper deck while eastbound is carried on the lower one. The largest span of the original eastern section was a cantilever bridge. During the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, a portion of the eastern section’s upper deck collapsed onto the lower deck and the bridge was closed for a month. Reconstruction of the eastern section of the bridge as a causeway connected to a self-anchored suspension bridge began in 2002; the new eastern section opened September 2, 2013, at a reported cost of over $6.5 billion, a 2,500% cost overrun from the original estimate of $250M. Unlike the western section and the original eastern section of the bridge, the new eastern section is a single deck with the eastbound and westbound lanes on each side making it the world’s widest bridge, according to Guinness World Records, as of 2014. Demolition of the old east span is expected to last until 2018.

Contents
1 Background
2 History
2.1 Pre-construction
2.2 Construction
2.3 Opening day
2.4 Rail service
2.5 Later events
3 Earthquake damage and subsequent upgrades
3.1 Western section retrofitting
3.2 Eastern section replacement
4 Name
4.1 Emperor Norton naming campaigns
4.2 Alexander Zuckermann Bike Path
5 Financing and tolls

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Background


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Bridges in the San Francisco Bay

The bridge consists of two crossings, east and west of Yerba Buena Island, a natural mid-bay outcropping inside San Francisco city limits. The western crossing between Yerba Buena and downtown San Francisco has two complete suspension spans connected at a center anchorage. Rincon Hill is the western anchorage and touch-down for the San Francisco landing of the Brown bridge connected by three shorter truss spans. The eastern crossing, between Yerba Buena Island and Oakland, was a cantilever bridge with a double-tower span, five medium truss spans, and a 14-section truss causeway. Due to earthquake concerns, the eastern crossing was replaced by a new crossing that opened on Labor Day 2013. On Yerba Buena Island, the double-decked crossing is a 321-foot (98 m) concrete viaduct east of the west span’s cable anchorage, a 540-foot (160 m) tunnel through the island’s rocky central hill, another 790.8-foot (241.0 m) concrete viaduct, and a longer curved high-level steel truss viaduct that spans the final 1,169.7 feet (356.5 m) to the cantilever bridge.

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The toll plaza on the Oakland side (since 1969 for westbound traffic only) has eighteen toll lanes, of which six are FasTrak-only. Metering signals are about 1,000 feet (300 m) west of the toll plaza. Two full-time bus-only lanes bypass the toll booths and metering lights around the right (north) side of the toll plaza; other high occupancy vehicles can use these lanes during weekday morning and afternoon commute periods. The two far-left toll lanes are high-occupancy vehicle lanes during weekday commute periods. Radio and television traffic reports will often refer to congestion at the toll plaza, metering lights, or a parking lot in the median of the road for bridge employees; the parking lot stretches from about 800 feet (240 m) east of the toll plaza to about 100 feet (30 m) west of the metering lights.

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During the morning commute hours, traffic congestion on the westbound approach from Oakland stretches back through the MacArthur Maze interchange at the east end of the bridge onto the three feeder highways, Interstate 580, Interstate 880, and I-80 toward Richmond. Since the number of lanes on the eastbound approach from San Francisco is structurally restricted, eastbound backups are also frequent during evening commute hours.

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The western section of the Bay Bridge is currently restricted to motorized freeway traffic. Pedestrians, bicycles, and other non-freeway vehicles are not allowed to cross this section. A project to add bicycle/pedestrian lanes to the western section has been proposed but is not finalized. A Caltrans bicycle shuttle operates between Oakland and San Francisco during peak commute hours for $1.00 each way.

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Bay Bridge People Path

Freeway ramps next to the tunnel provide access to Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island. Because the toll plaza is on the Oakland side, the western span is a de facto non-tolled bridge; traffic between the island and the main part of San Francisco can freely cross back and forth. Those who only travel from Oakland to Yerba Buena Island, and not the entire length to the main part of San Francisco, must pay the full toll.

History


Pre-Construction

San Francisco, at the mouth of the bay, was perfectly placed to prosper during the California Gold Rush. Almost all goods not produced locally arrived by ship. But after the first transcontinental railroad was completed in May 1869 San Francisco was on the wrong side of the Bay, separated from the new rail link. The fear of many San Franciscans was that the city would lose its position as the regional center of trade. The concept of a bridge spanning the San Francisco Bay had been considered since the Gold Rush days. Several newspaper articles during the early 1870s discussed the idea. In early 1872, a “Bay Bridge Committee” was hard at work on plans to construct a railroad bridge. The April 1872 issue of the San Francisco Real Estate Circular contained an item about the committee:

The Bay Bridge Committee lately submitted its report to the Board of Supervisors, in which compromise with the Central Pacific was recommended; also the bridging of the bay at Ravenswood and the granting of railroad facilities at Mission Bay and on the water front. Wm. C. Ralston, ex-Mayor Selby and James Otis were on this committee. A daily newspaper attempts to account for the advice of these gentlemen to the city by hinting that they were afraid of the railroad company, and therefore made their recommendations to suit its interests.

The self-proclaimed Emperor Norton saw fit to decree three times in 1872 that a suspension bridge be constructed to connect Oakland with San Francisco. In the third of these decrees, in September 1872, Norton, frustrated that nothing had happened, proclaimed:

WHEREAS, we issued our decree ordering the citizens of San Francisco and Oakland to appropriate funds for the survey of a suspension bridge from Oakland Point via Goat Island; also for a tunnel; and to ascertain which is the best project; and whereas the said citizens have hitherto neglected to notice our said decree; and whereas we are determined our authority shall be fully respected; now, therefore, we do hereby command the arrest by the army of both the Boards of City Fathers if they persist in neglecting our decrees.

Given under our royal hand and seal at San Francisco, this 17th day of September, 1872.

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Sketch of the proposed “Rush San Francisco Trans-Bay Suspension Bridge” (1913)

Unlike most of Emperor Norton’s eccentric ideas, his decree to build a bridge had wide public and political appeal. Yet, the task was too much of an engineering and economic challenge since the bay was too wide and too deep there. In 1921, over forty years after Norton’s death, a tunnel was considered, but it became clear that one would be inadequate for vehicular traffic. Support for a trans-bay crossing finally grew in the 1920s with the increasing popularity and availability of the automobile. In 1929, the California Legislature established the California Toll Bridge Authority with the responsibility of connecting San Francisco and Alameda County with a bridge.

To make the bridge feasible, its route was chosen to pass through Yerba Buena Island (formerly known as Goat Island in the 1870s), reducing the material and labor needed. Yerba Buena Island was a U.S. Navy base at the time (and until 1997). So the approval of the U.S. Congress, which regulates the armed services and supervises all naval and military bases, was necessary for this island to be used. After a great deal of lobbying, California received Congressional approval to use the island on February 20, 1931.

Construction

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The Bay Bridge under construction at Yerba Buena Island in 1935

The chief engineer was Ralph Modjeski, a Polish-American. Construction began on July 9, 1933. Ultimately, twenty-four men would die constructing the bridge. The western section of the bridge between San Francisco and Yerba Buena Island presented an enormous engineering challenge. The bay was up to 100 feet (30 m) deep in places and the soil required new foundation-laying techniques. A single main suspension span some 4,100 feet (1.2 km) in length was considered but rejected, as it would have required too much fill and reduced wharfage space at San Francisco, had less vertical clearance for shipping, and cost more than the design ultimately adopted. The solution was to construct a massive concrete anchorage halfway between San Francisco and the island, and to build a main suspension span on each side of this central anchorage.

East of Yerba Buena Island, the bay to Oakland was spanned by a 10,176-foot (3.102 km) combination of double cantilever, five long-span through-trusses, and a truss causeway, forming the longest bridge of its kind at the time. The cantilever section was longest in the nation and third-longest anywhere.

Much of the original eastern section is founded upon treated wood. Because of the very deep mud on the bay bottom it was not practical to reach bedrock, although the lower levels of the mud are quite firm. Long wooden pilings were crafted from entire old-growth Douglas fir trees, which were driven through the soft mud to the firmer bottom layers.

Yerba Buena Tunnel

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Traveling through the westbound Yerba Buena tunnel

Connecting the two “halves” of the bridge is the Yerba Buena Tunnel, 76 feet (23 m) wide, 58 feet (18 m) high, and 540 feet (160 m) long. It is the largest diameter transportation bore tunnel in the world.

Reminders of the long-gone bridge railway survive along the south side of the lower Yerba Buena Tunnel. These are the regularly spaced “deadman holes”, escape alcoves along the wall, into which track workers could duck if a train came along. (The north side, which always carried only motor traffic, lacks these holes.)

Opening Day

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The illuminated bridge as seen from the Embarcadero (San Francisco).

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Schematic drawing of the Bay Bridge

The bridge opened on November 12, 1936, at 12:30 p.m. In attendance were the former U.S. president Herbert Hoover, Senator William G. McAdoo, and the Governor of California, Frank Merriam. Governor Merriam opened the bridge by cutting gold chains across it with an acetylene cutting torch. The San Francisco Chronicle report of November 13, 1936, read:

the greatest traffic jam in the history of S.F., a dozen old-fashioned New Year’s eves thrown into one – the biggest and most good-natured crowd of tens of thousands ever to try and walk the streets and guide their autos on them – This was the city last night, the night of the bridge opening with every auto owner in the bay region, seemingly, trying to crowd his machine onto the great bridge.

And those who tried to view the brilliantly lighted structure from the hilltops and also view the fireworks display were numbered also in the thousands.

Every intersection in the city, particularly those near the San Francisco entrance to the bridge, was jammed with a slowly moving auto caravan.

Every available policeman in the department was called to duty to aid in regulating the city’s greatest parade of autos.

One of the greatest traffic congestions of the evening was at Fifth and Mission Streets, with downtown traffic and bridge-bound traffic snarled in an almost hopeless mass. To add to the confusion, traffic signals jammed and did not synchronize.

Police reported that there was no lessening of the traffic over the bridge, all lanes being crowded with Oakland- or San-Francisco-bound machines far into the night.

The total cost was $77 million. Before opening the bridge was blessed by Cardinal Secretary of State Eugene Cardinal Pacelli, later Pope Pius XII. Because it was in effect two bridges strung together, the western spans were ranked the second and third largest suspension bridges. Only the George Washington Bridge had a longer span between towers.

As part of the celebration a United States commemorative coin was produced by the San Francisco mint. A half dollar, the obverse portrays California’s symbol, the grizzly bear, while the reverse presents a picture of the bridge spanning the bay. A total of 71,424 coins were sold, some from the bridge’s tollbooths.

Roadway Plan

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A double balanced cantilever bridge, five truss bridges, and two truss causeways that connected Yerba Buena Island to Oakland (demolished)

The original western approach to (and exit from) the upper deck of the bridge was a long ramp to Fifth, branching to Harrison St for westward traffic off the bridge and Bryant St for eastward traffic entering. There was an on-ramp to the upper deck on Rincon Hill from Fremont Street (that later became an off-ramp) and an off-ramp to First Street (later extended over First St to Fremont St). The lower deck ended at Essex and Harrison St; just southwest of there, the tracks of the bridge railway left the lower deck and curved northward into the elevated loop through the Transbay Terminal that was paved for buses after rail service ended.

Until the 1960s the upper deck (58 feet (18 m) wide between curbs) carried three lanes of traffic in each direction and was restricted to automobiles only. The lower deck carried three lanes of truck and auto traffic on the north side of the bridge. In the 1950s traffic lights were added to set the direction of travel in the middle lane, but still with no divider. Two railroad tracks on the south half of the lower deck carried the electric commuter trains. In 1958 the tracks were replaced with pavement, but the reconfiguration to what the traffic is today didn’t take place until 1963.

The Federal highway on the bridge was originally a concurrency of U.S. Highway 40 and U.S. Highway 50. The bridge was re-designated as Interstate 80 in 1964, and the western ends of U.S. 40 and U.S. 50 are now in Silver Summit, Utah, and West Sacramento, California, respectively.

The off-ramp for Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island is unusual in that it is on the left-hand side in the eastbound direction. This off ramp presents an unusual hazard – drivers must slow within the normal traffic flow and move into a very short off-ramp that ends in a short radius turn left turn (a 15 MPH advisory is posted). The turn has been further narrowed from its original design by the installation of crash pads on the island side. Eastbound and westbound on-ramps are on the usual right-hand side, but they do not have dedicated merge lanes; drivers must await a gap in the traffic and then accelerate from a stop sign to traffic speeds in a short distance. In 2016, a new on ramp and off ramp to Treasure Island were opened in the western direction on the right-hand side of the roadway, replacing the left-hand side off ramp in that direction.

Rail Service

In 1939, the San Francisco Transbay Terminal opened and electric commuter trains started running across the south side of the lower deck of the bridge. The terminal originally was supposed to open the same time as the Bay Bridge, but was delayed. The trains were operated by the Sacramento Northern Railroad (Western Pacific), the Interurban Electric Railway (Southern Pacific) and the Key System. Freight trains never used the bridge. The tracks left the lower deck in San Francisco just southwest of the end of 1st St. They then went along an elevated viaduct above city streets, looping around and into the terminal on its east end. Trains could turn around on the loop back onto the bridge when finished unloading. The loop continued to be used by buses until the terminal’s closure. The tracks left the lower deck in Oakland. The Interurban Electric Railway tracks ran along Engineer Road and over the Southern Pacific yard on trestles (some of it is still standing and visible from toll road ramps) onto the streets and dedicated right-of-ways in Berkeley, Albany, Oakland and Alameda. The Sacramento Northern and Key System tracks went under the SP tracks through a tunnel (which still exists and is in use as an access to the EBMUD treatment plant) and onto 40th St. Due to falling ridership, Sacramento Northern and IER service ended in 1941. After World War II Key System ridership began to fall as well. Despite the vital role the railroad played, the last train went over the bridge in April 1958. The tracks were removed and replaced with pavement on the Transbay Terminal ramps and Bay Bridge. The Key System handled buses over the bridge until 1960 when its successor, AC Transit, took over operations. It still handles service today. There have been several attempts to restore rail service on the bridge, but none have been successful.

Later Events

Modification to remove rail service

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Daytime view of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco seen from Yerba Buena Island

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A view of the Bay Bridge from the Bank of America building

Automobile traffic increased dramatically in the ensuing decades while the Key System declined, and in October 1963, the Bay Bridge was reconfigured with five lanes of westbound traffic on the upper deck and five lanes of eastbound traffic on the lower deck. The Key System originally planned to end train operations in 1948 when it replaced its streetcars with buses, but Caltrans did not approve of this. Trucks were allowed on both decks and the railroad was removed. Owing to a lack of clearance for trucks through the upper-deck portion of the Yerba Buena tunnel, it was necessary to lower the elevation of the upper deck where it passes through the tunnel, and to correspondingly excavate to lower the elevation of the lower portion. Additionally, the upper deck was retrofitted to handle the increased loads due to trucks, with understringers added and prestressing added to the bottom of the floor beams. This retrofit is still in place and is visible to Eastbound traffic.

1968 Aircraft Accident

On February 11, 1968, a U.S. Navy training aircraft crashed into the cantilever span of the bridge, killing both reserve officers aboard. The T2V SeaStar, based at NAS Los Alamitos in southern California, was on a routine weekend mission and had just taken off in the fog from nearby NAS Alameda. The plane struck the bridge about 15 feet (5 m) above the upper deck roadway and then sank in the bay north of the bridge. There were no injuries among the motorists on the bridge. One of the truss sections of the bridges was replaced due to damage from the impact.

Cable Lighting

The series of lights adorning the suspension cables was added in 1986 as part of the bridge’s 50th-anniversary celebration.

Ship Accident

In 2007 a container ship named the Cosco Busan (now the Hanjin Venezia) hit the bridge resulting in the Cosco Busan oil spill.

2013 public “light sculpture” installation

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A view of Bay Bridge lights from a pier next to the Ferry Building in San Francisco

On March 5, 2013, a public art installation called “The Bay Lights” was activated on the western span’s vertical cables. The installation was designed by artist Leo Villareal and consists of 25,000 LED lights originally scheduled to be on nightly display until March 2015. However, on December 17, 2014, the non-profit Illuminate The Arts announced that it had raised the $4 million needed to make the lights permanent; the display was temporarily turned off starting in March 2015 in order to perform maintenance and install sturdier bulbs and then re-lit on January 30, 2016.

In order to reduce driver distractions, the privately funded display is not visible to users of the bridge, only to distant observers. This lighting effort is intended to form part of a larger project to “light the bay” Villareal used various algorithms to generate patterns such as rainfall, reflections on water, bird flight, expanding rings, and others. Villareal’s patterns and transitions will be sequenced and their duration determined by computerized random number generator to make each viewing experience unique. Owing to the efficiency of the LED system the estimated operating cost is only US$15.00 per night.

Earthquake damage and subsequent upgrades


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A collapsed section of roadway deck after the 1989 earthquake

During the evening of October 17, 1989, Loma Prieta earthquake, which measured 6.9 on the moment magnitude scale, a 50-foot (15 m) section of the upper deck of the eastern truss portion of the bridge at Pier E9 collapsed onto the deck below, indirectly causing one death. The bridge was closed for just over a month as construction crews repaired the section. It reopened on November 17 of that year. The lighter pavement of the replacement section is visible in aerial photographs, at the east end of the through-truss part of the bridge (37.8189°N 122.3442°W).

Western Section Retrofitting

The western section has undergone extensive seismic retrofitting. During the retrofit, much of the structural steel supporting the bridge deck was replaced while the bridge remained open to traffic. Engineers accomplished this by using methods similar to those employed on the Chicago Skyway reconstruction project.

The entire bridge was fabricated using hot steel rivets, which are impossible to heat treat and so remain relatively soft. Analysis showed that these could fail by shearing under extreme stress. Therefore, at most locations each given rivet was removed by breaking off the head with a jack-hammer [rivet buster] and punching out the old rivet, the hole precision reamed and the old rivets replaced with heat-treated high-strength tension-control [TC] bolts and nuts. Most bolts had domed heads placed facing traffic so they looked similar to the rivets that were removed.[Caltrans contract 04-0435U4, 1999–2004]. This work had to be performed with great care as the steel of the structure had for many years been painted with lead based paint, which had to be carefully removed and contained by workers with extensive protective gear.

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Obsolete hot riveted laced ties (left, eastern span) and bolted box beam retrofit (right, western span)

Most of the beams were originally constructed of two plate I-beams joined with lattices of flat strip or angle stock, depending upon structural requirements. These have all been reconstructed by replacing the riveted lattice elements with bolted steel plate and so converting the lattice beams into box beams. This replacement included adding face plates to the large diagonal beams joining the faces of the main towers, which now have an improved appearance when viewed from certain angles.

Diagonal box beams have been added to each bay of the upper and lower decks of the western spans. These add stiffness to reduce side-to-side motion during an earthquake and reduce the probability of damage to the decking surfaces.

Analysis showed that some massive concrete supports could burst and crumble under likely stresses. In particular the western supports were extensively modified. First, the location of existing reinforcing bar is determined using magnetic techniques. In areas between bars holes are drilled. Into these holes is inserted and glued an L-shaped bar that protrudes 15 to 25 centimeters (6 to 10 inches). This bar is retained in the hole with a high-strength epoxy adhesive. The entire surface of the structure is thus covered with closely spaced protrusions. A network of horizontal and vertical reinforcing bars is then attached to these protrusions. Mold surface plates are then positioned to retain high-strength concrete, which is then pumped into the void. After removal of the formwork the surface appears similar to the original concrete. This technique has been applied elsewhere throughout California to improve freeway overpass abutments and some overpass central supports that have unconventional shapes. (Other techniques such as jacket and grout are applied to simple vertical posts; see the seismic retrofit article.)

The western approaches have also been retrofitted in part, but mostly these have been replaced with new construction of reinforced concrete.

Eastern Section Replacement

For various reasons, the eastern section would have been too expensive to retrofit compared to replacing it, so the decision was made to replace it.

The replacement section underwent a series of design changes, both progressive and regressive, with increasing cost estimates and contractor bids. The final plan included a single-towered self-anchored suspension span starting at Yerba Buena island, leading to a long viaduct to the Oakland touchdown.

Separated and protected bicycle lanes are a visually prominent feature on the south side of the new eastern section. The bikeway will carry recreational and commuter cyclists between Oakland and Yerba Buena Island.. Until that time cyclists and pedestrians must turn around and return to Oakland. The original eastern cantilever span had firefighting dry standpipes installed. No firefighting dry or wet standpipes were designed for the eastern section replacement, although, the firefighting wet standpipes do exist on the original western section visible on both the north-side upper and lower decks.

The original eastern section closed permanently to traffic on August 28, 2013, and the replacement span opened for traffic five days later.

Eastern Span: Original and Replacement

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Some new construction (2004)

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Substantial progress (2011)

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The completed replacement and the old bridge (2013)

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Rest of old and new bridge (June 2015)

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Artist’s simulation of final appearance after old span demolition

October 2009 eyebar crack, repair failure and bridge closure

During the 2009 Labor Day weekend closure for a portion of the replacement, a major crack was found in an eyebar, significant enough to warrant bridge closure. Working in parallel with the retrofit, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and its contractors and subcontractors, were able to design, engineer, fabricate, and install the pieces required to repair the bridge, delaying its planned opening by only  1 1⁄2 hours. The repair was not inspected by the Federal Highway Administration, who relied on state inspection reports to ensure safety guidelines were met.

On October 27, 2009, during the evening commute, the steel crossbeam and two steel tie rods repaired over Labor Day weekend snapped off the Bay Bridge’s eastern section and fell to the upper deck. The cause may have been due to metal-on-metal vibration from bridge traffic and wind gusts of up to 55 miles per hour (90 km/h) causing failure of one rod, which broke off, which then led to the metal section crashing down. Three vehicles were either struck by or hit the fallen debris, though there were no injuries. On November 1, Caltrans announced that the bridge would probably stay closed at least through the morning commute of Monday, November 2, after repairs performed during the weekend failed a stress test on Sunday. BART and the Golden Gate Ferry systems added supplemental service to accommodate the increased passenger load during the bridge closure. The bridge reopened to traffic on November 2, 2009.

The pieces that broke off on October 27 were a saddle, crossbars, and two tension rods.

Name


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A view of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge western span from the waterfront in San Francisco

The bridge was unofficially “dedicated” to James B. “Sunny Jim” Rolph, Jr., but this was not widely recognized until the bridge’s 50th-anniversary celebrations in 1986. The official name of the bridge for all functional purposes has always been the “San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge”, and, by most local people, it is referred to simply as “the Bay Bridge.”

Rolph, a Mayor of San Francisco from 1912 to 1931, was the Governor of California at the time construction of the bridge began. He died in office on June 2, 1934, two years before the bridge opened, leaving the bridge to be named for him out of respect. In 1932, with an inability to finance the bridge, Joseph R. Knowland, (a former U.S. Congressman) travelled to Washington and helped to persuade President Herbert Hoover and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to advance $62 million for the building of the bridge.

Emperor Norton Naming Campaigns

In 1872, the San Francisco entrepreneur and eccentric Emperor Norton issued three proclamations calling for the design and construction of a suspension bridge between San Francisco and Oakland via Yerba Buena Island (formerly Goat Island).

A 1939 plaque honoring Emperor Norton for the original idea for the Bay Bridge was dedicated by the fraternal society E Clampus Vitus and was installed at The Cliff House in February 1955. In November 1986, in connection with the bridge’s 50th anniversary, the plaque was moved to the Transbay Terminal, the public transit and Greyhound bus depot at the west end of the bridge in downtown San Francisco. When the terminal was closed in 2010, the plaque was placed in storage.

There have been two recent campaigns to name all, or parts, of the Bay Bridge for Emperor Norton.

2004

In November 2004, after a campaign by San Francisco Chronicle cartoonist Phil Frank, then-San Francisco District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin introduced a resolution to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors calling for the entire two-bridge system, from San Francisco to Oakland, to be named for Emperor Norton.

On December 14, 2004, the Board approved a modified version of this resolution, calling for only “new additions” — i.e., the new eastern crossing — to be named “The Emperor Norton Bridge”. Neither the City of Oakland nor Alameda County passed any similar resolution, so the effort went no further.

2013

In June 2013, nine state assemblymen, joined by two state senators, introduced Assembly Concurrent Resolution No. 65 (ACR 65) to name the western crossing of the bridge for former California Assembly Speaker and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. Six weeks later, a grassroots petition was launched seeking to rename the entire two-bridge system for Emperor Norton. In September 2013, the petition’s author launched a nonprofit, The Emperor’s Bridge Campaign, that advocates for adding a name to honor Emperor Norton (rather than “renaming” the bridge) and that undertakes other efforts to advance Norton’s legacy.

2014

The state legislative resolution naming the western section of the Bay Bridge the “Willie L. Brown, Jr., Bridge” passed the Assembly in August 2013 and the Senate in September 2013. A ceremony was held on February 11, 2014, marking the resolution and the installation of signs on either end of the section.

The larger entity of which the western section is a part retains the separate and independent designation “San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge”.

Alexander Zuckermann Bike Path

The pedestrian and bicycle route on the eastern section opened on September 3, 2013, and is named after Alexander Zuckermann, founding chair of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition. This forms a transbay route for the San Francisco Bay Trail. Until October 2016, the path did not connect to Yerba Buena and Treasure Island sidewalks, due to the need to demolish more of the old eastern section before final construction. As of December 2016, the path is open only on weekends and holidays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. “to ensure public safety during torch cutting and other old Bay Bridge demolition activities.” This work is expected to be completed in 2017.

Financing and Tolls


When the Bay Bridge opened in 1936, the toll was 65 cents, collected in each direction. Within months, the toll was lowered to 50 cents in order to compete with the ferry system, and finally to 25 cents since this was shown sufficient to pay off the original revenue bonds on schedule. As with other bridges of the era, passage was supposed to become free after completion of the repayment of the original bonds.

In the interest of reducing the cost of collecting tolls and of building additional toll booths, all bridges in the Bay Area were converted to collect tolls in only one direction, with the toll amount collected doubled.[when?] Tolls on the Bay Bridge are now only collected from westbound traffic. Because the toll plaza is on the Oakland side, the western span is a de facto non-tolled bridge, as traffic between Yerba Buena Island and the main part of San Francisco can freely cross back and forth.

Tolls were subsequently raised to finance improvements to the bridge approaches, required to connect with new freeways, and to subsidize public transit in order to reduce the traffic over the bridge.

Caltrans, the state highway transportation agency, maintains seven of the eight San Francisco Bay Area bridges. (The Golden Gate Bridge is owned and maintained by the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.)

The basic toll (for automobiles) on the seven state bridges was raised to $1 by Regional Measure 1, approved by Bay Area voters in 1988. A $1 seismic retrofit surcharge was added in 1998 by the state legislature, originally for eight years, but since then extended to December 2037 (AB1171, October 2001). On March 2, 2004, voters approved Regional Measure 2, raising the toll by another dollar to a total of $3. An additional dollar was added to the toll starting January 1, 2007, to cover cost overruns concerning the replacement of the eastern span.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, a regional transportation agency, in its capacity as the Bay Area Toll Authority, administers RM1 and RM2 funds, a significant portion of which are allocated to public transit capital improvements and operating subsidies in the transportation corridors served by the bridges. Caltrans administers the “second dollar” seismic surcharge, and receives some of the MTC-administered funds to perform other maintenance work on the bridges. The Bay Area Toll Authority is made up of appointed officials put in place by various city and county governments, and is not subject to direct voter oversight.

Due to further funding shortages for seismic retrofit projects, the Bay Area Toll Authority again raised tolls on all Bay Area bridges in its control (this excludes the Golden Gate Bridge) in July 2010. The toll rate for autos on other Bay Area bridges was increased to US$5, but in the Bay Bridge a variable pricing tolling scheme based on congestion was implemented. The Bay Bridge congestion pricing scheme charges a US$6 toll from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. During weekends cars pay US$5. Carpools before the implementation were exempted but now they pay US$2.50, and the carpool toll discount is now also available only to drivers with FasTrak electronic toll devices. The toll remained at the previous toll of US$4 at all other times on weekdays. The Bay Area Toll Authority reported that by October 2010 fewer users are driving during the peak hours and more vehicles are crossing the Bay Bridge before and after the 5–10 a.m. period in which the congestion toll goes into effect. Commute delays in the first six months dropped by an average of 15% compared with 2009. For vehicles with more than two axles, the toll rate is US$5 per axle, regardless of the time of day.

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Panorama showing the West span, 2007

San Francisco–Oakland Panoramic view of the Bay Bridge with new eastern span

Panorama showing the Bay Bridge with the new eastern span, 2017

San Francisco Wikitravel Version

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  • San Francisco is a star article! It is a high-quality article complete with maps, photos, and great information.
  • San Francisco is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — have a look at each of them.

San Francisco is a major city in California, the centerpiece of the Bay Area, well-known for its liberal community, hilly terrain, Victorian architecture, scenic beauty, summer fog, and great ethnic and cultural diversity. These are only a few of the aspects of the city that make San Francisco one of the most visited cities in the world.

Although huge in terms of offerings, San Francisco is physically quite compact. It is located on a seven-by-seven mile (11 x 11km) square of land at the tip of a peninsula between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific coast. It has a population of 812,000 which represents a small fraction of the entire Bay Area population of 7.1 million. San Francisco is just one of the cities which makes up the entire San Francisco Bay Area. San Francisco’s neighbors -Oakland and Berkeley east of the Bay Bridge, Marin County north of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Peninsula south of the city are all part of separate counties, each with their own governments and local public transportation systems. San Francisco suffers from crime in some downtown districts like the Tenderloin, Mid Market, 6th Street, Soma and the Western Addition. The south-eastern part of the city also suffers from violent crime. Visitors should be aware of their surroundings when walking late at night near some downtown hotels. San Francisco also has a high rate of pedestrian and bicycle fatalities.

Districts


Us-ca-sanfran-goldengate

Golden Gate Bridge from Marin County with San Francisco in background

Each district of San Francisco carries its own unique and distinct culture. This map is predominantly based on the 11 official governmental districts of San Francisco, but it has been adapted to suit the purposes of this travel guide. Some districts of particular interest to travellers have been broken up into popular neighborhood groupings, while others, mainly residential districts, have been merged together.

660px-San_Francisco_districts_map

San Francisco Districts

Understand


History

Prior to European settlement in the area, the peninsula that now contains San Francisco was home to the Yelamu tribe, who were part of the larger Ohlone language group which stretched south from the Bay Area to the Big Sur of California. Due to San Francisco’s characteristic foggy weather, the earliest European explorers completely bypassed the Golden Gate and the San Francisco Bay.

The first European settlement in the area was founded by the Spanish in 1776 as a mission community surrounding the Mission San Francisco de Asís, in what is today called the Mission Dolores in the Mission District. In addition to the mission, a military fort was built near the Golden Gate: El Presidio.

Upon gaining independence from Spain in 1821, the area became part of Mexico. Under Mexican rule, the mission system gradually came to an end and private ownership of land became a possibility. In 1835, an Englishman named William Richardson founded the town of Yerba Buena, the first significant settlement on the peninsula outside of the Mission Dolores area. As the new settlement gradually grew, Yerba Buena developed a street plan and became attractive to settlers.

In 1846, the United States claimed California, and in July of that year, the US Navy arrived to raise the American flag above Yerba Buena. Over the next couple of years, California officially became part of the United States following the Mexican-American War, and the name of the town was changed from Yerba Buena to San Francisco.

With the California Gold Rush of 1848, San Francisco began to explode in population. Waves of immigrants came to the city to seek their fortunes, including large numbers of Chinese immigrants, forming one of the largest Chinese populations outside of Asia. During this time, many major businesses were created and flourished in San Francisco, and famous (and infamous) personalities settled in the city. Of course, with all this success came problems: the rapid growth of the city outstripped any efforts at city planning, meaning proper sanitation and infrastructure were largely undeveloped, which led to a cholera outbreak in 1855. Violence and corruption were evident, and anti-immigrant violence resulted in many race riots.

In the 1890’s, there was a large campaign to modernize and beautify the city, the success of which led some officials to proudly call San Francisco the “Paris of the West.” But in 1906, a devastating earthquake shook the city and a resulting fire leveled much of the city (in fact, almost 90% of the total damage was from the fire, and not the quake itself). Nevertheless, officials at the time immediately set out on a plan to rebuild the city, with new parks, boulevards, the current civic center complex, and landmarks such as the Coit Tower atop Telegraph Hill. In 1915, San Francisco hosted the Panama-Pacific Exposition (where the Palace of Fine Arts complex is currently located) to showcase the completely rebuilt city.

In the wake of the Great Depression of the 1930’s, San Francisco remained largely unscathed. In fact, it was during this time that the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge were conceived and built. It was also during this time that the Federal Government established a prison on Alcatraz Island, which would hold some of the most notorious criminals of the era.

After World War II, San Francisco continued to grow in population. Urban planning projects at the time led to more highrises downtown (including the Transamerica Pyramid) and the destruction of many neighborhoods to build freeways (many of which were later torn down after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake). In the same period, San Francisco became a center of counterculture and the hippie movement, contributing to San Francisco’s liberal outlook. San Francisco also became a center for gay men during this time, leading to the development of gay neighborhoods like the Castro.

More recently, San Francisco has experienced a boom in business. Despite falling victim to the dot-com bubble burst in the 1990s, the city’s economy largely recovered and gentrification of neighborhoods like SoMa continues.

Today San Francisco is known for its liberal outlook and remains one of America’s top tourist destinations. Tourism is the city’s largest industry.

Climate

San Francisco Climate

San Francisco has a mild climate, with cool, wet winters and dry summers. In most months, you can expect the high temperature to be in the upper 50s, 60s or low 70s degree Fahrenheit (15-25°C). However, these mild temperature readings belie a unique climate not shared by other major cities in the state or country. Essentially San Francisco is never warmer than 73 degrees but never colder than 50 degrees. The nights are chilly so usually people in San Francisco always carry around a light jacket because the temperatures can drop or rise drastically within an hour.

Summer days usually start out under fog, slowly burning off towards the ocean into a sunny albeit windy afternoon. Measurable precipitation during the summer months is rare, although light drizzle is possible. Humidity is very constant, but rarely uncomfortable. At late afternoon, when the fog and wind returns people generally find themselves needing a jacket (and this is summer!). There are some days when the fog lingers all day.

In the winter, the rainy season is in full swing. That being said, the chances for a calm, windless, sunny day are actually higher in the winter than in the summer! However, the overall temperatures are going to be lower in the winter.

Spring and fall are not so much seasons in themselves in San Francisco, but rather they are quick transitional periods with some days resembling summer and others the winter. Fall in particular is a good time to visit because the summer wind & fog has mostly gone, but the rainy season has not yet started. The late summer month of September, as summer transitions into fall, is the warmest and driest month of the entire year for San Francisco. Heat waves can occasionally occur around this time of year.

Within these general rules, San Francisco also has a series of microclimates created by the city’s topography and maritime setting. Large hills in the city’s center block much of the fog, wind, and precipitation that rolls in from the Pacific Ocean. Because of this, there can be significant weather differences in different parts of the city and the surrounding Bay Area at the same time. Generally, the more windward areas along the coast are cooler and foggier, while the more leeward areas in the east are warmer and drier. Temperature differences of 10-15 degrees or so are common on days where the fog persists on the western side of the city. These differences continues as you move east, out of the city and into the outer East Bay (on the other side of the hills from Berkeley and Oakland), where it can be much hotter and drier. Local meteorologists routinely have three forecasts: one for the coast, one for the bay, and one for the inland areas. In short, if you don’t like the weather, perhaps travel a few miles east or west to your desired climate.

Literature

San Francisco literature finds its roots in the city’s long and often tumultuous history, its diversity, and its attraction to eclectic characters; the city was a major center for the Beat poetry movement and seems to also hold an uncanny attraction for science fiction writers. Among the most famous works set in San Francisco:

  • Jack Kerouac spent a lot of time in San Francisco, and portions of two of his most influential works are set here: On the Road and The Dharma Bums. Both are accounts of Kerouac examining his place in the universe; the first a tale of a man travelling the country, the second a story of someone looking for the simple life.
  • The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett. A gripping detective novel set in San Francisco that would come to define the private detective genre. The novel follows private eye Sam Spade as he tries to retrieve a valuable bird figurine, and has been adapted into film twice, including one where Spade was played by none other than Humphrey Bogart.
  • Tales of the City, Armistead Maupin. A famous series which offers an excellent look into 1970’s San Francisco, particularly the city’s counter culture and alternative lifestyles.
  • Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson lived in San Francisco in the mid-60s and the city appears in many of his books and articles.
  • Anne Rice lived in San Francisco in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. She wrote her best known novel, “Interview with a Vampire” while living in San Francisco.
  • Philip K. Dick spent much of his life in the San Francisco area, and among his novels set here are Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, set in a post-apocalyptic near future where androids serve humankind and bounty hunters are called in to “retire” androids that become too independent, and The Man in the High Castle, an alternate universe novel where Japan and Germany won World War II.
  • The Bridge trilogy (Virtual Light, Idoru, and All Tomorrow’s Parties), William Gibson. Set in a futuristic San Francisco following a massive earthquake, in which the city has been rebuilt using nanotechnology and a race is on to control the new cyberspace technology.
  • Altered Carbon, Richard K. Morgan. Also set in a futuristic San Francisco, where human personalities can be stored digitally and downloaded into new bodies.
  • The Crying of Lot 49, Thomas Pynchon. A renowned novel which follows a woman who sinks into paranoia as she attempts to unravel a worldwide conspiracy.
  • The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan. A story of four Chinese American immigrant families who start a club and spend their time playing the Chinese game of Mahjong and tell of their struggles in travelling to America.
  • The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe. A nonfictional account which perfectly captures the Hippie movement, following a band of psychedelic drug users across the country in their painted school bus.
  • Barbary Coast, Herbert Asbury. For a non-fictional work on the tumultuous early history of San Francisco, this is an excellent choice.

Movies

San Francisco has been the backdrop for many films, due in part to the Bay Area’s vibrant film-making community and the city’s proximity to Hollywood. The production companies of George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, along with the animation company Pixar are just a few of the big players who call the San Francisco area home. Among the better films set in San Francisco:

  • The Maltese Falcon (John Huston, 1941). Humphrey Bogart stars as a San Francisco private detective dealing with three unscrupulous adventurers who compete to obtain a fabulous jewel-encrusted statuette of a falcon.
  • Dark Passage (Delmer Daves, 1947). An offbeat film noir featuring two icons of the genre, Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. The city’s dark alleyways and side streets are on prominent display throughout the eccentric story of a man wrongly accused of murder and an enigmatic woman who lives in a lavish art deco apartment on top of the Filbert Steps.
  • Vertigo (Alfred Hitchcock, 1958). While it’s not the only Hitchcock film set in San Francisco (portions of The Birds are set here), Vertigo really packs in a lot the city, following a private investigator who suffers from acrophobia as he uncovers the mystery of one woman’s peculiar behavior and travels from one San Francisco landmark to the next.
  • Bullitt (Peter Yates, 1968). A very popular and highly influential crime thriller starring Steve McQueen (who also starred in the locally-set The Towering Inferno) and featuring one of the best car chase scenes in the history of cinema.
  • Psych-Out (Richard Rush, 1968). An incredibly trippy film with psychedelic music (including an appearance from Strawberry Alarm Clock), recreational drugs, and Haight-Ashbury — Hippies aplenty in this one.
  • Dirty Harry (Don Siegel, 1971). Another cop film set in San Francisco (in addition, all but one of the sequels were also set here), starring Clint Eastwood chasing down sadistic killers and asking people if they feel lucky. Well do they, punk?
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Philip Kaufman, 1978). Emotionless drones impersonating people and hatched from pods take over San Francisco in this classic science fiction flick.
  • 48 Hrs. (Walter Hill, 1982). Often credited with starting the buddy-cop genre, this flick follows a hot-headed cop who has to team up with a wisecracking convict in order to find two cop killers in the crime-ridden underworld of San Francisco.
  • Chan Is Missing (Wayne Wang, 1982). Illustrating the problems experienced by Chinese-Americans, this film tells the story of two taxi drivers searching Chinatown for a man who ran off with their money.
  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (Leonard Nimoy, 1986). In the 23rd century, San Francisco is the home of Starfleet Command and humpback whales have long been extinct. In this instalment of the popular franchise, Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the crew have to time travel to a more contemporary San Francisco to bring back a couple of whales and save Earth.
  • Milk (Gus Van Sant, 2008). A recent biopic on the life of Harvey Milk, the former San Francisco City Supervisor in the late 1970s and the first openly gay man to be elected to public office. This story still holds sway for many San Franciscans given the city’s role in the ongoing gay rights movement.
  • La Mission (Peter Bratt, 2009). Ultra-macho ex-con Che Rivera learns the true meaning of being a father when he discovers his son is gay.
  • A whole host of great films have been set at Alcatraz; among them are Escape from Alcatraz (Don Siegel, 1979), Birdman of Alcatraz (John Frankenheimer, 1962), The Rock (Michael Bay, 1996), and the very influential Point Blank (John Boorman, 1967), The Room (Tommy Wiseau, 2003).

Tourist Information

San Francisco’s visitor information centers offer maps, brochures and other information for tourists.

  • San Francisco Visitor Information Center, 900 Market Street (next to the Cable Car turnaround at Market & Powell), ☎ +1 415 391-2000 (fax: +1 415 362-7323), May-Oct M-F 9am-5pm, Sa-Su and holidays 9am-3pm; Nov-Apr M-F 9am-5pm, Sa and holidays 9am-3pm. Closed Easter, Thanksgiving Day, 25 Dec & 1 Jan. Visitor Center run by the San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau. edit
  • California Welcome Center, Pier 39, Building P, Second Level, ☎ +1 415 981-1280 (info@pier39.com), One of several California Welcome Centers across the state. 

Talk

English is the dominant language spoken in San Francisco. Cantonese is spoken by the majority of San Francisco’s large Chinese population, with an increasing Mandarin-speaking minority. Spanish is also commonly spoken in San Francisco, although not as common as in the rest of California.

Get In

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Map of San Francisco

By Plane

  • San Francisco International, +1 800 435 9736, (IATA: SFO) located about 10 mi (16km) south of the city is a major international airport, one of the largest in the world and has numerous passenger amenities including a wide range of food and drink establishments, shopping, baggage storage, public showers, a medical clinic, and assistance for lost or stranded travelers and military personnel. It is the major hub for Virgin America and United as well as a major international airport with direct flights to Asia, Latin America and Europe from airlines that include British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
  • Oakland International, +1 510 563-3300, (IATA: OAK) in the East Bay provides service to numerous destinations in the United States as well as Mexico and Scandinavia. It is a major hub for Southwest airlines.
  • Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International, +1 408 277-4759, (IATA: SJC) in Silicon Valley, about 1 hour south of San Francisco attracts Bay Area residents who find SFO to be inconveniently distant from their homes. Daily long haul destinations include Tokyo (ANA) and London (British Airways). Beijing (Hainan) and Shanghai (Air China) are served multiple times a week while Frankfurt (Lufthansa) is seasonal (summer).

Oakland and San Jose tend to offer more discount airline flights, while San Francisco Airport attracts more international flights and can be more convenient for those staying in the city. Private pilots should consider Oakland (ICAO: KOAK) rather than SFO, as the separate general aviation field there is more accommodating to light aircraft.

Public Airport Transportation

San Francisco and Oakland Airports are connected to downtown SF by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system.

Passengers arriving in SFO can walk (5 minutes from United’s domestic terminal) or take a free airport shuttle (AirTrain) to the BART station, which is adjacent to the G side of the International Terminal. The BART ride from SFO to San Francisco downtown costs $8.95 one-way and runs frequently, every 15 or 20 minutes depending on the time of day. Ticket machines accept cash – giving back change – and debit cards. BART trains run through San Bruno, South San Francisco, Colma, Daly City before reaching the city of San Francisco; from there Muni can take travellers anywhere in the city. More information on travel from SFO is available from BART’s website.

SFO is also connected to San Francisco by SamTrans routes 292, 397, and KX. Routes 292 and 397 are $2 to San Francisco, while KX is $5. Large luggage is generally not permitted on the KX bus.

From Oakland Airport, an automated shuttle train connects to the Colliseum BART station, where trains to downtown San Francisco and other Bay Area destinations arrive frequently. The total cost to travel to downtown San Francisco is $10.20. More information is available from BART’s website.

The San Jose airport is served by a free shuttle to both VTA Light Rail and Caltrain called the Airport Flyer — VTA Route #10. Passengers arriving in San Jose can use Caltrain to reach San Francisco directly (this costs $10.50 one-way [4 zone]). Caltrain also links with the BART system at the Millbrae intermodal station. Be aware that public transportation within the South Bay is not as developed as around San Francisco. Also, when riding Caltrain, be sure to buy your ticket at the automated station kiosks before boarding, as they are not sold on the trains.

Private Airport Transportation

Taxis are considerably more expensive than the public transportation options. A taxi from SFO to the city can easily cost more than $40, and over $60 from OAK. Taxi and van prices from San Jose to San Francisco are significantly higher. Shared vans will cost around $14. If you plan to drive from a car rental area near the SFO airport to downtown San Francisco, you can take the 101 freeway. When returning a rental car to SFO, remember to take the rental car exit, otherwise you will have to wind your way slowly back to the rental car center. There are other options around SF like Uber or ShuttleWizard or Chauffeur that are cheap and safe options especially for tourist who don’t know how to move around by public transportation services.

By Train

Amtrak, ☎ +1 800 872 7245, serves the Bay Area with long-distance and intercity trains. San Francisco’s long distance station is across the bay, outside city limits. Passengers arrive in Emeryville or Oakland’s Jack London Square Station in the East Bay and may take an Amtrak California Thruway bus over the Bay Bridge to San Francisco’s Amtrak stop at the Temporary Transbay Terminal (Folsom and Beale Streets) and usually several other downtown destinations (note that Amtrak passengers are not subjected to any extra charge for the bus). Travellers on some shorter distance Amtrak routes can also transfer to BART trains at the Richmond or Oakland Coliseum stations (see below). Alternatively, riders approaching the Bay Area from the south may transfer to Caltrain at San Jose’s Diridon Station for a direct ride to Fourth and King Streets in San Francisco.

Amtrak routes serving the Bay Area are:

  • The California Zephyr runs daily between Chicago and Emeryville with connections to/from the east coast.
  • The Coast Starlight runs daily between Seattle, Portland, Emeryville, and Los Angeles. To reach San Francisco, either transfer to Caltrain in San Jose or to the Amtrak bus in Emeryville.
  • The Capitol Corridor runs 16 times daily (11 on weekends and holidays) between Sacramento and Emeryville, with some trains also serving San Jose. Caltrain (see below) is the best bet to get between San Jose and San Francisco, but the most convenient transfer to San Francisco is via the Amtrak bus at Emeryville or to BART at either the Richmond station north of Emeryville or the Oakland Coliseum station for trains continuing south of Emeryville. Discount BART tickets can be purchased in the cafe car.
  • The San Joaquins runs 4 times daily between Bakersfield, Stockton and Emeryville. Travelers on the San Joaquins can continue on to San Francisco via the Amtrak bus at Emeryville or by transferring to the BART at the Richmond station. Discount BART tickets can be purchased in the cafe car.

There are two regional rail systems which serve San Francisco:

Caltrain, +1 510 817-1717, operates a regional rail service from San Jose to its San Francisco terminal at Fourth and King. The service also runs between San Jose and Gilroy during rush hour. Caltrain is very useful for travel between San Francisco and communities on the Peninsula, Silicon Valley or South Bay. On weekdays Caltrain provides one train per hour midday and evening (c. 10am-2pm & 7pm-11pm) but up to 4 per hour during commute hours, including “Baby Bullet” limited services that cruise between San Francisco and San Jose in about 1 hour; on weekends and public holidays trains run hourly, except that after 10pm only one train runs, leaving at midnight. The 4th & King terminal is served by Muni Metro (see ‘Get around’ below) giving connections to the rest of the city. Fares vary depending on how far you go. Tickets must be purchased before boarding the train from ticket vending machines at any of the stations or from ticket clerks at staffed stations. Tickets are checked on the trains and anyone found without a ticket is liable to a substantial fine. Cyclists should use the designated car at the northern end of the train, and be aware that bike space is often limited during commute hours.

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), +1 415 989-2278, provides a regional frequent rail service connecting much of the East Bay and Contra Costa County with San Francisco and the San Francisco Airport through the Transbay Tube, a tunnel underneath San Francisco Bay. BART operates five routes, of which four run through San Francisco. There are three or four trains per hour on each route; consequently trains within San Francisco require generally less than a 5 minute wait. In the East Bay, BART runs mostly on elevated track; in downtown San Francisco it runs in a subway under Market Street, and several underground stations provide easy access to downtown areas and simple transfers to the Muni Metro subway. BART meets Caltrain at Millbrae. Bicycles are allowed on BART except between stations designated in the schedule brochure during commute hours. Fares vary depending with distance travelled, and start at $1.85 for trips within the city. You will need to insert your ticket into barriers when entering and exiting the system. Tickets hold a balance, deducting the appropriate price for each trip, so someone who plans to use the system several times can buy a $10 or $20 ticket and not worry about fares until the card is used up. Note that the BART vending machines accept primarily cash or debit cards, some accept credit cards but only twice within any 24 hour period. BART also accepts the Clipper Card, and BART ticket machines can be used to refill Clipper Cards, although do not sell them.

By Bus

Unfortunately there is no central bus terminal or intermodal terminals in San Francisco. Each company has their own terminal or stops located in/around downtown, SoMa and Tenderloin/Civic Center. They are:

  • Bolt Bus, Greyhound Terminal, 200 Folsom St (Slip 1 @ Greyhound Terminal), ☎ +1 877 265-8287, Goes down to the downtown Union Station in Los Angeles. 
  • California Shuttle Bus, Hilton Hotel, 333 O’Farrell St (Picks up Mason St across from Nikko Hotel), ☎ +1 408 294-1798 (sales@cashuttlebus.com), offers service to Los Angeles via San Jose. Another stop at Carl’s Jr, 25 Cyril Magnin St (Cyril Magnin & Eddy St). Charter buses with free Wi-Fi, reserved seating, 2 bags allowed for free (3rd for $15), and bicycles allowed for $5. Prices start at $15. 
  • Greyhound, 200 Folsom St (Folsom & Main, 3 blocks SE from the Embarcadero BART station in downtown San Francisco), ☎ +1 415 495-1569, Travels primarily on Interstate 80 (S Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Colfax, Truckee, Reno); Interstate 5/CA-133 (Los Angeles, Avenal, Gilroy, San Jose, S Francsico/Oakland); US 101 south (San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Salinas, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Oxnard & Los Angeles); US-101 north (San Francisco, Oakland, Santa Rosa, Willits, Eureka, Arcata); CA-152/99 (S Francisco, San Jose, Gilroy, Los Banos, Madera, & Fresno); Interstate 580/CA-99 (San Francisco, Oakland, Hayward, Modesto, Fresno, Bakersfield, S Fernando and Los Angeles). Passengers transfer to other buses or Amtrak California in Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Luis Obispo, Reno, Bakersfield and/or Fresno to get to other cities.
  • Hoang Express, McDonald’s, 600 Van Ness (Van Ness & Golden Gate Ave in Tenderloin/Civic Center), offers service to Los Angeles and San Diego.
    megabus.com, Townsend St between 4th & 5th St (The stop is at the passenger boarding zone near the north entrance to the 4th Street Caltrain station in SoMa), ☎ +1 877-462-6342, Express bus service to/from Los Angeles. Double Deck Coaches with WiFi, Restrooms, Power Outlets and seats starting at $1 with dynamic pricing; average prices around $20. 

Several regional bus / train systems serve San Francisco from the immediate suburbs:

  • AC Transit, +1 510 891-4700, from Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, and other East Bay cities (in Alameda County).
  • SamTrans, +1 510 817-1717, from San Mateo County.
  • Golden Gate Transit, +1 415 455-2000, from Sonoma and Marin counties.
  • WestCAT, +1 510 724-7993, from Contra Costa County.
  • Vallejo Baylink, +1 707 643-3779, (in conjunction with BayLink Ferry) from Vallejo.
    BART , +1 510 465-2278, runs commuter trains between various places in San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda, Vallejo and Contra Costa Counties including the San
  • Francisco International Airport.
  • 511.org, provides streamlined information on getting around the bay area by public transport with various transit agencies, train companies and ferries including a trip planner program.

By Boat

In many ways a boat is the ideal way to approach San Francisco. The city’s spectacular skyline is best appreciated from the water, and from the deck of a boat the bay and its bridges and islands can be viewed as a whole. Cruise ships and private yachts are regular visitors to San Francisco, and passenger ferries regularly link other Bay Area cities to San Francisco.

Ferries run to San Francisco from Larkspur, Sausalito and Tiburon in Marin County, from Vallejo in Solano County and from Alameda and Oakland in the East Bay. In San Francisco, the ferries dock at one or both of the city’s two piers at Fisherman’s Wharf and the Ferry Building, the later of which is a very short walk from the Amtrak San Francisco bus stop as well as Embarcadero Station, where the BART and Muni trains stop, and the stop for the historic streetcars that run above ground down Market Street. For more information on boat connections:

  • Golden Gate Ferries, ☎ +1 415 455-2000. Serving Larkspur and Sausalito.
  • Blue and Gold Fleet, ☎ +1 415 705-8200. Serving Alameda, Angel Island, Oakland, Sausalito, Tiburon and Vallejo.
  • BayLink Ferry, ☎ +1 877 643-3779. Serving Vallejo.
  • Alameda Oakland Ferry, ☎ +1 510 522-3300. Serving Alameda and Oakland.
  • Harbor Bay Ferry, ☎ +1 510 769-5500. Serving (a different location in) Alameda.

By Car

There are four major highway approaches to San Francisco. US-101 comes up the eastern side of the SF peninsula and is the most direct route from the south, although it often backs up with traffic. Interstate 280 is a more scenic route into the city from the same direction, but with poorer connections than 101. The I-280 San Jose Avenue exit (#52, but poorly marked) avoids dense rush hour bridge traffic for drivers going to areas as the Civic Center. Interstate 80 approaches the city from the east over the San Francisco Bay Bridge. From the north, US-101 takes you over the Golden Gate Bridge.

All Bay Area toll bridges have toll plazas that charge tolls in one direction only. That direction is usually north or west, although the Golden Gate Bridge charges tolls only to traffic going south. All bridges except the Golden Gate Bridge still have cash toll booths; simply enter any open lane that has a “CASH” or “FASTRAK/CASH” sign. All bridges have a sign for “last exit before toll.”

As of 2012, the Golden Gate Bridge has closed all cash toll booths and fully converted to electronic toll collection. All users must have a FasTrak transponder issued by one of the state’s various toll road agencies (many California rental car agencies can rent a transponder with their vehicles for a “convenience fee”) or will receive a bill for the toll amount, to be settled within 21 days of crossing. Note that the large-scale rental companies will automatically bill you for any tolls incurred, plus a daily charge ($3 as of June 2013) that accrues on every day of your rental period following your crossing the Bridge) – this can be avoided if you pre-pay, see here for further details]).

The toll plaza is equipped with cameras to record license plates of vehicles that do not have transponders. Tolls can be paid online or at one of several retail locations that take cash. If you want to pay with cash, be advised that even locals sometimes have a hard time calculating the correct toll fees. Consider using this handy tool to estimate the fees for you: Bay Area Tolls.

Get Around


Navigating

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No left turns (or U-turns) allowed on 19th Avenue

Cross streets. As San Francisco streets are numbered (100 per block) from the beginning of the street, and even and odd numbers are always on opposite sides, it is best when asking directions to ask for a cross street or neighborhood name rather than relying on the address alone. For instance, addresses on Mission Street at 18th Street are in the 2200s, but one block away on Valencia at 18th, addresses are only in the 700s. This is because Mission starts at the Embarcadero, two miles further east than Valencia’s start at Market Street. Local residents rely on cross streets.

Numbered streets and avenues. San Francisco has both numbered streets, in the Mission, the Castro, and SoMa, and numbered streets an alphabetically ordered avenues in the largely residential Richmond (starting with Anza) and Sunset districts (ending with Yorba). Mixing numbered streets and avenues when asking directions may leave you miles from your destination. This can be confusing, as San Franciscans will not say “Street” or “Avenue” unless it is required to avoid ambiguity. Thus, they won’t say “I live on Fifth Avenue,” but will say “I live near Fifth and Geary.” Street signs generally don’t have “Street” or “Avenue” either; they just say “GEARY” or “MASONIC”, although numbered streets and avenues do.

Multiple street grids. One of the most confusing aspects of driving in San Francisco is the presence of multiple street grids, particularly in the downtown area where two grids intersect at an angle along Market Street. Even more confusing are streets in the middle of the standard blocks, like New Montgomery Street.

No left turns. Several key San Francisco arterial streets, including 19th Avenue and Market Street, do not have space for dedicated left turn lanes and therefore bear NO LEFT TURN signs at most intersections. As a result, you will be frustrated when you drive for miles on these streets with no opportunity to turn left. The trick, of course, is to go around the block with multiple right turns after passing one’s desired street, which requires you to stay in the right lane, not the left lane.

On Foot

Walking can be an enticing option to get from one neighborhood to another, so long as you are aware of where you are and keep your street smarts. San Francisco is a city of friendly neighborhoods, but it is also a big city so be aware of your surroundings and keep in mind the dangers that commonly accompany a city of San Francisco’s size.

However, streets that often go straight up and down hills may make walking challenging when attempting the uphill portions (but provide good exercise). Driving can be difficult up and down hills but have breathtaking views. There are many stairway walks scattered throughout the city when the streets are too steep. You can find maps that include hiking trails, bikeways, and the grade pitch of all streets marked in varying colors by how steep each segment is, that can help you orient to city walks suitable to your ability and temperament, such as the downloadable map issued by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

Note that locals rarely use the designations “street” or “avenue,” even when differentiating the numbered streets and avenues. Numbered roads designated “Street” are located on the east side of the city, south of Market in Downtown, Castro, Noe Valley, and Mission. Numbered roads designated “Avenue” put you in the Richmond and Sunset districts on the west side.

By Public Transit

690px-San_francisco_rail_system

San Francisco Rail Systems

San Francisco has one of the most comprehensive public transportation systems in the United States, arguably the most comprehensive system west of Chicago. Transport services within San Francisco are provided by several bodies; they are separate organizations and although they have many interchange stations, tickets are not normally transferable across the systems (except for monthly or longer period passes). The major transit systems are:

  • Muni — Metro subway, streetcars, buses, trolley buses and cable cars within San Francisco proper.
  • BART — regional subway services in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Caltrain — commuter rail services to San José.

San Francisco Municipal Railway or Muni, +1 415 701-2311, runs a network of local transport that covers most areas of touristic interest well. An all day Muni passport good on all Muni services, including Cable Cars, costs $20. Other passports and passes are available for longer periods: a 3-day pass costs $31, while a 7 day pass costs $40. The passports come in the form of scratch cards; be sure to scratch off the appropriate dates before using.

The Clipper Card was fully introduced in 2010 and is a contact-less, multi-agency fare card similar to Octopus in Hong Kong and Charlie Card in Boston. Clipper cards are free at any MUNI ticket machine and are accepted on BART, CalTrain, San Francisco ferries, and many regional transit systems outside the City of San Francisco, in addition to all of MUNI’s vehicles (streetcar/subway, busses and cable cars). Clipper can either be set up with pay as you go with all transfers calculated automatically or a 1 day, 3 day, 7 day or monthly pass. MUNI has also created a single use “Clipper Ticket” as the new subway turnstiles no longer accept cash. You can still pay with exact change when boarding a streetcar above ground or a bus. Drivers will accept over-payment, but cannot make change.

MUNI operates on a proof of payment basis, sometimes called an “honor system with teeth.” 90 minutes of travel on the Muni system (Metro, F-line streetcar, buses) costs $2.25 ($0.75 for youth 5-17, disabled, and seniors 65+) including transfers and return trips if they fall within the 90 minute limit. If you’re using a Clipper Card, be sure you “touch on” at any of the readers located near the streetcar or bus door to pay your fare and start the 90 minute clock (you can board at any door as they all have readers). If you aren’t using a Clipper Card, don’t have a Muni passport, and pay cash, you must board at the front door and obtain a transfer ticket from the driver. The MUNI Saturation Team (fare inspectors) and sometimes the SFPD randomly and frequently patrol streetcars, subway stations and buses with handheld Clipper Card readers checking for proper fare – residents who ride MUNI regularly report being checked once or twice a week. The fine for being caught without proof of payment is $250, although tourists are sometimes issued a warning if it’s their first offense.

Cable Cars are not included in these transfers and cost $7 per ride (one way, no transfers), or $20 per day. Before 7am and after 9pm, seniors and disabled pay $3 for cable car rides. Muni Passports and FastPasses greatly reduce this cost, including cable cars in the regular daily, weekly or monthly fares.

A portable wallet-sized map of San Francisco and all its public transit (MUNI, BART, Caltrain) is also available at stores around the city or through their website online Many of the city’s bus stops also have posted copies of this map with the location of the stop marked, a godsend for lost pedestrians.

You can plan your Muni travel online. Muni arrival times are also available online for many lines at NextMuni.

Muni consists of:

  • Muni Metro (Lines J, K, L, M, N, S and T) is a modern light rail and subway system. It connects many southern and western neighborhoods to downtown, where you can transfer to one of BART’s four downtown stations and the Caltrain terminal at 4th and King. Outside of the Market Street and Twin Peaks subways, Muni Metro operates as a surface light rail system, running in the center of the street with stops every couple of blocks (note that some of these stops are not wheelchair accessible – check the map to see which ones are). Tickets can be purchased from ticket vending machines before boarding; if the stop does not have such a machine and you do not have a ticket, you must board through the front door and buy one from the driver or risk being fined by a fare inspector. MUNI Metro operates seven days a week from 4:30am to 1:30am. Between 1:30am and 5am, OWL Buses substitute for Metro service. The Metro system (trains and buses) has a reputation for being extremely crowded. Buses are often slow due to frequent stops and heavy boarding especially during rush hour. However, it is by far superior to most other parts of the Bay Area.
    The Historic Streetcar E and F Lines use historic streetcars, in original colors from several cities in the US, Milan, Italy, and Zurich, Switzerland. The F line runs from Fisherman’s Wharf south along the waterfront Embarcadero to the ferry building at the foot of Market Street, then up Market Street on the surface to the Castro district, terminating near the Castro Theater. The E line runs from the Caltrain station, along Embarcadero to Fisherman’s Wharf. Board through the front door and buy tickets from the operator if you do not already have a transfer or pass.
  • The world-famous Cable Cars run on three lines in the steep streets between Market Street and Fisherman’s Wharf: the north-south Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde lines and the east-west California Street line. These cars are a fun ride, especially if you get to stand on the running board, if a bit impractical for everyday use (though residents of Nob and Russian Hills do, in fact, use them on a daily basis). The cable car is such an attraction that, especially on weekends, it takes longer to wait in line to ride up Powell Street than it does to walk the short but sloping distance. If you want to save yourself time standing in line at the turnaround, just walk up a couple of blocks to the next stop — the conductors save a few spaces for people boarding along the way; you won’t get first choice of seats, but you’ll save yourself a long time standing in line. Board through any door or just grab a pole on the running boards; tickets are checked and sold by a uniformed conductor. Do not buy tickets from anyone off the car except for clearly marked ticket booths — scam artists are common.
  • Both diesel and electric trolley buses serve the rest of city. Board through the front door and buy tickets from or show your pass or transfer to the driver. You may board the back with a Clipper card, however their cost makes them only recommended for visitors staying for at least a month. Service ranges from a consistent two minutes on many lines leaving Market, to a more sporadic 20 minutes for buses to Treasure Island and between outlying neighborhoods. Bus delays, leading to waits of 20 to 30 minutes, are not uncommon and are a source of much grousing among locals. MUNI operates 24 hours a day / seven days a week in San Francisco although late night owl service is limited in both lines and stops.

Other public transportation options include:

  • BART, the regional metro, has eight stations in San Francisco, making it a nice way to get between well-trafficked parts of the city, especially downtown and the Mission. BART gets you across the Bay to Berkeley and Oakland and to the airports of San Francisco and Oakland. BART Trains run over 107 miles (172km) of track, serving 46 stations. BART trains operate on third rail power and accelerate to speeds approaching 80mph (130km/h). BART operates seven days a week from 4am to 12:30am. On weekdays BART trains depart downtown San Francisco stations at two to three minute intervals. Outer stations in far outlying suburbs have a maximum wait of fifteen to twenty minutes between trains. After 12:30am, AC Transit and other east bay transit providers provide late-night bus service, serving principal BART stations until about 6am. BART routes are named for the two terminus stations, not by line color as denoted on the system map. For more information on BART, see the ‘Get in’ section above.
  • Caltrain has three stops within San Francisco. Other than the 4th and King terminal in SoMa, these are the 22nd St. Station and the Bayshore Station (off Tunnel Ave), neither of which are particularly attractive for visitors. Of interest to visitors who wish to travel outside of the city is the Palo Alto Station (at University Avenue), across the street from the campus of Stanford University, and San Jose Diridon Station. Burlingame, San Mateo, Redwood City and Mountain View also have attractive downtown areas that are easily accessible from the stations and have attractive retail and restaurant areas. Caltrain operates fast frequent commuter rail service, seven days a week. Service generally runs from 5am to midnight. For more information on Caltrain, see the ‘Get in’ section above. If you are using Caltrain to see the peninsula and South Bay make sure you buy a “day pass” from the ticket machine. It is the same price as two one way tickets but gives you unlimited on-off privileges for any station within the zones purchased so can be a great way to see several of the peninsula cities.

By Bike

If you have strong legs and a bit of urban cycling experience, bicycles are an excellent option for transportation within San Francisco. The city is fairly small in land area– just about 7 miles from north to south and 7 miles from east to west– so it’s fairly quick to get from one end to the other, and in recent years, the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency has installed many miles of new bike lanes and paths. Cycling is a common transportation choice for San Francisco residents, moreso than in most other American cities, as it is often the quickest way across town. This means that motorists will generally be aware of the presence of cyclists on the roadway. However, it is extremely important to ride with caution, as gridlock and congestion can lead motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists alike to act unpredictably and in an unsafe manner, at times. Theft of bicycle parts and entire bicycles is unfortunately very common in San Francisco, so it is recommended to avoid leaving a bicycle unattended in public for extended periods of time, and if it is necessary to do so, to lock the bicycle as securely as possible, with a strong lock.

If you plan on cycling in San Francisco, consider that much of the terrain is extremely hilly, making for some tough climbs. In addition, coming downhill means, if you’re not careful, you may find yourself barreling out of control into cross traffic at the bottom of the hill. However, there is almost always a bicycle route to get you from one place to another while avoiding major climbs within the city. If you’re unsure of how to get around the hills, ask a local cyclist for advice.

Do not be misled by maps depicting the city’s street grid and assume that these streets are always flat. Even the straightest of San Francisco’s streets might include steep hills or even staircases instead of a roadway. And remember, children may tire even sooner than adults will. A recommended easy ride for children and cyclists with little experience is from the tip of Golden Gate Park’s panhandle in the Haight, along paths and JFK Drive through the park to Ocean Beach. JFK Drive is lightly trafficked, and its eastern portion (between Kezar and Transverse Drives) is closed to cars on Sundays.

SoMa, the Mission, the Sunset, and Richmond districts are relatively flat. There are a number of bike paths and bike routes on city streets; the San Francisco Bike Coalition keeps a lot of information about them. There are a number of bike rental companies in town, including Dylan’s Bike Rental ,Bay City Bike , Bike and Roll and Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals with locations in Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Bike Hut and Pacific Bicycle in SoMa.

A very popular ride for visitors to San Francisco is the ride across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, a small town in the relatively undeveloped Marin Headlands. The Golden Gate Bridge has sectioned off pathways on each side for pedestrians and bicyclists. When open, the Western side of the bridge is for cyclists only. When the Western side is closed for construction, the Eastern side is intended for shared use by pedestrians and cyclists. When sharing the Western side with pedestrians, ride courteously. Avoid riding side-by-side, and do your best to make way for groups of pedestrians, as well as commuting cyclists, who ride at higher speeds, and generally have less patience for obstructions. When the bridge is closed to pedestrians during nighttime, you may continue to bicycle across by stopping to press the buzzer at the automatically closed gates to be buzzed in and out.

By Taxi

Taxis in San Francisco are, for a large city, surprisingly inefficient and expensive, starting at $3.50 just for getting in the cab and $0.55 per fifth of a mile and per minute of waiting. You can get an idea of how much particular taxi trips cost in San Francisco using the San Francisco Taxicab Commission’s webpage.

San Francisco is home to several startups which are trying to provide a better ride-for-hire service, including Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar, which are generally cheaper and more reliable than a taxi. Download the free app for any company to view cars in your area, and request a ride.

Except for taxi stations at or near downtown business hotels, or cruising just a few major arteries, taxis can be hard to find and hail — and calling for a cab can mean a 30-45 minute wait, if the cab shows up at all. Now, if you’re anywhere near Union Square and are holding shopping bags, just by standing on the curb and hailing passing cabs will usually get you one quite quickly. It is significantly easier to catch a taxi on weekdays, not including Friday night.

If you are heading to the airport, your best bet is to call ahead with a specific pickup time to one of the many taxi companies. You will also want to schedule your cab ahead of time because if you are going beyond 15 miles, you will end up paying 50% extra.

By Car

Perpetually-clogged traffic, steep hills, a confusing system of one-way streets downtown, expensive parking, and a fleet of parking control officers who enforce parking laws with zeal can make driving in central San Francisco extremely frustrating; visitors to the city should seriously consider alternatives to automobiles when possible. Car rental is expensive, registration fees are the highest of any US state, and because collisions are common, rates for liability insurance (legally required) are high as well. In addition, traffic from the Golden Gate Bridge uses surface streets either along CA-1, 19th Avenue or US-101 on Lombard and Van Ness. A car is really only useful for visiting destinations outside of the city (excluding Oakland and Berkeley, which is served by BART) or parts of the city less frequently served by MUNI. The greatest hazard of driving is on Lombard Street between Hyde and Leavenworth, where a stretch known as “The Crookedest Street in the World” runs one-way down a steep hill making eight hairpin turns. Oversized vehicles such as pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles, and recreational vehicles should NOT attempt to pass through the winding stretch of Lombard Street. Driving and parking tend to be easier in the Western portion of the city, especially in the more suburban Sunset District and surrounding areas.

The most difficult problem with your car in San Francisco will be parking. Parking throughout the city is extremely scarce. Garages, where they are available, are quite expensive ($20-30/day downtown), and downtown street parking is often metered. San Francisco has some of the strictest parking laws and enforcement in the country. For more information, see SFMTA’s parking information page. For day trips into the city, consider a park-and-ride at a Peninsula Caltrain station, at a Peninsula BART station, or at an East Bay BART station.

When parking on a hill (and there are many of them in San Francisco), remember to always apply that parking brake and turn your wheels so that the tires are against the curb (Facing uphill, the front wheels should be turned out until the tires are resting against the curb. Facing downhill, the front wheels should be turned in so that they are set against the curb). Failure to park properly doesn’t just run the risk of having your car roll downhill, but it is also against the law and you may be ticketed.

Motorcycles and Scooters are a common sight on San Francisco streets; in fact, San Francisco is known as one of the most motorcycle-friendly places in the US. Street parking for motorcycles is plentiful and relatively inexpensive ($0.40 to $0.70 an hour), but note that parking on sidewalks is usually illegal. There are several motorcycle rental shops like Dubbelju Motorcycle Rentals, along with many dealers, service shops, and motorcyclist hangouts. As elsewhere in California, motorcyclists must wear helmets. Motorcycle theft is a problem; always use a disk lock or secure your bike to a stationary object using a cable or chain.

Segways, though more novel, are fairly common in San Francisco. So far there is only one authorized Segway dealer that rents out Segways, though various tour operators (many of whom operate from Fisherman’s Wharf) offer guided trips throughout the city.

Ride Share Programs

Ride Sharing is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to taxi cab services in San Francisco, offering an arguably friendlier and more reliable service at a cheaper price. Programs including Lyft, Sidecar, Uber and Carmainvolve downloading their mobile application to request a ride. Programs such as Sidecar, Lyft, and Uber’s “UberX” utilize local drivers, and Uber also offers a more up-scale service, providing town cars and luxury SUVs at a premium price. The local drivers whom drive for Sidecar, Lyft, etc. usually do not have a taxi license. They are residents who own cars and are looking for an extra income on the side. But be assured, each driver in the ride share programs go through background checks and are tracked via GPS during your ride. Driver photos and their cars are displayed to the rider before pick up to ensure rider safety.

To request ride, the ride share programs usually requires the rider to download their mobile application and create an account and store credit card information. When requesting a ride, the rider enters their pick-up location, and drop-off location. When a driver confirms your ride request, a GPS map will track the driver’s location, ETA, as well as show a picture of the driver and their car.

All forms of payment are done through the mobile application, so there is no need to carry cash. Carma has a fixed $0.20 per mile but drivers can choose to give free rides. Lyft is a fixed $2.50 pickup fee, $1.00 trust and safety fee, $1.90 per mile and $0.40 per minute of waiting in traffic. UberX has a $3.00 base fare, $1.40 per mile and $0.30 per minute waiting in traffic.

See


San Francisco has much to see — these are just the most significant sights. For more detail see the individual district sections, often linked from this entry.

Two passes are available which offer discounts to many interesting attractions:

  • San Francisco CityPASS . A relatively cheap and easy way to cover many attractions of the city is the CityPASS. For a fare of $89 for adults and $66 for children 5-12, you get admission to the California Academy of Sciences, a Blue and Gold Fleet bay cruise, the Aquarium of the Bay, and the Exploratorium or the Legion of Honor and the de Young Museum (both must be visited on the same day). A CityPASS works for 9 consecutive days starting with the use of your first ticket (each ticket only accounts for one visit to each attraction). The pass also includes three consecutive days of Cable Car and MUNI fares.
  • Go San Francisco Card – An all-inclusive pass that lets you visit multiple San Francisco attractions for one price, starting at $65. You can save up to 55% on top museums, tours, and activities vs. paying at the gate. The pass is available in 1, 2, 3, or 5 day increments, and includes admission to dozens of top San Francisco attractions including a Hop-On/Hop-Off Trolley Tour, the California Academy of Sciences, a Golden Gate Bay Cruise, and many more.
  • Aerial tour if you are adventurous, you can see San Francisco from the air. There is a new modern power gilder at Palo Alto airport about 25minute south of San Francisco. You can see Stanford, get an idea of how long SLAC is, and be exposed to some of the most beautiful natural vistas. Check out power glider tours at palo alto airport http://www.powerglidertours.com

The city is strongly associated with the Beat Generation literary movement, notable for authors like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. City Lights Bookstore and the Beat Museum make for excellent places to learn about the Beats, but there are many other bars, cafes, and apartments where Beat history was made.

Itineraries

There are many highlight walks you can take to really capture the feel of the city and see a whole lot of attractions at the same time. Some of the best ones are:

  • Chinatown. Grant from Bush to Broadway takes you through the heart of the famous district. Returning by the parallel Stockton or Powell will give you a better feeling of the day to day life of the residents, and are both good for those looking for imported commodities such as tea or herbs.
  • Ocean Beach. Ocean Beach is entirely open to pedestrians in both the Richmond and Sunset districts from the Cliff House restaurant and Sutro Baths in the north to the zoo in the south. For a shorter walk, the windmills near Lincoln at the end of Golden Gate Park offer a good base for a stroll north.
  • Telegraph Hill. Greenwich and Filbert Steps on the east side of Telegraph Hill, both strenuous and unforgettably beautiful, offer cottages and a flock of wild parrots to enjoy on the way up to the Coit Tower.
  • North Beach. Columbus runs from North Point in Fisherman’s Wharf, through the grand church and famous cafés at the heart of North Beach to the landmark Transamerica pyramid, accessible to transit on nearby Market.
  • Haight Ashbury. Haight from Divisadero to Stanyan covers the shopping district famous for hippie culture; at Stanyan the street becomes a path through Golden Gate Park to a popular site (then and now) for relaxing and concerts.
    Cow Hollow. Union Street between Gough and Fillmore is one of the finest shopping streets outside of the city center.
  • Mission. Mission between 15th and Cesar Chavez streets provides a look at a neighborhood famous for its murals, Latino food and culture, as well as occasional gang activity east of Mission Street. Parallel to Mission, Valencia Street is the artery of the many higher end boutiques and offbeat cafés starting to characterize the neighborhood, and has little of the grit of Mission St. 16th Street between Mission and Guerrero Streets offers a diversity of cuisine and several hip bars.
  • Pacific Heights. Fillmore between Pine and Broadway is lined with a good mix of shopping, views, steep slopes, and some of the city’s largest and most expensive homes.
  • Fillmore. Post from Laguna (near 38 bus stop) to Fillmore takes you through upscale shopping and restaurants in Japantown, and turning left onto Fillmore across Geary and on to Turk takes you past the internationally known jazz venues and a mix of Black and Korean owned shops.
  • Castro and Noe Valley. Market from Church to Castro St. and a left down Castro St to 19th takes you through the center of the city’s famous gay mecca. Continuing up Castro St over the hill from there takes you to 24th St, the main drag of bohemian Noe Valley.

Landmarks

Perhaps the most recognizable landmark in San Francisco and one of the most famous bridges in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge, spanning the Golden Gate, has been called one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and is the first thing you see of San Francisco if driving in from the north, as it is one of the major road routes into and out of the city. Overlooking the Golden Gate is the Presidio, a former military post with beautiful architecture and a very scenic park setting. Within the Presidio is the gorgeous Palace of Fine Arts, built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition and reminiscent of Roman and Greek architecture.

Within the center of the city, the famous cable cars run up and down the hills of San Francisco between Market Street and Fisherman’s Wharf and offer quite a ride (see above under Get around for more info). Atop one of those hills, Telegraph Hill in North Beach, is Coit Tower, a gleaming white tower dedicated to the San Francisco firefighters. At 275′ high, the hill is a healthy hike from the nearby neighborhoods just below. Another prominent tower nearby is the Transamerica Pyramid, the tallest and most recognizable building in the San Francisco skyline, located among the skyscrapers and highrises of the Financial District. Perhaps the most famous view of that skyline is from Alamo Square Park in the Western Addition district, home to the famous Painted Ladies row of Victorian houses, with many other pretty Victorians encircling the lovely park.

Over on Russian Hill is the famous stretch of Lombard Street between Hyde & Leavenworth, the (nearly) crookedest street in America. The city also has a twistier but less scenic stretch of street, Vermont Street on Potrero Hill. Other street oddities in San Francisco include 22nd Street between Vicksburg and Church in Noe Valley and Filbert Street between Leavenworth and Hyde on Russian Hill — At a 31.5% grade, these streets share the honor of the steepest streets in San Francisco.

Neighborhoods

San Francisco is also well-known for its collection of unique and intriguing neighborhoods. Most tourists start with Fisherman’s Wharf; although many of the locals consider it a tourist trap, it is a great place to see amazing street entertainers, watch sea lions, visit museums, or take a cruise to the infamous Alcatraz Prison or the pleasant Angel Island. Working fishing boats still come into the small harbor here, and the district is home to several excellent seafood restaurants. The fresh breeze from the bay can provide a bracing setting.

The Downtown area around Union Square-Financial District | Union Square, is the heart of the city’s main shopping and hotel district. Many other interesting areas are in walking distance or a short Muni ride from there.

Chinatown, just north-west of Downtown, centered around Grant Street from Bush to Columbus, is part tourist trap, part an exhibit of local life. Good eating places abound, and the side streets especially have stores one wouldn’t find in a mall. Stockton Street is where most locals do their shopping for groceries; be sure to sample some of the dim sum and other specialties offered in the many bustling shops. However, many local Chinese prefer to eat and shop in the new Chinatowns located in other neighborhoods such as on Clement Street between 2nd and 12th Avenues in the Inner Richmond neighborhood. The Muni #1 (California) and #2 (Clement, does not run at night) buses get people from one Chinatown to the other.

South of Downtown is the Civic Center, with its impressive Beaux Arts buildings including City Hall and the War Memorial Veterans Building, the celebrated Asian Art Museum, music and theater venues (including large concert halls and a renowned Symphony and Opera), and the main public library.

The SoMa, across Market and Mission streets from Downtown to the south-east is rapidly gentrifying. Ii is the loaction of the city’s main convention center and several new museums.

Further south is the Mission District, home to the Mission Dolores Church, one of the oldest structures in the city, and a fantastic collection of murals of all sorts on the walls of many nearby buildings, especially on alleys between Market and Valencia. BART and the Mission street #14 bus go there.

At the southern end of Market Street is the Castro, the center of San Francisco’s Lesbian/Gay/Bi/Transgender (LGBT) community, with numerous theaters, small shops and restaurants. The Muni historic F-line is the best way to go there, although most underground Muni-trains stop there as well.

Further west is Haight Ashbury, famous for being a center of the Hippie movement in the 60s and 70s. While tourism has softened the image of the neighborhood somewhat, the area still retains its distinct feel with small organic coffee shops and store after store selling marijuana-themed goods, tie dye tee shirts and hand bands. The Muni Judah N-line and the Parnassus #6 bus from market street go there.

Treasure Island, an artificial island half-way between San Francisco and Oakland connected to the Bay Bridge, has excellent views of the San Francisco and Oakland skylines and quirky structures from the international fairground-turned-navy base-turned-neighborhood. Accessible by Muni bus #108 from the Transbay Terminal in SoMa.

Museums

When the morning is foggy, you may want to spend a few hours in one of the city’s many world-class museums. Golden Gate Park is home to the copper-clad M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, which houses an impressive collection of contemporary and indigenous art. The de Young Museum’s former Asian collection is now permanently housed in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, located in the Civic Center. Across from the de Young Museum stands the California Academy of Sciences, which holds a huge array of science exhibits, including an aquarium and a natural history museum.

The California Palace of the Legion of Honor is in Lincoln Park in the northwest corner of the Richmond district. In Nob Hill, the Cable Car Museum offers exhibits on the famous moving landmarks of San Francisco. Near the Castro is the Randall Museum, a lovely little children’s museum. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Moscone Center, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Zeum, the Cartoon Art Museum, the Museum of the African Diaspora and the Museum of Craft and Folk Art are all located in SoMa, south of Union Square. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, which was designed by Daniel Libeskind and opened in June 2008, is the latest major addition to San Francisco’s museum scene.

At the Hyde Street Pier in Fisherman’s Wharf you can go on board several historical ships, including the 1886 Balclutha clipper ship, a walking-beam ferry, a steam tug, and a coastal schooner. At Pier 45 just to the east, the World War II submarine USS Pampanito and the World War II Liberty Ship SS Jeremiah O’Brien can be visited. Nearby is the Aquarium of the Bay on Pier 39 and the newly opened Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. The Musee Mecanique on pier 45 contains hundreds of coin operated amusement machines, many from the 19th century. Most can be used for just a quarter.

The newly relocated and bigger and better than ever Exploratorium on Pier 15 is walking distance from Embarcadero and will keep you busy for an entire day with their science and perception exhibits. In the Marina district is Fort Mason, home to a few cultural museums.

Many museums offer free admission on certain days during the first week of every month.

Parks and Outdoors

San Francisco has numerous parks, ranging from the tiny to the huge. The most famous of them is Golden Gate Park in The Avenues district, a massive (roughly 1/2 mile-by-four mile) urban oasis with windmills, bison, museums, a carousel and much more hidden among its charms. The park contains the antique palatial greenhouse of the Conservatory of Flowers, the modern and ethnic art focused de Young Museum, the large Japanese Tea Garden, the new California Academy of Sciences building designed by Renzo Piano and the Strybing Arboretum, a collection of plants from across the temperate world. Defining the extreme Northwestern corner of the city is Lincoln Park in Richmond, which provides majestic views of the Marin Headlands, the Golden Gate Bridge from the ocean side, and the Pacific Ocean itself. At the extreme western end the well known Cliff House provides both semi-casual and a more formal eating and drinking place. The Legion of Honor museum at the center of the park houses many incredible artworks.

Near the physical center of the city is the Twin Peaks, one of San Francisco’s highest points (875′ above sea level); providing spectacular views in all directions. Tour buses can get backed up here during the day, but it’s a great place to really appreciate the city from above, especially at and after sunset. Temperatures up there can be quite a bit lower than in the rest of the city, so bring a jacket. Nearby in the Lake Merced area is the San Francisco Zoo, a large and well maintained zoo which is a great place to go if you are traveling with children or have a fondness for penguins, primates, lions or llamas.

While not particularly well known for its beaches, San Francisco has a couple of good ones along the Pacific Ocean — but the water is brisk, the winds can be rough, and due to strong rip currents swimming at any of them is not recommended. Ocean Beach along the Sunset district is the largest and most famous beach, with plenty of sand and people enjoying themselves. China Beach in Richmond and Baker Beach in Golden Gate are smaller, rather secluded beaches with lovely views.

On sunny days hipsters flock to Mission Dolores Park, so named due to its location across the street from the Mission Dolores Basilica. The park often comes to resemble a large party, with music, coolers of beer and, er, uh…medical marijuana treatment. Mission Dolores Park is situated on a slight slope in the Noe Valley neighborhood, just a few blocks from the many restaurants and bars in the Mission. The east side of the park is bounded by Dolores Street, a hilly and scenic drive lined with palm trees and Victorians. During the fire of 1906 that destroyed much of the city, one of the few working fire hydrants was located near the Southwest corner of the park. This fire hydrant provided water that helped stop the fire. The fire hydrant is still functioning and is repainted gold once a year on the anniversary of the 1906 earthquake.

In the southern half of the city is the often overlooked but wonderful Bernal Heights Park, a small park on top of a hill overlooking the entire eastern half of the city, with excellent views of the skyscrapers in the Financial District, the Mission District, and the hills in the southeastern corner of the city. A wide trail runs around the base of the park below the peak which can be walked in ten to fifteen minutes. Bernal Heights Park is dog friendly, so much so that a coyote is often observed there.

Do


Harbor Tours

One of the best ways to see San Francisco is from the waters of San Francisco Bay. There are many companies offering harbor tours of varying durations and prices but they all provide marvelous views of the bay, the bridges, the island of Alcatraz, Angel Island and the city.

Only specific island tours are allowed to land at Alcatraz, but the typical harbor tour will circle the island at a slow crawl, giving you plenty of opportunity to photograph the now-inactive prison from the water.

Also consider taking a ferry from San Francisco across the bay to Tiburon, Sausalito, or Alameda. Same views for a fraction of the price.

Most tours leave from docks at Fisherman’s Wharf near Pier 39 (Pier 33 for Alcatraz). Tickets can be purchased at kiosks along the waterfront walk. Buy tickets a day or two in advance during the summer high season. For Alcatraz island tour, you may need to book weeks in advance (but you can also buy waitlist tickets – if there’s spaces left you get on, if not you get a full refund). It’s well worth it though – you get an extensive audio tour of the prison, with stories of various escape attempts.

Boats usually leave roughly hourly starting around 10am and ending around 5pm. Multi-lingual guides are available on some tours. Prices range from $20-$40, more for sunset, dinner, or whale watching tours.

  • Even on a sunny day the bay can be chilly, so be sure to bring a sweater as well as sun screen.
  • Some boats have snack bars on board, but bring your own water and treats to avoid paying high costs or going without. There are now limited refreshments and a souvenirs shop on Alcatraz.

Performing Arts

The diversity of options to enjoy music and theater is huge. An excellent source for finding current offerings is the edited San Francisco Classical Voice, in addition to specific venues listed here. Concerts by small groups, classical to modern, and often free are listed at the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music page. The SF Classical Music Examiner provides insightful reviews and previews.

  • San Francisco has a Half-Price Ticket Booth located right in the middle of Union Square, where tickets for most San Francisco theatre performances can be purchased the day of the performance for half-price. Run by Theatre Bay Area, the income from all service fees collected from the sale of tickets by TIX Bay Area goes right back into the theatre community.Go to a concert. There are performances most days to choose from by the San Francisco Opera, the San Francisco Symphony, in the Old First Church. Last minute tickets are often available at the door. Symphony tickets have a wide price range, Terrace seats are often less than $20. There are recitals most days, as well as occasional major performances, at the San Francisco Conservatory nearby . All these venues are located in or near the Civic Center. The museum of the Legion of Honor, located in Lincoln Park overlooking the Golden Gate (north end of 34th Ave), has organ concerts which can be heard in many of its galleries, Saturdays and Sundays at 4pm, as well as music performances in its Florence Gould Theater by the San Francisco Lyric Opera. Around the holidays many churches will have performances and sing-alongs of seasonal music. The classical Herbst Theater (where the UN charter was signed) is temporarily closed for earthquake and major interior updates.
  • Musicals from Broadway and Los Angeles are shown at the traditional Golden Gate and Orpheum theaters on Market, near the Civic Center. For outrageous fun, princes and paupers go to Beach Blanket Babylon in North Beach. Teenagers are welcome at the Sunday matinees. It considers itself the longest running musical revue in theater history
  • For jazz, rock, or folk music the choices are diverse. A new, attractive venue with a wide variety of offerings is SFJAZZ , a few blocks from the Civic Center. There are performances most days, popular artists often sell out early. San Francisco also has many jazz clubs, best found by browsing the web (an excellent site is SFStation.com ). Contemporary bands are featured at The Fillmore Auditorium and less frequently at the large Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in the Civic Center. There is an annual blues festival in late September, at various locations , and at least two great bluegrass music festivals each year — during February around the area and late September or October in Golden Gate Park. Many, but certainly not all, events are listed by the City Box Office
  • Ballet of the world class variety is performed in the Spring by the San Francisco Ballet at the War Memorial Opera House in Civic Center. Standing room tickets, with excellent views from the back of the orchestra section, are available for only $10 during the afternoon of each performance as well as two hours before showtime. In winter, the popular The Nutcracker is performed; those tickets often sell out early.
  • Plays are performed at the Geary (by the American Conservatory Theater), Curran, Marines Memorial theatre and San Francisco Playhouse near Union Square, and at the small New Conservatory Theatre Center near the Civic Center.
  • Silent, rare, and classical movies are frequently shown, accompanied by a live organist, and sometimes a band, in the classical 1930’s Castro Theater just off Market street in the Castro district. Tickets are available on-line or on the day of the performance. Popular features may sell out early. The Castro theater is also a venue for various film festivals. The Opera Plaza Cinema often shows rare classical and foreign movies in its cozy theaters. Opera Plaza is located just a few blocks up van Ness Avenue from the Opera and Symphony. The San Francisco Symphony shows movies in its large auditorium, accompanied by its orchestra, several times a year. Both silent movies and movies with intense musical contents, as Walt Disney’s Fantasia, are presented. They are a great way to introduce kids to classical music.

Events

There is an incredible array of events going on in San Francisco — virtually every day there will be something of interest to anyone going on, and San Francisco’s mild climate ensures that practically every weekend will bring another major festival or some sort of large event. Listed here are just some of the really big events going on:

Cultural Events

  • Cherry Blossom Festival, Western Addition, April. In Japantown, this kid-friendly event includes a parade, a street fair, and music.
  • Fringe Festival, taking place at various theaters in the Civic Center-Tenderloin area, Just after Labor Day. A 10 day festival about theatrical experimentation and having fun, even if you don’t know what you’re doing exactly.
  • Haight Ashbury Street Fair, Haight, On the second Sunday of June, people pack the Upper Haight for this event featuring local bands, food stalls and plenty of shopping.
  • San Francisco International Film Festival, based at the Presidio in Golden Gate, but smaller events take place throughout the city, Two weeks in Apr/May. Organized by the San Francisco Film Society who are based in the Presidio, but the arthouse movies, documentaries, and short films are shown throughout the city.
  • Tet Festival, Civic Center-Tenderloin area, Mid-January to mid-February. Celebrate New Year’s Vietnamese style at this festival. It’s a great opportunity to sample some of the delicious Vietnamese dishes that they have in the area.
  • Union Street Art Festival, Golden Gate, First weekend in June. This festival attracts many local artists who line the streets displaying their arts and crafts, along with live jazz and classical music performances and an organic farmer’s market.

Holidays

  • Chinese New Year Festivities, Chinatown, January or February. The San Francisco version of the Chinese New Year dates way back, with a colorful, vibrant parade with decorative costumes, lions, deafening firecrackers, “lucky-money” envelopes, colorful banners, ornately themed floats, martial arts groups, stilt walkers, acrobats, and, of course, a 200 foot Golden Dragon.
  • Columbus Day Parade, North Beach, This hugely popular parade celebrates Christopher Columbus and Italian heritage. Handmade floats run all the way from
  • Fisherman’s Wharf up Columbus Avenue through North Beach.
    Easter Parade and Spring Celebration, Union Street in Golden Gate. The kid-friendly but diverse festivities include a petting zoo, pony rides, live music, train rides, alfresco dining, and a parade.
  • Fourth of July. San Francisco’s main Independence Day celebrations take place on Fisherman’s Wharf. There is lots of free entertainment during the day, culminating with an impressive fireworks display from the foot of Municipal Pier, and at the other end of the Wharf from barges moored off the north of PIER 39.
  • Tree Lighting Ceremony at Ghirardelli Square, Ghirardelli Square, Fishermans’ Wharf. End of November. Ring in the holiday season by attending the festivities at Ghirardelli Square. There’s theater, live music, and then at the end they decorate a 45 foot Christmas tree with ornaments, lights, and chocolate bars.

LGBT Community Events

San Francisco is famous for its exuberant and visible lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, who always put together some very festive events:

  • Halloween in the Castro. Halloween, the holiday when everyone puts on a mask, has long been a special time for gay, lesbian and bisexual people to take off the “straight-looking mask” they sometimes wore all year, and be themselves. What remains today is a huge, sometimes poorly controlled, street party in the Castro on the evening of October 31st each year. In recent years, the police have cracked down, and it has been much diminished.
  • Pink Saturday is a street party in the Castro on the Saturday night before the Pride Parade and Celebration.
  • Folsom Street Fair is a street fair, generally the last Sunday in September. One of the largest leather / kink events in the world, attracting a wide range of straight, gay, and queer attendees.
  • The San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Parade and Celebration is one of the largest gay pride parades and festivals in North America, centered in the Civic Center area. It’s a huge, happy, chaotic celebration of diversity, politics, sexuality, and San Francisco wackiness, on the last weekend in June. About a dozen stages and spaces offer everything from square dancing to hip-hop, from a family garden to Leather Alley. It’s a movement, it’s a market, it’s a party. Both parade and celebration are for everyone — straight as well as gay are welcome.

Outdoor and Recreational Events

  • Bay to Breakers, Third Sunday in May. An annual footrace that is one of the largest in the country. The route runs from Downtown to Ocean Beach. Many runners do the whole thing in costume, wearing anything from elaborate costumes to wearing almost nothing at all, lending a party atmosphere to the event.
  • Critical Mass. On the last Friday of each month, bicyclists in San Francisco (and about 200 like-minded cities world-wide) gather at the north end of Market Street on the Embarcadero and ride en masse to some destination, militantly demonstrating their right to occupy the roads. If you are driving in SF on a Critical Mass day, you will want to listen for radio traffic reports, but if you are stopped by the mass the best thing to do is maintain a good sense of humor and remember that it will all pass in about 5 minutes. Although, tempers can and do flare, and there have been cases where run ins with drivers and bicyclists have gotten violent. If your car is surrounded by bikes, definitely do not move until they have passed or they might feel threatened.
  • Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, Second Sunday in June. Participants (which often include world champions and Olympic medalists) swim 1.5 miles through chilly waters, bike 18 miles, and then run an extra 8 miles. The course winds its way throughout the city, but the transition and finish line is at Marina Green in the Golden Gate area.
  • Fleet Week, Fisherman’s Wharf, Usually held in the first week of October, it’s a tribute to the men and women in the armed forces. A flotilla of Navy ships dock on the Wharf in parade fashion, and there are many free Deck tours available from crew members. There are also several air displays by the Navy flyers.
  • Sunday Streets, Sundays in the Summer, various locations. See the website for where and when Sunday Streets is happening and head out for some good times with other walkers, bicyclists, skateboarders, roller skaters, etc. The cars are kicked off of the streets for some hours allowing the neighborhoods to come alive. There are food vendors, bike workshops, music performances, and all kinds of other great events. Sunday Streets is modeled after Bogotá’s Ciclovia.

Sports

San Francisco has several professional sports teams, although the spread-out nature of the Bay Area means there are also teams nearby in San Jose and Oakland.

The San Francisco Giants are the city’s Major League Baseball team, playing their home games at the lovely AT&T Park in SoMa. The other major league team in San Francisco is the San Francisco 49ers, the city’s National Football League team, who used to play their games at Candlestick Park on Candlestick Point in Southeast San Francisco. The 49ers have now relocated to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Both teams command huge fan bases.

As far as college sports go in San Francisco, there are the University of San Francisco Dons, who play various college sports including baseball, basketball, soccer and volleyball at their campus in Western Addition. The San Francisco State University Gators play various college sports including baseball, basketball and soccer at their campus near Lake Merced.

Local Music

San Francisco is a hotbed for underground music; a highly diverse array of musical styles is represented (e.g., rock, pop, experimental, weird folk, and avant-jazz). Shows occur every night, with as many as fifteen small shows occurring each Thursday through Saturday night. Much of this activity is not always well covered in the mainstream media; useful community-driven resources for finding about local shows include Dar Dar Dar and the Transbay Calendar. For major and regular events, see the section on Performing Arts above.

Meet and Greet Locals

For those who want to meet actual San Franciscans in addition to exploring major landmarks, in 2010 a group of locals started a new service, “See San Francisco with a local”. You join 90-minute walks, The local guides show you city landmarks (and the stories and anecdotes that go with them), but they also engage their visitors on life in SF. You chat with a local, you “decode” the city, and you learn from an insider about local events and festivals, about where to shop, good places to eat or drink, secret places locals keep to themselves etc.

  • Discover Walks, 2454 Chestnut St ☎ +1 415 494 9255, . Several tours to choose from everyday. Free service – guests choose their tip/donation.
  • KitTea Cat Cafe, 96 Gough Street, San Francisco, CA 94102, ☎ 4156587888, KitTea Cat Cafe is San Francisco’s first and only cat cafe located in Hayes Valley. This cafe offers a unique experience to travelers, especially to animal lovers who are missing their own pets while visiting San Francisco. This cafe works as a foster space for cats, so visiting the cat lounge is an adorable and cuddly way for visitors to the city to help support adoptable cats in the community. edit

Free Walking Tours of San Francisco

City Guides are local volunteers who love the City, its history, lore and legends…and they’re ready to share it all with you. The regularly scheduled tours are free and open to the public, except for groups of 8 or more. No need to make a reservation, just show up at the time and place indicated on their schedule; groups of 8 or more are asked to schedule a special tour several weeks in advance. The tours are fun and informative, with a combination of tried-and-true San Francisco landmarks and off-the-beaten path sites. Donations are welcome!

  • San Francisco City Guides, c/o SF Public Library, 100 Larkin St ☎ +1 415 557 4266. The list of tours, schedule, and FAQs can be found at their website.
  • Free Tours by Foot, ☎ +1 415 295 2207. The list of tours, schedule, and FAQs can be found at their website.

Beers and Bike in San Francisco

Visit San Francisco by bike with Gears and Grapes while stopping in three of the finest beer drinking establishments of the city. Enjoy beers while learning about the cultural history of San Francisco from a local tour guide who will take you away from the tourist crowds to discover places cherished by locals. Tours operate from Monday to Friday and start at 2pm, departure from the office in Chinatown.

  • Gears and Grapes, 714 Commercial St ☎ +1 (415) 484-1238.

Learn


Work


While San Franciso’s economy is linked to it being a world-class tourist attraction, its economy is diversified. The largest employment sectors are professional services, government, finance, trade, and tourism. Its frequent portrayal in music, films, literature and popular culture has helped make the city and its landmarks known throughout the world. San Francisco has developed a large tourist infrastructure with numerous hotels, restaurants, and top-notch convention facilities.

While it’s been a long time since people considered Montgomery Street in the Financial District to be the “Wall Street of the West”, San Francisco remains one of the principal banking and finance centers of the west coast of the United States. Many major financial institutions and banks are based in the city or have set up regional headquarters here.

San Francisco’s proximity to Silicon Valley has made the city increasingly attractive for high-tech companies. In recent years, San Francisco has also been making itself a center of biotechnology.

Buy


Individual listings can be found in San Francisco’s district articles
If you want it, chances are likely you can get it in San Francisco. There are a wide range of small and locally owned businesses throughout the city’s neighborhoods; in fact, San Francisco has for the most part repelled the development of large chain retailers and big box stores that are common across America.

If it’s tourist trinkets you’re looking for, Fisherman’s Wharf has the typical souvenir, T-shirt, and camera shops, along with plenty of specialty stores. However, San Francisco’s most popular shopping area is Union Square, which has all the big national department stores (Macy’s, Saks, Nordstrom, etc.) and plenty of fancy boutique stores, as well as a few shopping centers thrown in.

For small, upscale boutiques, Union Street, Hayes Street around Octavia, Fillmore Street around California street, and Chestnut Street in the Golden Gate area are lined with unique and trendy places, and all these streets are among the best spots in the city to window shop and nash. Nob Hill is also full of specialty places.

But if you don’t have a luxury dollar to spend and still want to walk away with something unique, there are plenty of shops in Chinatown for you, selling Oriental handicrafts of all descriptions, and no chain stores in sight. Japantown also offers plenty of great shops selling authentic souvenirs, including the excellent Kinokuniya Stationery/Bookstore. The Haight is full of excellent independent record and book stores, with Amoeba Music dominating the scene.

For basic supplies, try the ubiquitous 7-Eleven convenience stores and Walgreens pharmacies. If you need groceries, Safeway is the dominant supermarket chain in the city. There are Safeway stores in SoMa, near Fisherman’s Wharf, and near the Financial District, but not near Union Square. The closest supermarket to Union Square is the upscale Bristol Farms supermarket at Westfield San Francisco Shopping Centre.

Eat


San Francisco is a sensual, epicurean city with a vast array of restaurants. In fact, San Francisco has more restaurants per capita than any major city in North America, with 1 restaurant for every 250 residents (in comparison, New York City has 1 restaurant for every 940 residents). The price range is huge, and you can spend anywhere from a small fortune to a couple bucks for every type of cuisine. Vegetarians and vegans will find SF a paradise, however contrary to popular belief the city has one of the lowest rates of vegetarian consumers in the nation. Sushi is a local obsession, and though you can find a sushi bar on almost every street corner, the Richmond district has more than its fair share of excellent sushi chefs.

San Francisco is also one of the best places in the nation for Asian cuisine: Korean, Thai, Indian, Burmese, Japanese and, of course, Chinese. With the largest Chinatown in North America as well as one of the largest Chinese communities in the West, there are many exceptional restaurants serving dim sum and other Chinese delicacies found throughout the city. This localized Chinese cuisine has its feet in Hong Kong and America, and is different from what many visitors are accustomed to — it is common to hear complaints from Chinese visitors that Chinese food here is not like the food back home. There are several main types of Chinese restaurants in San Francisco: those primarily serving immigrants from Hong Kong (“Hong Kong style”) which commonly have signs on the wall in Chinese characters, live fish and shellfish tanks and some exotic main ingredients, such as pig’s blood or sea cucumber; those primarily serving San Franciscans who are not Asian immigrants (“California Chinese”) which commonly have Westernized table service, low fat content and more emphasis on fresh vegetables; those primarily serving tourists or other people accustomed to Chinese food as it is commonly served in the United States (“Americanized Chinese”); and those primarily serving immigrants from other areas or a particular dietary need or interest (regional cuisines, vegetarian, Muslim). There may be some mixing between these various classifications and each category may influence the others, for instance, the Americanized dish known as Chop Suey is often not served even at Americanized Chinese restaurants in San Francisco, while Chinese vegetables such as bok choy and pea sprouts may turn up on your plate at California Cuisine style restaurants.

Fisherman’s Wharf serves fresh seafood, especially clam chowder and crabs cooked to order. North Beach is the place to go for Italian food, and the Mission (birth place of the mission style burrito) for Mexican and Latin American cuisine of all sorts. San Francisco restaurants are also very corkage friendly. Average corkage fee appears to be in the $15 range, with some of the more pricey places charging $25-35.

Drink


The best way to find a good bar or club is to ask the advice of a local; but barring that a copy of The SF Bay Guardian or the SF Weekly will help you find something suited to your personal taste.

San Francisco is very much of a “scene” town, with a varying range of categorical experiences. If you want door-to-door bar hopping at friendly bars that serve PBR tall boys, definitely go to “Polk Gulch” in the Tenderloin and work your way up through bars such as Mayes, The Playground, and Hemlock.

Head to the Marina for mid-20s to mid-30s professionals (and those visiting from Los Angeles) as well as a college atmosphere clubbing scene around super packed club/bars such as Circa and Matrix 24/7. If you want to commit to a single venue for the night and club the night away, pay the necessary cover at high end clubs in South of Market (SoMa) such as The Grand, Manor West, and 330 Ritch, where you can find left-over dot-commers and hipsters hanging out on the street. If you’re in the mood for world class clubbing, Ruby Skye is a must visit place; the SF equivalent of a Vegas club, but be prepared to buy tickets ahead of time and wait in line.

If you are specifically searching for underground Techno, House, or other electronic music club culture your best bet is to peruse the local papers; however be mindful that the most likely venues to host such types of underground music are usually Beatbox, 222 Hyde, Public Works (Function One Sound), The End Up (a San Francisco institution since the Disco days), The Mezzanine, and Monarch (custom installed Void Sound). San Francisco has some of the most high end soundsystems in it’s clubs than almost anywhere in the Country, be sure to experience one of the systems at the aforementioned locations.

Haight-Ashbury, famous for the “Summer of Love” and hippies, is still a place for alternative lifestyle and now has many neo-punks and hipsters in the mix. The Castro primarily serves San Francisco’s gay men, with The Lexingtonhttp://lexingtonclub.com/ and Wild Side Westhttp://www.wildsidewest.com/ in the Mission District serving a lesbian scene. Other spots in the Mission also offers a more down to earth vibe that still lets you get your dance on in spots like Brunos and Medjools; a bonus with this is that you can end the night with a great burrito from one of the local Mission taquerias.

With a large Irish population, San Francisco has a number of very good Irish pubs extending out into the Sunset neighborhood. North Beach is home to several dance clubs and strip clubs.

If you like soccer (football) and all things English, you should stop into the Kezar Pub, at the edge of the Haight-Ashbury District, or Lower Haight’s Mad Dog In the Fog. The pub quiz and bar food are good. Swill some pints and stay in the dark. Good for an entire day’s worth of drinking.

Beer

San Francisco, despite being much smaller than New York City, sports more microbreweries. Anchor Brewing Company (makers of Anchor Steam, found throughout the US) is brewed on Potrero Hill, though it is generally not open to the public (tours are available Friday afternoons by reservation). Similarly, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers opens its doors on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons, though its location in Hunter’s Point makes it a long Muni ride if you’re traveling without a car. The other microbreweries are housed in brewpubs:

  • Beach Chalet & Park Chalet are at the Pacific end of Golden Gate Park, where you can enjoy a view of the ocean or sit in the lawn area.
  • Pizza Orgasmica in the Richmond District specializes in California-style pizza.
    Magnolia Brewing Company is in the heart of the Haight, and operates a second restaurant down the street, The Alembic.
  • Thirsty Bear in SoMa caters mostly to the happy hour crowd.
  • 21st Amendment, also in SoMa, is three blocks away from the Giants’ home at AT&T Park.
  • Social Kitchen & Brewery is the newest brewpub, in the Sunset District, a block from Golden Gate Park.
  • Comstock Saloon, opened since 1907 in North Beach’s old Barbary Coast at the SW corner of Columbus and Pacific, is San Francisco’s second oldest bar; formerly the oldest microbrewery in San Francisco, it was known as The San Francisco Brewing Company
  • The Saloon, opened in 1861 at the corner of Fresno and Grant in North Beach, is San Francisco’s oldest bar and the only bar to survive the 1906 Earthquake and fire

Other destinations for beer drinkers include the Gordon Biersch alehouse on the Embarcadero in SoMa, the City Beer Store and Tasting Bar on Folsom St in SoMa (your best bet for beer to go), the Mission’s Monk’s Kettle, and the famous Toronado Pub on lower Haight Street, which specializes in Belgian ales.

The surrounding Alameda, San Mateo, and Marin Counties also host many microbreweries worth trying. Many of these are accessible by BART. There are North Bay beer options as well that should not be ignored. Lagunitas Brewing Company, one of the country’s fastest growing craft breweries, is 35 minutes north of the city. Also, although Santa Rosa is 45 minutes north of San Francisco, no beer lovers should skip the renowned Russian River Brewing Company in downtown Santa Rosa.

Sleep


San Francisco offers a wide range of accommodations, from a healthy supply of hostels and budget hotels to the lavish, luxurious hotels in the city center, as well as just about everything in-between. The majority of accommodations are in the northeastern portion of the city, in and around the popular areas of Downtown, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s Wharf. As one moves into the mostly residential neighborhoods to the west, the sleeping options filter down to small inns and bed and breakfasts.

Decide if you want to be in walking distance of your destinations, or are up to driving and parking (which can be quite an undertaking in some of the busier areas of San Francisco) or taking public transit. If you have a specific destination in mind, look also in the Districts sections.

If you’d rather stay closer to the San Francisco International Airport, there are plenty of standard airport accommodations in the cities surrounding the airport — Brisbane, Burlingame, Millbrae, San Bruno and South San Francisco. From there, you can drive or take BART or Caltrain into San Francisco.

Contact


The area codes for San Francisco are 415 and 628. You must dial 1, then the 3 digit area code and the 7 digit subscriber number.

For calls within the US or Canada, dial 1, then the 3 digit area code and subscriber number.

For international calls, just replace the “+” International dialling prefix symbol of the phone number shown in international format (that’s the format we use here on Wikitravel) with the international access code of 011.

Pay phones are getting less and less commonplace as nearly everyone in San Francisco has a mobile phone. When you do find one, keep in mind that they only take coins and phone cards with a dial-to-use number. Local calls start at $0.50.

To get online, internet cafés are available at a sprinkling of city center locations. Many coffee houses and cafés also offer wireless connection for free or a small fee. Free access is available in Union Square. For a more scenic place to check your email try the Apple Store on Stockton at Ellis near Market in Union Square or any of the many public libraries, especially the main branch on Market near Civic Center station.

Additionally, those travelling with laptop computers will often find an open free signal across the city which is being deployed by a company called Meraki. The “Free the Net” signal is unlocked and free to use.

Blue mailboxes for mail such as letters and postcards are on many street corners. USPS post offices sell stamps and ship packages, and several private companies provide additional services.

Stay Safe


As with many other major cities in the world, San Francisco has its share of problems. A search for “People Behaving Badly” on YouTube will reveal local KRON 4 reporter Stanley Roberts’ varied and sometimes comical segments on aggressive panhandling, distracted drivers, fare evasion, and most famously “Elmo Shirt Guy” who became an internet-meme in his own right and was featured on Jimmy Kimmel. The good news is that as a visitor to San Francisco, though you may occasionally encounter people behaving badly, with a dash of common sense its unlikely you’ll be the target of any crime or violence.

The areas that one should be most cautious are in the neighborhoods of Bayview-Hunters Point, Visitacion Valley, Sunnydale, Ingleside, and Potrero Hill in Southeast San Francisco, as well as the Tenderloin, parts of Western Addition (including the Fillmore District), and parts of the Mission. San Francisco is still susceptible to violent crime, and most of these murders occur in the southeast, less economically fortunate, neighborhoods of the city. Gang violence touches even busy and thriving areas such as the Mission Street retail corridor, although most instances of violent crime are directed to specific targets and are not random acts. The SoMa district used to be somewhat dangerous; however, recent gentrification (something that has become fairly common and a social issue in SF) has transformed it into a rather hip and much safer neighborhood with plenty of art galleries and clubs. However, it is best to be careful even now.

San Francisco also has the largest homeless population per capita in the United States due to it’s temperate weather (they do not freeze to death as often as in Chicago or New York) and its relatively less vicious gangs (SoCal gangs are notorious for using homeless persons for target practice or gang initiations). If someone begs from you, you may either politely say you do not have any change or just keep walking, and he or she will generally leave you alone. A very small but visible percentage of the homeless may appear to be mentally ill or under the influence of drugs. This may be disturbing to some, but they will generally leave you alone if you do not interact with them. The main homeless area is around 6th and Market, heading towards the Civic Center, and in the Tenderloin. Haight Ashbury also has lots of panhandlers, and the area near Golden Gate Park at the end of Haight Street near McDonalds is notorious for junkies and should be avoided at night.

Pickpocketing, purse snatching, and other forms of petty crime are common as with any other large city. Be especially cautious on crowded Muni trains and buses, in heavily touristed areas such as Fisherman’s Wharf, and during the busy holiday shopping season.

Do not leave valuables in your vehicle, especially when parking on public streets. Car break-ins are very common in San Francisco, and any valuables in plain sight are in danger of being stolen. During your visit, you will probably see small piles of broken glass on sidewalks throughout the city, which are the result of such crimes. If you cannot carry all valuables with you, try to keep them in the trunk and park your vehicle in secure parking garages, which are slightly safer than street parking but are not completely free from crime either.

As with the rest of California, earthquakes are an omnipresent threat, and despite near constant media speculation of the elusive “big one” (the last major quake to hit the city was in 1989); the risk of a major incident remains relatively small. Minor tremors do occur in and around the city on a regular basis however, but apart from the odd broken window they are accepted as routine.

Be careful to check for ticks after hiking in fields in the Bay Area. There is a high rate of lyme disease transmission in the Bay Area. If a bulls’ eye rash develops at the tick bite site, immediately seek medical help and treatment with antibiotics.

Respect


San Francisco prides itself on its openness to diversity in race, gender, sexual orientation and personal style. This trait is widely considered to be one of the defining features of the city, and it draws both visitors and transplants alike.

Smokers beware: as in the rest of California, smoking is illegal in bars, restaurants, and other public places. Bay Area people can be particularly vocal about your personal habits. Be aware of nonsmoking areas, and try to be courteous about smoking in other places. They will probably not bother you about standing and smoking outside a restaurant or bar.

On the other hand, smoking marijuana is remarkably well-tolerated. If you are visiting from elsewhere in the U.S., you may be very surprised to find that marijuana is not considered to be a problem by San Franciscans, and even by the city’s police. While still illegal under federal law, a law was passed in 2006 officially making marijuana the lowest priority for the SFPD. This does not mean that you should smoke marijuana just anywhere — as with cigarettes, it is considered improper etiquette to smoke marijuana in crowded areas.

It’s worth mentioning that natives tend to dislike many of the nicknames given to their city. Instead of saying “San Fran” or “Frisco,” most refer to San Francisco by its full name, “SF”, or “The City.”

As is the case anywhere, when using escalators you are expected to stand on the right and use the left side for walking up or down the stairs. Standing still on the left side might annoy people.

Cope

Publications

  • San Francisco Chronicle . The main newspaper in San Francisco, with circulation daily. $0.75 daily, $2.00 Sunday.
  • San Francisco Examiner . Another daily newspaper, but this time free.
  • San Francisco Daily . Another free daily paper.
  • SF Weekly . A popular free-weekly distributed across the city.
  • San Francisco Bay Guardian . Another popular free-weekly.
  • San Francisco Bay View . Politics, economics, and news from a progressive African American perspective.
  • AsianWeek . A weekly paper, one of the largest English language publications for Asian-Americans.
  • Bay Area Reporter . Free-weekly serving the LGBT community.
  • San Francisco Bay Times . Another free-weekly LGBT newspaper.
  • San Francisco Magazine . A monthly magazine devoted to Bay Area culture.
  • MetroWize . A weekly publication dedicated to insider city and event info for San Francisco.

Consulates

Consulates

Get Out


Bikes can be rented from around the northern waterfront (Pier 41/Fisherman’s Wharf/Aquatic Park area) or near Golden Gate Park for trips to Marin County via the Golden Gate Bridge. Stanyan near Haight at the end of the park has several good shops. Golden Gate Transit also sporadically serves the North Bay from San Francisco, and has bike racks on most buses.

Nearby destinations suitable for day trips include:

  • Oakland — A diverse and vibrant city, Oakland was once considered San Francisco’s “sister city,” and has been regaining that title in recent years due to a general renaissance of the city. Although not a major tourist destination, it’s worth a visit for its many distinct and charming neighborhoods.
  • Berkeley — Home to the University of California, Berkeley and one of the nation’s most progressive communities. Also a hub of liberal political activism for the past several decades. It is also home to quite a few superb restaurants.
  • Sausalito — Enjoy a ferry ride across the bay to beautiful Sausalito where you can walk along the water and admire the San Francisco skyline. Stroll to the waterfront restaurants, shops, and galleries.
  • Healdsburg — A charming Wine Country town located among some of California’s greatest wine appellations: Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Russian River Valley and Chalk Hill. Relaxed yet sophisticated atmosphere, with excellent restaurants, shopping and wine tasting. About 70 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Napa Valley — The main wine growing region in the United States, a trip to the many wineries makes for a fun day, while those wanting a longer adventure can relax in any one of the many spas, bed and breakfasts, or other lodging options.
  • Muir Woods — A 560 acre forest of old-growth redwood trees located in Mill Valley just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods is a pleasant respite from the city, and accessible by Golden Gate Transit on summer weekends.
  • Point Reyes National Seashore — Located just north of San Francisco along the Pacific Coast Highway (State Highway 1), Point Reyes is a beautiful seashore that is particularly nice to visit when gray whales are migrating along the coast, usually best in mid-January and then from March through May.
  • Peninsula Just south of San Francisco, the peninsula has excellent nature preserves.
    • Palo Alto — On the Peninsula south of the city, Palo Alto has some of the richest neighborhoods in all of California and makes for a beautiful drive with views of the coastline and magnificent mansions. Palo Alto is also home to Stanford University, a highly ranked university that also has one of the most beautiful campuses in the world.
    • Burlingame — Another well off neighborhood on the Peninsula, Burlingame has a lovely downtown area with plenty of shops, dining and streets lined with cypress trees.
  • Monterey — An otherwise quiet beach town home to one of the country’s best aquariums.
  • Santa Cruz — Located on the coast north of Monterey Bay, this funky town is home to surfers, the beautiful and tech-savvy University of California, Santa Cruz, and a popular boardwalk. The Santa Cruz Mountains north of town are a great place for outdoor recreation such as hiking, and home to misty forests of famous, enormous redwood trees.
  • Vallejo — Home to a wildlife theme park, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.
  • Yosemite National Park — Tours from San Francisco make for a wonderful day trip, although you will spend around 10 hours travelling for less than 4 in the park.
  • Make sure to visit the amazing Giant Sequoias.
  • Lake Tahoe — Buses and one Amtrak train per day link the Bay Area to nearby Truckee, and as with Yosemite, travel even by car to and from would consume much of the day. However, the spectacular alpine setting and winter ski and snowboard options surrounding the Lake make Tahoe an unforgettable destination.
  • Livermore — A suburban city in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area. The Livermore Valley is “wine country”, and produces some of California’s best wines.

Routes through San Francisco

San Francisco Tours, Tickets, Activities & Things To Do


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San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park is located in San Francisco, California, United States. The park includes a fleet of historic vessels, a visitor center, a maritime museum, and a library/research facility. The park used to be referred to as the San Francisco Maritime Museum, however the former 1951 name changed in 1978 when the collections were acquired by the National Park Service. Today’s San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park was authorized in 1988; the maritime museum is among the park’s many cultural resources. The park also incorporates the Aquatic Park Historic District, bounded by Van Ness Avenue, Polk Street, and Hyde Street.

Contents
1 Historic vessel fleet
2 Visitor Center
3 Maritime Museum
4 Maritime Research Center
5 Supporting associations
6 Location and access
6.1 Open Water Swimming

Historic Vessel Fleet


The historic fleet of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park is moored at the park’s Hyde Street Pier. The fleet consists of the following major vessels:

  • Balclutha, an 1886 built square rigged sailing ship.
  • C.A. Thayer, an 1895 built schooner.
  • Eureka, an 1890 built steam ferryboat.
  • Alma, an 1891 built scow schooner.
  • Hercules, a 1907 built steam tug.
  • Eppleton Hall, a 1914 built paddlewheel tug.

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Scow schooner Alma

Steam tug "Hercules", San Francisco Maritime Natl Hist Park

Steam tug Hercules

"Balclutha", San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park

Square rig sailing ship Balclutha

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Paddlewheel tug Eppleton Hall

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Steam ferryboat Eureka

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Lumber schooner C.A. Thayer

The fleet also includes over one hundred small craft.

Visitor Center


The Visitor Center is housed in the park’s 1909 waterfront warehouse, located at the corner of Hyde and Jefferson Streets. The City of San Francisco declared the four-story brick structure an historic landmark in 1974, and the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Inside, exhibits (including a first order Fresnel lighthouse lens and a shipwrecked boat) tell the story of San Francisco’s colorful and diverse maritime heritage. The visitor center also contains a theater and a ranger-staffed information desk.

Maritime Museum


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Aquatic Park Bathhouse

The maritime museum was until recently housed in a Streamline Moderne (late Art Deco) building that is the centerpiece of the Aquatic Park Historic District, a National Historic Landmark at the foot of Polk Street and a minute’s walk from the visitor center and Hyde Street Pier. The building was originally built (starting in 1936) by the WPA as a public bathhouse, and its interior is decorated with fantastic and colorful murals, created primarily by artist and color theoretician Hilaire Hiler. The architects were William Mooser Jr. and William Mooser III.

Maritime Research Center


The Maritime Research Center is the premier resource for San Francisco and Pacific Coast maritime history. Originating in 1939, the collections have become the largest maritime collection on the West Coast and the largest museum and research collection in the National Park Service.

The collections include more than:

35,000 published titles comprising over 74,000 items
500,000 photographs
7,000 archival and manuscript collections
150,000 naval architecture and marine engineering drawings
3,000 maps and charts
150,000 feet of motion picture film and video
6,000 historical archaeology artifacts
2,500 pieces of folk and fine art
40,000 history objects
100 small craft
50,000 pieces of ephemera
600 oral histories and audio recordings

Supporting Associations


The park is supported by several cooperating associations. One of these is the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association.

Location and Access


The Visitors Center, Hyde Street Pier and Maritime Museum are all situated adjacent to the foot of Hyde Street and at the western end of the Fisherman’s Wharf district. The park headquarters and Maritime Research Center are located in Fort Mason, some 10 minutes walk to the west of the other sites. The Beach and Hyde Street terminal of the San Francisco cable car system adjoins the main site, while the Jones Street terminal of the F Market historic streetcar line is some 5 minutes walk to the east.

Opening times and fees for the various sites can be found on the park’s website, see ‘External links’ below.

Open Water Swimming

Aquatic Park is a popular place for open water swimming, both for recreation and training. The South End Rowing Club and Dolphin Club are located in Aquatic Park.

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From left to right: San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Telegraph Hill and Coit Tower, Fisherman’s Wharf, Downtown San Francisco, Russian Hill and Aquatic Park Historic District.

BayareaUSGS

Bay AreaUSGS

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Pier 39

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Location_map_San_Francisco_Central

Pier 39

Pier 39 is a shopping center and popular tourist attraction built on a pier in San Francisco, California. At Pier 39, there are shops, restaurants, a video arcade, street performances, the Aquarium of the Bay, virtual 3D rides, and views of California sea lions hauled out on docks on Pier 39’s marina. A two-story carousel is one of the pier’s more dominant features, although it is not directly visible from the street and sits towards the end of the pier. The family-oriented entertainment and presence of marine mammals make this a popular tourist location for families with kids.

The pier is located at the edge of the Fisherman’s Wharf district and is close to North Beach, Chinatown, and the Embarcadero. The area is easily accessible via the historic F Market streetcars.

From the pier one can see Angel Island, Alcatraz Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Bay Bridge. Blue & Gold Fleet’s bay cruises leave from Pier 39.

Pier 39 was first developed by entrepreneur Warren Simmons and opened October 4, 1978.

History of Pier 39 Sea Lions


California sea lions have always been present in San Francisco Bay. They started to haul out on docks of Pier 39 in September 1989. Before that they mostly used Seal Rock for that purpose. Ever since September 1989 the number of sea lions on Seal Rock has been steadily decreasing, while their number on Pier 39 has generally increased. Some people speculate that sea lions moved to docks because of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, but the earthquake occurred months after the first sea lions had arrived at Pier 39. It is likely that the sea lions feel safer inside the Bay.

 

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The sea lions at Pier 39 have become a tourist attraction in their own right

Although the reason for their migration to the pier is unclear, the refurbishing of the docks in September 1989 required the removal of all boats from that area, leaving large open spaces for the sea lions to move into. Once the project was completed, boat owners returned, but did their best to navigate around the sea lions; no efforts were made to encourage the new guests to leave. By the end of that year, less than a dozen sea lions frequented the docks at Pier 39. By January 1990, their numbers had increased to 150 animals. Owners of the 11 boats docked there began to complain about having to avoid the animals who can weigh up to half a ton, and odor and noise complaints began to pour in. Press releases caught national attention, and the sea lions began to attract tourists. Advice from The Marine Mammal Center was to abandon the docks to the animals, and to relocate the boats elsewhere.

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Sea lions on Pier 39

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Pier 39 and the Pier 39 sign

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Old Port Gate

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Pier 39 at night

Although fluctuations in the number of sea lions at Pier 39 are dramatic, as many as 1,701 (Thanksgiving Week, 2009) have been officially reported at one time, many of whom are recognizable to researchers and others, and some of whom have been unofficially named. Volunteers and staff at The Marine Mammal Store and Interpretive Center monitor the sea lion population each day, and educational information is provided to tourists who visit from around the world. Scientists continue to collect information there, adding to knowledge about sea lion health, dietary habits, and behavior. In November 2009 the more than 1,701 (Thanksgiving Week, 2009) sea lions that had lived at the pier began to leave, and by late December 2009 nearly all were gone; a similar flux in population occurs annually, with the animals returning in the spring. Although the reason for their seasonal appearance and departure is not known for certain, according to Jeff Boehm, executive director of the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, “Most likely, they left chasing a food source,” anchovies and sardines. A handful of sea lions did return in February, and by late May several hundred could once again be seen on Pier 39. It remains unknown exactly where they went and why. However, in December 2009, nearly 4,000 sea lions that were identified as members of the California sub-species were seen outside Oregon’s Sea Lion Caves, suggesting that they were likely the sea lions from Pier 39.

Opera Snapshot_2017-11-02_204725_en.wikipedia.org

Fisherman’s Wharf

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Location_map_San_Francisco_Central

Fishermans Wharf

Fisherman’s Wharf is a neighborhood and popular tourist attraction in San Francisco, California. It roughly encompasses the northern waterfront area of San Francisco from Ghirardelli Square or Van Ness Avenue east to Pier 35 or Kearny Street. The F Market streetcar runs through the area, the Powell-Hyde cable car lines runs to Aquatic Park, at the edge of Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Powell-Mason cable car line runs a few blocks away.

Contents
1 History
2 Attractions and characteristics
3 In popular culture

History


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Fisherman’s Wharf, ca. 1891

San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf gets its name and neighborhood characteristics from the city’s early days of the mid to later 1800s when Italian immigrant fishermen came to the city by the bay to take advantage of the influx of population due to the gold rush. One, Achille Paladini, found success wholesaling local fish as owner of the Paladini Fish Company, and came to be known as the “Fish King”. Most of the Italian immigrant fishermen settled in the North Beach area close to the wharf and fished for the local delicacies and the now famed Dungeness crab. From then until the present day it remained the home base of San Francisco’s fishing fleet. Despite its redevelopment into a tourist attraction during the 1970s and 1980s, the area is still home to many active fishermen and their fleets.

In 2010, a $15,000,000 development plan was proposed by city officials hoping to revitalize its appearance for tourists, and to reverse the area’s downward trend in popularity among San Francisco residents, who have shunned the locale over the years.

Attractions and Characteristics


Fishermans_Wharf_aerial_view

Aerial view of San Francisco, looking south, with Fisherman’s Wharf just left of center, directly above a lone sailboat

One of the busiest and well known tourist attractions in the western United States, Fisherman’s Wharf is best known for being the location of Pier 39, the Cannery Shopping Center, Ghirardelli Square, a Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum, the Musée Mécanique, Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf, and the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.

Seafood restaurants are aplenty in the area. Some include the floating Forbes Island restaurant at Pier 39 to stands that serve fresh seafood, most notably Dungeness crab and clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl. Some of the restaurants, including Fishermen’s Grotto, Pompei’s Grotto and Alioto’s, go back for three generations of the same family ownership. Other restaurants include chains like Applebee’s and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. The area also has an In-N-Out Burger; local business leaders said they opposed every other fast food chain except In-N-Out, because they wanted to maintain the flavor of family-owned, decades-old businesses in the area, with one saying locals would ordinarily “be up in arms about a fast-food operation coming to Fisherman’s Wharf,” but the family-owned In-N-Out “is different.”

Other attractions in Fisherman’s Wharf area are the Hyde Street Pier (part of the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park), the USS Pampanito, a decommissioned World War II era submarine, and the Balclutha, a 19th-century cargo ship. Nearby Pier 45 has a chapel in memory of the “Lost Fishermen” of San Francisco and Northern California.

There is a sea lion colony next to Pier 39. They “took-up” residence months before the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. The sea lions lie on wooden docks that were originally used for docking boats.

Fisherman’s Wharf plays host to many San Francisco events, including a world-class fireworks display for Fourth of July, and some of the best views of the Fleet Week air shows featuring The Blue Angels.

One of the city’s most popular figures is a harmless but controversial resident of Fisherman’s Wharf called the World Famous Bushman, a local street performer who sits behind some branches and startles people who walk by. He has been a permanent entertainer in the Fisherman’s Wharf area for the past 30 years and has gained a fair amount of notoriety among the locals and tourists that have been warned about him.

In Popular Culture


In 1985, the wharf was used as a filming location in the James Bond film A View to a Kill, where Bond (played for the last time by Roger Moore) met with CIA agent Chuck Lee (David Yip) in his quest to eliminate the villain of the film, Max Zorin (Christopher Walken).

San Francisco

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

San Francisco, California
Consolidated city-county
City and County of San Francisco

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San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge from Marin Headlands

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Flag

Seal_of_San_Francisco

Seal

Nickname(s): See List of nicknames for San Francisco
Motto: Oro en Paz, Fierro en Guerra (Spanish)
(English: “Gold in Peace, Iron in War”)

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Location of San Francisco in California
Coordinates: 37°47′N 122°25′W

  • Country:  United States
  • State: California
  • CSA: San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland
  • Metro: San Francisco–Oakland–Hayward
  • Mission: June 29, 1776
  • Incorporated: April 15, 1850
  • Founded by:
    • José Joaquin Moraga
    • Francisco Palóu
  • Named for: St. Francis of Assisi
  • Government
    • Type Mayor-council
    • Body Board of Supervisors
    • Mayor Edwin M. Lee (D)
    • Supervisors
  • List
    • Assembly members David Chiu (D)
  • Phil Ting (D)
    • State senator Scott Wiener (D)
    • United States Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D)
  • Jackie Speier (D)
  • Area
    • City and county 231.89 sq mi (600.59 km2)
    • Land 46.89 sq mi (121.46 km2)
    • Water 185.00 sq mi (479.14 km2) 80.00%
    • Metro 3,524.4 sq mi (9,128 km2)
  • Elevation: 52 ft (16 m)
  • Highest elevation: 934 ft (285 m)
  • Lowest elevation: 0 ft (0 m)
  • Population (2016):
    • City and county: 870,887
    • Estimate: (2016) 870,887
    • Rank: 13th, U.S.
    • Density: 18,573/sq mi (7,170/km2)
    • Metro: 4,679,166 (11th)
    • CSA: 8,751,807 (5th)
  • Demonym(s): San Franciscan
  • Time zone: Pacific Time Zone (UTC−8)
    • Summer (DST) Pacific Daylight Time (UTC−7)
  • ZIP Codes:
    • 94102–94105, 94107–94112, 94114–94134, 94137, 94139–94147, 94151,
    • 94158–94161, 94163–94164, 94172, 94177, 94188
  • Area codes: 415/628
  • FIPS code: 06-67000
  • GNIS feature: IDs 277593, 2411786
  • Website: sf gov

San Francisco (initials SF) (/ˌsæn frənˈsɪskoʊ/, Spanish for Saint Francis; Spanish: [san franˈsisko]), officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the cultural, commercial, and financial center of Northern California. The consolidated city-county covers an area of about 47.9 square miles (124 km2) at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is the fourth-most populous city in California, and the 13th-most populous in the United States, with a 2016 census-estimated population of 870,887. The population is projected to reach 1 million by 2033.
San Francisco was founded on June 29, 1776, when colonists from Spain established Presidio of San Francisco at the Golden Gate and Mission San Francisco de Asís a few miles away, all named for St. Francis of Assisi. The California Gold Rush of 1849 brought rapid growth, making it the largest city on the West Coast at the time. San Francisco became a consolidated city-county in 1856. After three-quarters of the city was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire, San Francisco was quickly rebuilt, hosting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition nine years later. In World War II, San Francisco was a major port of embarkation for service members shipping out to the Pacific Theater. It then became the birthplace of the United Nations in 1945. After the war, the confluence of returning servicemen, massive immigration, liberalizing attitudes, along with the rise of the “hippie” counterculture, the Sexual Revolution, the Peace Movement growing from opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War, and other factors led to the Summer of Love and the gay rights movement, cementing San Francisco as a center of liberal activism in the United States. Politically, the city votes strongly along liberal Democratic Party lines.

A popular tourist destination, San Francisco is known for its cool summers, fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of architecture, and landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, the former Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, Fisherman’s Wharf, and its Chinatown district. San Francisco is also the headquarters of five major banking institutions and various other companies such as Levi Strauss & Co., Gap Inc., Fitbit, Salesforce.com, Dropbox, Reddit, Square, Inc., Dolby, Airbnb, Weebly, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Yelp, Pinterest, Twitter, Uber, Lyft, Mozilla, Wikimedia Foundation, Craigslist and Weather Underground. It is home to number of educational and cultural institutions, such as the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), the De Young Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the California Academy of Sciences.

San Francisco has several nicknames, including “The City by the Bay”, “Golden Gate City”, “Frisco”, “SF”, “San Fran”, “Fog City”, and as well as older ones like “The City that Knows How”, “Baghdad by the Bay”, “The Paris of the West”, or simply “The City”. As of 2017, San Francisco is ranked high on world liveability rankings.

Contents
1 History
2 Geography
2.1 Cityscape
2.1.1 Neighborhoods
2.2 Climate
3 Demographics
3.1 Race, ethnicity, religion and languages
3.2 Education, households, and income
3.2.1 Homelessness
4 Economy
4.1 Tourism and conventions
5 Culture and contemporary life
5.1 LGBT
5.2 Entertainment and performing arts
5.3 Museums
6 Sports
7 Beaches and parks
8 Law and government
8.1 Crime
8.2 Gangs
8.3 Public safety
9 Education
9.1 Colleges and universities
9.2 Primary and secondary schools
9.3 Early education
10 Media
11 Transportation
11.1 Freeways and roads
11.2 Public transportation
11.3 Airports
11.4 Cycling and walking
12 Notable people
13 Consulates and sister cities
13.1 Sister Cities

1 | History


Historical affiliations

  • Spanish Empire 1776–1821
  • First Mexican Empire 1821–1823
  • Mexico United Mexican States 1823–1848
  • United States 1848–present

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Mission San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores)

The earliest archaeological evidence of human habitation of the territory of the city of San Francisco dates to 3000 BC. The Yelamu group of the Ohlone people resided in a few small villages when an overland Spanish exploration party, led by Don Gaspar de Portolà, arrived on November 2, 1769, the first documented European visit to San Francisco Bay. Seven years later, on March 28, 1776, the Spanish established the Presidio of San Francisco, followed by a mission, Mission San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores), established by the Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza.

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View of San Francisco 1846–47

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1853 United States Coast Survey Map

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 Alcalde Francisco 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.

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Francis Samuel Marryat, Hilltop of San Francisco, California, Looking toward the Bay, 1849. M.& N. Hanhart Chromolithograph

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Port of San Francisco in 1851

The California Gold Rush brought a flood of treasure seekers (known as “forty-niners”, as in “1849”). 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. Some of these approximately 500 abandoned ships were used at times as storeships, saloons and hotels; many were left to rot and some were sunk to establish title to the underwater lot. By 1851 the harbor was extended out into the bay by wharves while buildings were erected on piles among the ships. By 1870 Yerba Buena Cove had been filled to create new land. Buried ships are occasionally exposed when foundations are dug for new buildings.

California was quickly granted statehood in 1850 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 Nevada 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, drawn to “Old Gold Mountain”, 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 United States 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 of the city’s population of 400,000 was 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.

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“Not in history has a modern imperial city been so completely destroyed. San Francisco is gone.” –Jack London after the 1906 earthquake and fire

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The Palace of Fine Arts at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition

Rebuilding was rapid and performed on a grand scale. Rejecting calls to completely remake the street grid, San Franciscans opted for speed. Amadeo Giannini’s Bank of Italy, later to become Bank of America, provided loans for many of those whose livelihoods had been devastated. The influential San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association or SPUR was founded in 1910 to address the quality of housing after the earthquake. The earthquake hastened development of western neighborhoods that survived the fire, including Pacific Heights, where many of the city’s wealthy rebuilt their homes. In turn, the destroyed mansions of Nob Hill became grand hotels. City Hall rose again in splendid Beaux Arts style, and the city celebrated its rebirth at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915.

It was during this period San Francisco built some of its most important infrastructure. Civil Engineer Michael O’Shaughnessy was hired by San Francisco Mayor James Rolph as chief engineer for the city in September 1912 to supervise the construction of the Twin Peaks Reservoir, the Stockton Street Tunnel, the Twin Peaks Tunnel, the San Francisco Municipal Railway, the Auxiliary Water Supply System, and new sewers. San Francisco’s streetcar system, of which the J, K, L, M, and N lines survive today, was pushed to completion by O’Shaughnessy between 1915 and 1927. It was the O’Shaughnessy Dam, Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, and Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct that would have the largest effect on San Francisco. An abundant water supply enabled San Francisco to develop into the city it has become today.

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The Bay Bridge, under construction in 1935, took forty months to complete.

In ensuing years, the city solidified its standing as a financial capital; in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash, not a single San Francisco-based bank failed. Indeed, it was at the height of the Great Depression that San Francisco undertook two great civil engineering projects, simultaneously constructing the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge, completing them in 1936 and 1937, respectively. It was in this period that the island of Alcatraz, a former military stockade, began its service as a federal maximum security prison, housing notorious inmates such as Al Capone, and Robert Franklin Stroud, The Birdman of Alcatraz. San Francisco later celebrated its regained grandeur with a World’s fair, the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939–40, creating Treasure Island in the middle of the bay to house it.

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The USS San Francisco steams under the Golden Gate Bridge in 1942, during World War II.

During World War II, the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard became a hub of activity, and Fort Mason became the primary port of embarkation for service members shipping out to the Pacific Theater of Operations. The explosion of jobs drew many people, especially African Americans from the South, to the area. After the end of the war, many military personnel returning from service abroad and civilians who had originally come to work decided to stay. The United Nations Charter creating the United Nations was drafted and signed in San Francisco in 1945 and, in 1951, the Treaty of San Francisco officially ended the war with Japan.

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.

Over this period, San Francisco became a magnet for America’s counterculture. 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, reaching a peak with the 1967 Summer of Love.] In 1974, the Zebra murders left at least 16 people dead. 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.

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 The Embarcadero as its historic downtown waterfront and revitalizing the Hayes Valley neighborhood.
Two recent decades have seen two booms driven by the internet industry. First was 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 in the South of Market district. 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. By the mid-2000s (decade), the social media boom had begun, with San Francisco becoming a popular location for tech offices and a popular place to live for people employed in Silicon Valley companies such as Apple and Google.

The Ferry Station Post Office Building, Armour & Co. Building, Atherton House, and YMCA Hotel are historic buildings among dozens of historical landmarks in the city according to the National Register of Historic Places listings in San Francisco.

2 | Geography


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The San Francisco Peninsula

San Francisco is located on the West Coast of the United States at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula and includes significant stretches of the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay within its boundaries. Several picturesque islands—Alcatraz, Treasure Island and the adjacent Yerba Buena Island, and small portions of Alameda Island, Red Rock Island, and Angel Island—are part of the city. Also included are the uninhabited Farallon Islands, 27 miles (43 km) offshore in the Pacific Ocean. The mainland within the city limits roughly forms a “seven-by-seven-mile square”, a common local colloquialism referring to the city’s shape, though its total area, including water, is nearly 232 square miles (600 km2).

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Cars navigate Lombard Street to descend Russian Hill.

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 928 feet (283 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. USGS has released the California earthquake forecast which models earthquake occurrence in California.

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 soil 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.

2.1 | Cityscape

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Downtown San Francisco, seen from Twin Peaks, in October 2006.

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Downtown San Francisco, seen from Twin Peaks at dusk, in December 2009.

2.1.1 | Neighborhoods

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San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest and one of the largest in North America.

The historic center of San Francisco is the northeast quadrant of the city anchored by Market Street and the waterfront. It is here that the Financial District is centered, with Union Square, the principal shopping and hotel district, and the Tenderloin nearby. Cable cars carry riders up steep inclines to the summit of Nob Hill, once the home of the city’s business tycoons, and down to the waterfront tourist attractions of Fisherman’s Wharf, and Pier 39, where many restaurants feature Dungeness crab from a still-active fishing industry. Also in this quadrant are Russian Hill, a residential neighborhood with the famously crooked Lombard Street; North Beach, the city’s Little Italy and the former center of the Beat Generation; and Telegraph Hill, which features Coit Tower. Abutting Russian Hill and North Beach is San Francisco’s Chinatown, the oldest Chinatown in North America. The South of Market, which was once San Francisco’s industrial core, has seen significant redevelopment following the construction of AT&T Park and an infusion of startup companies. New skyscrapers, live-work lofts, and condominiums dot the area. Further development is taking place just to the south in Mission Bay area, a former railroad yard, which now has a second campus of the University of California, San Francisco, and where the new Warriors arena will be built.

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.

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Skyscrapers are common in northeast San Francisco, the city’s downtown

North of the Western Addition is Pacific Heights, an affluent neighborhood that features the homes built by wealthy San Franciscans 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.

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The Transamerica Pyramid was the tallest building in San Francisco until 2016, when Salesforce Tower surpassed it

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 predominantly 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.

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.

2.2 | Climate

San Francisco has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb) characteristic of California’s coast, with moist mild winters and dry summers. San Francisco’s weather is strongly influenced by the cool currents of the Pacific Ocean on the west side of the city, and the water of San Francisco Bay to the north and east. This moderates temperature swings and produces a remarkably mild year-round climate with little seasonal temperature variation.

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Fog is a regular feature of San Francisco summers.

Among major U.S. cities, San Francisco has the coolest 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. As a result, the year’s warmest month, on average, is September, and on average, October is warmer than July, especially in daytime.

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 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 San Francisco International Airport (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. Above average rain years are often associated with warm El Niño conditions in the Pacific while dry years often occur in cold water La Niña periods. In 2013 (a “La Niña” year), a record low 5.59 in (142 mm) of rainfall was recorded at downtown San Francisco, where records have been kept since 1849. 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 106 °F (41 °C) on September 1, 2017. 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 falls under the USDA 10a Plant Hardiness zone.

Climate data for San Francisco (downtown),[a] 1981–2010 normals,[b] extremes 1849–present

Climate data for San Francisco

3 | Demographics


Historical population

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates San Francisco’s population to be 870,887 as of July 1, 2016, with a population density of 18,573/sq mi. San Francisco is the second-most densely populated major American city behind only New York (among cities greater than 200,000 population), and the fifth-most densely populated U.S. county.

San Francisco is the traditional focal point of the San Francisco Bay Area and forms part of the five-county San Francisco–Oakland–Hayward, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area, a region of 4.6 million people. It is also part of the greater 12-county San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area, whose population is over 8.7 million, making it the fifth-largest in the United States as of July 1, 2015.

Race, Ethnicity, Religion and Languages

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. As of the 2010 census, the ethnic makeup and population of San Francisco included: 390,387 whites (48%), 267,915 Asians (33%), 48,870 African Americans (6%), and others. There were 121,744 Hispanics or Latinos of any race (15%).

In 2010, residents of Chinese ethnicity constituted the largest single ethnic minority group in San Francisco at 21% of the population; the other Asian groups are Filipinos (5%) and Vietnamese (2%). The population of Chinese ancestry is most heavily concentrated in Chinatown, Sunset District, and Richmond District, whereas Filipinos are most concentrated in the Crocker-Amazon (which is contiguous with the Filipino community of Daly City, which has one of the highest concentrations of Filipinos in North America), as well as in SoMa. 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.

The principal Hispanic groups in the city were those of Mexican (7%) and Salvadoran (2%) ancestry. The Hispanic population is most heavily concentrated in the Mission District, Tenderloin District, and Excelsior District. The city’s percentage of Hispanic residents is less than half of that of the state. San Francisco’s African American population has declined to 6% of the city’s population. The percentage of African Americans in San Francisco is similar to that of California. The majority of the city’s black population reside within the neighborhoods of Bayview-Hunters Point, Visitacion Valley, and in the Fillmore District.

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Map of racial distribution in San Francisco Bay Area, 2010 U.S. Census. Each dot is 25 people: White, Black, Asian Hispanic, or Other (yellow)

Demographic profile 2010 2000 1990 1970 1940

Demographic Profile

According to a 2014 study by the Pew Research Center, the largest religious groupings in San Francisco’s metropolitan area are Christians (48%), followed by those of no religion (35%), Hindus (5%), Jews (3%), Buddhists (2%), Muslims (1%) and a variety of other religions have smaller followings. According to the same study by the Pew Research Center, about 20% of residents in the area are Protestant, and 25% professing Roman Catholic beliefs. Meanwhile, 10% of the residents in metropolitan San Francisco identifies as agnostics, while 5% identifies as atheists.

As of 2010, 55% (411,728) of San Francisco residents spoke English at home as a primary language, while 19% (140,302) spoke a variety of Chinese (mostly Taishanese and Cantonese), 12% (88,147) Spanish, 3% (25,767) Tagalog, and 2% (14,017) Russian. In total, 45% (342,693) of San Francisco’s population spoke a mother language other than English.

Education, Households, and Income

Of all major cities in the United States, San Francisco has the second-highest percentage of residents with a college degree, behind only Seattle. Over 44% of adults have a bachelor’s or higher degree. 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).

San Francisco has the highest percentage of gay and lesbian individuals of any of the 50 largest U.S. cities, at 15%. 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

Income in 2011

San Francisco ranks third of American cities in median household income] with a 2007 value of $65,519. Median family income is $81,136. An emigration of middle-class families has left the city with a lower proportion of children, 15%, than any other large American city. The city’s poverty rate is 12%, lower than the national average. Homelessness has been a chronic problem for San Francisco since the early 1970s. The city is believed to have the highest number of homeless inhabitants per capita of any major U.S. city.

There are 345,811 households in the city, out of which: 133,366 households (39%) were individuals, 109,437 (32%) were opposite-sex married couples, 63,577 (18%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 21,677 (6%) were unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 10,384 (3%) were same-sex married couples or partnerships. The average household size was 2.26; the average family size was 3.11. 452,986 people (56%) lived in rental housing units, and 327,985 people (41%) lived in owner-occupied housing units. The median age of the city population is 38 years.

Homelessness

Homelessness, historically, has been a major problem in the city and remains a growing problem in modern times. The homeless population is estimated to be 13,500 with 6,500 living on the streets.

4 | Economy


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 2015, GDP in the five-county San Francisco metropolitan area was $431.7 billion. Additionally, in 2015 the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland combined statistical area had a GDP of $758.5 billion, ranking 3rd among CSAs, and ahead of all but 16 countries. San Francisco’s per capita personal income in 2015 was $117,680 adjusted for inflation, ranking 12th among 3,007 U.S. Counties.

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California Street in the Financial District

The legacy of the California Gold Rush turned San Francisco into the principal banking and finance center of the West Coast in the early twentieth century. Montgomery Street in the Financial District became known as the “Wall Street of the West”, home to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Wells Fargo corporate headquarters, and the site of the now-defunct Pacific Coast Stock Exchange. Bank of America, a pioneer in making banking services accessible to the middle class, was founded in San Francisco and in the 1960s, built the landmark modern skyscraper at 555 California Street for its corporate headquarters. Many large financial institutions, multinational banks, and venture capital firms are based in or have regional headquarters in the city. With over 30 international financial institutions, six Fortune 500 companies, and a large support infrastructure of professional services—including law, public relations, architecture and design—San Francisco is designated as an Alpha(-) World City. The 2017 Global Financial Centres Index ranked San Francisco as the sixth most competitive financial center in the world.

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Alcatraz receives 1.5 million annual visitors.

Since the 1990s, San Francisco’s economy has diversified away from finance and tourism towards the growing fields of high tech, biotechnology, and medical research. Technology jobs accounted for just 1 percent of San Francisco’s economy in 1990, growing to 4 percent in 2010 and an estimated 8 percent by the end of 2013. San Francisco became an epicenter of Internet start-up companies during the dot-com bubble of the 1990s and the subsequent social media boom of the late 2000s (decade). Since 2010, San Francisco proper has attracted an increasing share of venture capital investments as compared to nearby Silicon Valley, attracting 423 financings worth US$4.58 billion in 2013. In 2004, the city approved a payroll tax exemption for biotechnology companies to foster growth in the Mission Bay neighborhood, site of a second campus and hospital of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Mission Bay hosts the UCSF Medical Center, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, and Gladstone Institutes, as well as more than 40 private-sector life sciences companies.

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Ships docked at Pier 3, with Financial District skyscrapers in the background.

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 started a publicity campaign in 2004 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. However, by 2016, San Francisco was rated low by small businesses in a Business Friendliness Survey.

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.

4.1 | Tourism and Conventions

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. It attracts the fifth-highest number of foreign tourists of any city in the United States and is one of the 100 most visited cities worldwide. More than 18 million visitors arrived in San Francisco in 2014, adding US$10.67 billion to 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.

Some of the most popular tourist attractions in San Francisco noted by the Travel Channel include the Golden Gate Bridge and Alamo Square Park, which is home to the famous “Painted Ladies”. Both of these locations were often used as landscape shots for the hit American sitcom Full House. There is also Lombard Street, known for its “crookedness” and beautiful views. Tourists also flood to Pier 39, which offers dining, shopping, entertainment, and beautiful views of the bay, sun-bathing seals, and the famous Alcatraz Island.

San Francisco also offers tourists cultural and unique nightlife in its neighborhoods.

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The Ferry Building along the Embarcadero

The new Terminal Project at Pier 27 opened September 25, 2014 as a replacement for the old Pier 35. Itineraries from San Francisco usually include round trip cruises to Alaska and Mexico.

A heightened interest in conventioneering in San Francisco, marked by the establishment of convention centers such as Yerba Buena, acted as a feeder into the local tourist economy and resulted in an increase in the hotel industry: “In 1959, the city had fewer than thirty-three hundred first-class hotel rooms; by 1970, the number was nine thousand; and by 1999, there were more than thirty thousand.” The commodification of the Castro District has contributed to San Francisco’s tourist economy.

5 | Culture and Contemporary Life


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Boutiques along Fillmore Street in Pacific Heights

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 United States 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, cafés and nightlife such as Union Street in Cow Hollow, 24th Street in Noe Valley, Valencia Street in the Mission, Grant Avenue in North Beach, 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.

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High-rises surround Yerba Buena Gardens, South of Market

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 2014 quality of life survey of global cities, San Francisco has the 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. By June 2, 2015, the median rent was reported to be as high as $4,225. The high cost of living is due in part to restrictive planning laws which limit new residential construction.

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.

With the arrival of the “beat” writers and artists of the 1950s and societal changes culminating in the Summer of Love in the Haight-Ashbury district during the 1960s, San Francisco became a center of liberal activism and of the counterculture that arose at that time. The Democrats and to a lesser extent the Green Party have dominated city politics since the late 1970s, after the last serious Republican challenger for city office lost the 1975 mayoral election by a narrow margin. San Francisco has not voted more than 20% for a Republican presidential or senatorial candidate since 1988. In 2007, the city expanded its Medicaid and other indigent medical programs into the “Healthy San Francisco” program, which subsidizes certain medical services for eligible residents.

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 Sunset Reservoir Solar Project, completed in 2010, installed 24,000 solar panels on the 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.

5.1 | LGBT

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The rainbow flag, symbol of LGBT pride, originated in San Francisco; banners like this one decorate streets in The Castro.

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 United States, José Sarria; the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, 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. Survey data released in 2015 by Gallup place the proportion of the San Francisco metro area at 6.2%, which is the highest such proportion observed of the 50 most populous metropolitan areas as measured by the polling organization.

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 Pride events have been held continuously since 1972. The events are themed and a new theme is created each year. In 2013, over 1.5 million people attended, around 500,000 more than the previous year.

5.2| Entertainment and Performing Arts

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The lobby of the War Memorial Opera House, one of the last buildings erected in Beaux Arts style in the United States

San Francisco’s War Memorial and Performing Arts Center hosts some of the most enduring performing-arts companies in the country. The War Memorial Opera House houses the San Francisco Opera, the second-largest opera company in North America as well as the San Francisco Ballet, while the San Francisco Symphony plays in Davies Symphony Hall.

The Fillmore is a music venue located in the Western Addition. It is the second incarnation of the historic venue that gained fame in the 1960s, housing the stage where now-famous musicians such as the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin and Jefferson Airplane first performed, fostering the San Francisco Sound.

San Francisco has a large number of theaters and live performance venues. Local theater companies have been noted for risk taking and innovation. The Tony Award-winning non-profit American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) is a member of the national League of Resident Theatres. Other local winners of the Regional Theatre Tony Award include the San Francisco Mime Troupe. San Francisco theaters frequently host pre-Broadway engagements and tryout runs, and some original San Francisco productions have later moved to Broadway.

5.3 | Museums

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) houses 20th century and contemporary works of art. It moved to its current building in the South of Market neighborhood in 1995 and attracted more than 600,000 visitors annually. SFMOMA closed for renovation and expansion in 2013. The museum reopened on May 14, 2016 with an addition, designed by Snøhetta, that has doubled the museum’s size.

The Palace of the Legion of Honor holds primarily European antiquities and works of art at its Lincoln Park building modeled after its Parisian namesake. The de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park features American decorative pieces and anthropological holdings from Africa, Oceania and the Americas, while Asian art is housed in the Asian Art Museum. Opposite the de Young stands the California Academy of Sciences, a natural history museum that also hosts the Morrison Planetarium and Steinhart Aquarium. Located on Pier 15 on the Embarcadero, the Exploratorium is an interactive science museum. The Contemporary Jewish Museum is a non-collecting institution that hosts a broad array of temporary exhibitions. On Nob Hill, the Cable Car Museum is a working museum featuring the cable car power house, which drives the cables.

6 | Sports


AT&T_Park_July_24,_2016

AT&T Park opened in 2000.

Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants have played in San Francisco since moving from New York in 1958. The Giants play at AT&T Park, which opened in 2000. The Giants won World Series titles in 2010, 2012, and in 2014. The Giants have boasted such stars as Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Barry Bonds. In 2012, San Francisco was ranked #1 in a study that examined which U.S. metro areas have produced the most Major Leaguers since 1920.

The San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL) were the longest-tenured major professional sports franchise in the city until moving in 2013. The team began play in 1946 as an All-America Football Conference (AAFC) league charter member, moved to the NFL in 1950 and into Candlestick Park in 1971. The team began playing its home games at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara in 2014, closer to the city of San Jose. The 49ers won five Super Bowl titles in the 1980s and 1990s.

The San Francisco Warriors played in the NBA from 1962–1971, before being renamed the Golden State Warriors prior to the 1971–1972 season in an attempt to present the team as a representation of the whole state of California. The Warrior’s stadium, Oracle Arena, is currently located in Oakland, California. They have won 5 championships, including their most recent in 2017.

At the collegiate level, the San Francisco Dons compete in NCAA Division I. Bill Russell led the Don’s basketball team to NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956. There is also the San Francisco State Gators, who compete in NCAA Division II. AT&T Park hosted the annual Fight Hunger Bowl college football game from 2002 through 2013 before it moved to Santa Clara.

Olympic_Club,_San_Francisco

The Olympic Club.

The Bay to Breakers footrace, held annually since 1912, is best known for colorful costumes and a celebratory community spirit. The San Francisco Marathon attracts more than 21,000 participants. The Escape from Alcatraz triathlon has, since 1980, attracted 2,000 top professional and amateur triathletes for its annual race. The Olympic Club, founded in 1860, is the oldest athletic club in the United States. Its private golf course has hosted the U.S. Open on five occasions. San Francisco hosted the 2013 America’s Cup yacht racing competition.

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. San Francisco residents have often ranked among the fittest in the country. Golden Gate Park has miles of paved and unpaved running trails as well as a golf course and disc golf course. Boating, sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing are among the popular activities on San Francisco Bay, and the city maintains a yacht harbor in the Marina District.

7 | Beaches and Parks


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Ocean Beach, San Francisco with a view of the Cliff House

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Golden Gate Park as seen from Strawberry Hill

Several of San Francisco’s parks and nearly all of its beaches form part of the regional Golden Gate National Recreation Area, one of the most visited units of the National Park system in the United States with over 13 million visitors a year. Among the GGNRA’s attractions within the city are Ocean Beach, which runs along the Pacific Ocean shoreline and is frequented by a vibrant surfing community, and Baker Beach, which is located in a cove west of the Golden Gate and part of the Presidio, a former military base. Also within the Presidio is Crissy Field, a former airfield that was restored to its natural salt marsh ecosystem. The GGNRA also administers Fort Funston, Lands End, Fort Mason, and Alcatraz. The National Park Service separately administers the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park – a fleet of historic ships and waterfront property around Aquatic Park.

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Alamo Square is one of the most well known parks in the area, and is often a symbol of San Francisco for its popular location for film and pop culture.

There are more than 220 parks maintained by the San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department. The largest and best-known city park is Golden Gate Park, which stretches from the center of the city west to the Pacific Ocean. Once covered in native grasses and sand dunes, the park was conceived in the 1860s and was created by the extensive planting of thousands of non-native trees and plants. The large park is rich with cultural and natural attractions such as the Conservatory of Flowers, Japanese Tea Garden and San Francisco Botanical Garden. Lake Merced is a fresh-water lake surrounded by parkland and near the San Francisco Zoo, a city-owned park that houses more than 250 animal species, many of which are endangered. The only park managed by the California State Park system located principally in San Francisco, Candlestick Point was the state’s first urban recreation area.

8 | Law and Government


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.

1280px-San_Francisco_City_Hall_September_2013_panorama_3

San Francisco City Hall

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.

Because of its unique city-county status, local government exercises jurisdiction over property that would otherwise be located outside of its corporation limit. San Francisco International Airport, though located in San Mateo County, is owned and operated by the City and County of San Francisco. San Francisco also has a county jail complex located in San Mateo County, in an unincorporated area adjacent to San Bruno. San Francisco was also granted a perpetual leasehold over the Hetch Hetchy Valley and watershed in Yosemite National Park by the Raker Act in 1913.

San Francisco serves as the regional hub for many arms of the federal bureaucracy, including the U.S. Court of Appeals, the Federal Reserve Bank, and the U.S. Mint. Until decommissioning in the early 1990s, the city had major military installations at the Presidio, Treasure Island, and Hunters Point—a legacy still reflected in the annual celebration of Fleet Week. The State of California uses San Francisco as the home of the state supreme court and other state agencies. Foreign governments maintain more than seventy consulates in San Francisco.

The municipal budget for fiscal year 2015–16 was $8.99 billion, and is one of the largest city budgets in the United States. The City of San Francisco spends more per resident than any city other than Washington D.C, over $10,000 in FY 2015–2016. The city employs around 27,000 workers.

8.1 | Crime

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 (2012)

Population and crime rates (2012)

CHP_Police_Interceptor_Utility_Vehicle

CHP officers enforce the California Vehicle Code, pursue fugitives spotted on the highways, and attend to all significant obstructions and accidents within their jurisdiction.

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 drug abuse, gang violence, and prostitution. Another area with high crime rates is the Bayview-Hunters Point area. In the first six months of 2015 there were 25 murders compared to 14 in the first six months of 2014. However, the murder rate is still much lower than in past decades. That rate, though, did rise again by the close of 2016. According to the San Francisco Police Department, there were 59 murders in the city in 2016, an annual total that marked a 13.5% increase in the number of homicides (52) from 2015.

8.2 | Gangs

Several street gangs operate in the city, including MS-13, the Sureños and Norteños in the Mission District,. African-American street gangs familiar in other cities, including the Crips, have struggled to establish footholds in San Francisco, while police and prosecutors have been accused of liberally labeling young African-American males as gang members. Criminal gangs with shotcallers in China, including Triad groups such as the Wo Hop To, have been reported active in San Francisco. In 1977, an ongoing rivalry between two Chinese gangs led to a shooting attack at the Golden Dragon 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.

8.3 | Public Safety

The San Francisco Police Department was founded in 1849. The portions of Golden Gate National Recreation Area located within the city, including the Presidio and Ocean Beach, are patrolled by the United States Park Police.

The San Francisco Fire Department provides both fire suppression and emergency medical services to the city.

9 | Education


Colleges and Universities

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The Lone Mountain Campus of the University of San Francisco.

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San Francisco State University Main Quad

The University of California, San Francisco is the sole campus of the University of California system entirely dedicated to graduate education in health and biomedical sciences. It is ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States and operates the UCSF Medical Center, which ranks as the number one hospital in California and the number 5 in the country. UCSF is a major local employer, second in size only to the city and county government. A 43-acre (170,000 m2) Mission Bay campus was opened in 2003, complementing its original facility in Parnassus Heights. It contains research space and facilities to foster biotechnology and life sciences entrepreneurship and will double the size of UCSF’s research enterprise. All in all, UCSF operates more than 20 facilities across San Francisco. The University of California, Hastings College of the Law, founded in Civic Center in 1878, is the oldest law school in California and claims more judges on the state bench than any other institution. San Francisco’s two University of California institutions have recently formed an official affiliation in the UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science & Health Policy.

San Francisco State University is part of the California State University system and is located near Lake Merced. The school has approximately 30,000 students and awards undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees in more than 100 disciplines. The City College of San Francisco, with its main facility in the Ingleside district, is one of the largest two-year community colleges in the country. It has an enrollment of about 100,000 students and offers an extensive continuing education program.

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. With an enrollment of 13,000 students, the Academy of Art University is the largest institute of art and design in the nation. Founded in 1871, the San Francisco Art Institute is the oldest art school west of the Mississippi. The California College of the Arts, located north of Potrero Hill, has programs in architecture, fine arts, design, and writing. The San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the only independent music school on the West Coast, grants degrees in orchestral instruments, chamber music, composition, and conducting. The California Culinary Academy, associated with the Le Cordon Bleu program, offers programs in the culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, and hospitality and restaurant management. California Institute of Integral Studies, founded in 1968, offers a variety of graduate programs in its Schools of Professional Psychology & Health, and Consciousness and Transformation.

9.2 | Primary and Secondary Schools

Public schools are run by the San Francisco Unified School District as well as the State Board of Education for some charter schools. Lowell High School, the oldest public high school in the U.S. west of the Mississippi, and the smaller School of the Arts High School are two of San Francisco’s magnet schools at the secondary level. Public school students attend schools based on an assignment system rather than neighborhood proximity.

Just under 30% of the city’s school-age population attends one of San Francisco’s more than 100 private or parochial schools, compared to a 10% rate nationwide. Nearly 40 of those schools are Catholic schools managed by the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

9.3 | Early Education

San Francisco has nearly 300 preschool programs primarily operated by Head Start, San Francisco Unified School District, private for-profit, private non-profit and family child care providers. All 4-year old children living in San Francisco are offered universal access to preschool through the Preschool for All program.

10 | Media


SAN_FRANCISCO_CHRONICLE_BUILDING

San Francisco Chronicle Building

The major daily newspaper in San Francisco is the San Francisco Chronicle, which is currently Northern California’s most widely circulated newspaper. The Chronicle is most famous for a former columnist, the late Herb Caen, whose daily musings attracted critical acclaim and represented the “voice of San Francisco”. The San Francisco Examiner, once the cornerstone of William Randolph Hearst’s media empire and the home of Ambrose Bierce, declined in circulation over the years and now takes the form of a free daily tabloid, under new ownership. Sing Tao Daily claims to be the largest of several Chinese language dailies that serve the Bay Area. SF Weekly is the city’s alternative weekly newspaper. San Francisco Magazine and 7×7 are major glossy magazines about San Francisco. The national newsmagazine Mother Jones is also based in San Francisco.

The San Francisco Bay Area is the sixth-largest television 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.

All major U.S. television networks have affiliates serving the region, with most of them based in the city. CNN, MSNBC, BBC, Al Jazeera America, Russia Today, and CCTV America also have regional news bureaus in San Francisco. Bloomberg West was launched in 2011 from a studio on the Embarcadero and CNBC broadcasts from One Market Plaza since 2015. ESPN uses the local ABC studio for their broadcasting. The regional sports network, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and its sister station Comcast SportsNet California, are both located in San Francisco. The Pac-12 Network is also based in San Francisco.

Public broadcasting outlets include both a television station and a radio station, both broadcasting under the call letters KQED from a facility near the Potrero Hill neighborhood. KQED-FM is the most-listened-to National Public Radio affiliate in the country. Another local broadcaster, KPOO, is an independent, African-American owned and operated noncommercial radio station established in 1971. CNET, founded 1994, and Salon.com, 1995, are based in San Francisco.

San Francisco-based inventors made important contributions to modern media. During the 1870s, Eadweard Muybridge began recording motion photographically and invented a zoopraxiscope with which to view his recordings. 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.

11 | Transportation


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The Bay Bridge offers the only direct automobile connection to the East Bay.

11.1 | Freeways and Roads

Due to its unique geography, and the freeway revolts of the late 1950s, Interstate 80 begins at the approach to the Bay Bridge and is the only direct automobile link to the East Bay. U.S. Route 101 connects to the western terminus of Interstate 80 and provides access to the south of the city along San Francisco Bay toward Silicon Valley. Northward, the routing for U.S. 101 uses arterial streets to connect to the Golden Gate Bridge, the only direct automobile link to Marin County and the North Bay.

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The Golden Gate Bridge is the only road connection to the North Bay.

State Route 1 also enters San Francisco from the north via the Golden Gate Bridge and bisects the city as the 19th Avenue arterial thoroughfare, joining with Interstate 280 at the city’s southern border. Interstate 280 continues south from San Francisco, and 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 demolished the Embarcadero Freeway and a portion of the Central Freeway, converting them into street-level boulevards.

State Route 35 enters the city from the south as Skyline Boulevard and terminates at its intersection with Highway 1. State Route 82 enters San Francisco from the south as Mission Street, and terminates shortly thereafter at its junction with 280.

The Western Terminus of the historic transcontinental Lincoln Highway, the first road across America, is in San Francisco’s Lincoln Park.

11.2 | Public Transportation

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A cable car ascending Hyde St, with Alcatraz on the bay behind

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.

Bay Area Rapid Transit, a regional Rapid Transit system, connects San Francisco with the East Bay through the underwater Transbay Tube. The line runs under Market Street to Civic Center where it turns south to the Mission District, the southern part of the city, and through northern San Mateo County, to the San Francisco International Airport, and Millbrae.

Another Commuter Rail system, Caltrain, runs from San Francisco along the San Francisco Peninsula to San Jose. Historically, trains operated by Southern Pacific Lines ran from San Francisco to Los Angeles, via Palo Alto and San Jose.

Amtrak California Thruway Motorcoach runs a shuttle bus from San Francisco to its rail station across the Bay in Emeryville. Lines from Emeryville Station include the Capitol Corridor, San Joaquin, California Zephyr, and Coast Starlight. Thruway service also runs south to San Luis Obispo, California with connection to the Pacific Surfliner.

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The Golden Gate Ferry M/V Del Norte docked at the Ferry Building.

San Francisco Bay Ferry operates from the Ferry Building and Pier 39 to points in Oakland, Alameda, Bay Farm Island, South San Francisco, and north to Vallejo in Solano County. The Golden Gate Ferry is the other ferry operator with service between San Francisco and Marin County. Soltrans runs supplemental bus service between the Ferry Building and Vallejo.

San Francisco was an early adopter of carsharing in America. The non profit City Carshare opened in 2001. Zipcar closely followed.

To accommodate the large amount of San Francisco citizens who commute to the Silicon Valley daily, companies like Google and Apple have begun to provide private bus transportation for their employees, from San Francisco locations to the tech start-up hotspot. These buses have quickly become a heated topic of debate within the city, as protesters claim they block bus lanes and delay public buses.

11.3 | Airports

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San Francisco International Airport is the primary airport of San Francisco and the 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.

11.4 | Cycling and Walking

Cycling is a popular mode of transportation in San Francisco. 75,000 residents commute by bicycle per day. Bay Area Bike Share launched in August 2013 with 700 bikes in downtown San Francisco and selected cities south to San Jose. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Bay Area Air Quality Management District are responsible for the operation with management provided by Alta Bicycle Share. The system will be expanded in the future. Pedestrian traffic is a major mode of transport. In 2015, Walk Score ranked San Francisco the second-most walkable city in the United States.

San Francisco has significantly higher rates of pedestrian and bicyclist traffic deaths than the United States 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.

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. In 2008, the MTA estimated that about 128,000 trips were made by bicycle each day in the city, or 6% of total trips. Since 2002, improvements in cycling infrastructure in recent years, including additional bike lanes and parking racks, have 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.

12 | Notable people


13 | Consulates and Sister Cities


San Francisco participates in the Sister Cities program. A total of 41 consulates general and 23 honorary consulates have offices in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sister Cities

(not including other types of municipal partnerships such as “friendship cities”)

  • Ivory Coast Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire
  • Jordan Amman, Jordan
  • Italy Assisi, Umbria, Italy
  • Spain Barcelona, Spain
  • India Bangalore, India
  • Republic of Ireland Cork, Ireland
  • Israel Haifa, Israel
  • Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  • Poland Krakow, Poland
  • Philippines Manila, Philippines
  • Japan Osaka, Japan
  • France Paris, France
  • South Korea Seoul, South Korea
  • China Shanghai, China
  • Australia Sydney, Australia

Golden Gate Bridge

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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A view of the Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Point

  • Coordinates:  37°49′11″N 122°28′43″WCoordinates: 37°49′11″N 122°28′43″W
  • Carries: 6 lanes of US 101 / SR 1 (see below), pedestrians and bicycles.
  • Crosses: Golden Gate
  • Locale: San Francisco, California and Marin County, California, U.S.
  • Official name: Golden Gate Bridge
  • Maintained by Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District
  • Characteristics
    • Design Art Deco, Suspension, truss arch & truss causeways
    • Material Steel
    • Total length 8,981 ft (2,737.4 m), about 1.7 mi (2.7 km)
    • Width 90 ft (27.4 m)
    • Height 746 ft (227.4 m)
    • Longest span 4,200 ft (1,280.2 m)
    • Clearance above 14 ft (4.3 m) at toll gates, Trucks cannot pass
    • Clearance below 220 ft (67.1 m) at high tide
  • History
    • Architect Irving Morrow
    • Engineering design by Joseph Strauss, and Charles Ellis
    • Construction start January 5, 1933
    • Construction end April 19, 1937
    • Opened May 27, 1937; 80 years ago
  • Statistics
    • Daily traffic 110,000
    • Toll Cars (southbound only)
    • $7.50 (Pay by plate), $6.50 (FasTrak), $4.50 (carpools during peak hours, FasTrak only)
  • California Historical Landmark
    • Designated June 18, 1987
    • Reference no. 974
  • San Francisco Designated Landmark
    • Designated May 21, 1999
    • Reference no. 222

The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the one-mile-wide (1.6 km) strait connecting San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The structure links the American city of San Francisco, California – the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula – to Marin County, carrying both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1 across the strait. The bridge is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California, and the United States. It has been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The Frommer’s travel guide describes the Golden Gate Bridge as “possibly the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed, bridge in the world.” It opened in 1937 and was, until 1964, the longest suspension bridge main span in the world, at 4,200 feet (1,280 m).

History


Ferry Service

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Golden Gate with Fort Point in foreground, c. 1891

Before the bridge was built, the only practical short route between San Francisco and what is now Marin County was by boat across a section of San Francisco Bay. A ferry service began as early as 1820, with a regularly scheduled service beginning in the 1840s for the purpose of transporting water to San Francisco.

The Sausalito Land and Ferry Company service, launched in 1867, eventually became the Golden Gate Ferry Company, a Southern Pacific Railroad subsidiary, the largest ferry operation in the world by the late 1920s. Once for railroad passengers and customers only, Southern Pacific’s automobile ferries became very profitable and important to the regional economy. The ferry crossing between the Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco and Sausalito in Marin County took approximately 20 minutes and cost US$1.00 per vehicle, a price later reduced to compete with the new bridge. The trip from the San Francisco Ferry Building took 27 minutes.

Many wanted to build a bridge to connect San Francisco to Marin County. San Francisco was the largest American city still served primarily by ferry boats. Because it did not have a permanent link with communities around the bay, the city’s growth rate was below the national average. Many experts said that a bridge could not be built across the 6,700 ft (2,042 m) strait, which had strong, swirling tides and currents, with water 372 ft (113 m) deep at the center of the channel, and frequent strong winds. Experts said that ferocious winds and blinding fogs would prevent construction and operation.

Conception

Although the idea of a bridge spanning the Golden Gate was not new, the proposal that eventually took hold was made in a 1916 San Francisco Bulletin article by former engineering student James Wilkins. San Francisco’s City Engineer estimated the cost at $100 million, which would have been $2.12 billion in 2009, and impractical for the time. He asked bridge engineers whether it could be built for less. One who responded, Joseph Strauss, was an ambitious engineer and poet who had, for his graduate thesis, designed a 55-mile-long (89 km) railroad bridge across the Bering Strait. At the time, Strauss had completed some 400 drawbridges—most of which were inland—and nothing on the scale of the new project. Strauss’s initial drawings were for a massive cantilever on each side of the strait, connected by a central suspension segment, which Strauss promised could be built for $17 million.

Local authorities agreed to proceed only on the assurance that Strauss would alter the design and accept input from several consulting project experts. A suspension-bridge design was considered the most practical, because of recent advances in metallurgy.
Strauss spent more than a decade drumming up support in Northern California. The bridge faced opposition, including litigation, from many sources. The Department of War was concerned that the bridge would interfere with ship traffic. The navy feared that a ship collision or sabotage to the bridge could block the entrance to one of its main harbors. Unions demanded guarantees that local workers would be favored for construction jobs. Southern Pacific Railroad, one of the most powerful business interests in California, opposed the bridge as competition to its ferry fleet and filed a lawsuit against the project, leading to a mass boycott of the ferry service.

In May 1924, Colonel Herbert Deakyne held the second hearing on the Bridge on behalf of the Secretary of War in a request to use federal land for construction. Deakyne, on behalf of the Secretary of War, approved the transfer of land needed for the bridge structure and leading roads to the “Bridging the Golden Gate Association” and both San Francisco County and Marin County, pending further bridge plans by Strauss. Another ally was the fledgling automobile industry, which supported the development of roads and bridges to increase demand for automobiles.

The bridge’s name was first used when the project was initially discussed in 1917 by M.M. O’Shaughnessy, city engineer of San Francisco, and Strauss. The name became official with the passage of the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District Act by the state legislature in 1923, creating a special district to design, build and finance the bridge. San Francisco and most of the counties along the North Coast of California joined the Golden Gate Bridge District, with the exception being Humboldt County, whose residents opposed the bridge’s construction and the traffic it would generate.

Design

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South tower seen from walkway, with Art Deco elements

Strauss was chief engineer in charge of overall design and construction of the bridge project. However, because he had little understanding or experience with cable-suspension designs, responsibility for much of the engineering and architecture fell on other experts. Strauss’s initial design proposal (two double cantilever spans linked by a central suspension segment) was unacceptable from a visual standpoint. The final graceful suspension design was conceived and championed by Leon Moisseiff, the engineer of the Manhattan Bridge in New York City.

Irving Morrow, a relatively unknown residential architect, designed the overall shape of the bridge towers, the lighting scheme, and Art Deco elements, such as the tower decorations, streetlights, railing, and walkways. The famous International Orange color was originally used as a sealant for the bridge. The US Navy had wanted it to be painted with black and yellow stripes to ensure visibility by passing ships.

Senior engineer Charles Alton Ellis, collaborating remotely with Moisseiff, was the principal engineer of the project. Moisseiff produced the basic structural design, introducing his “deflection theory” by which a thin, flexible roadway would flex in the wind, greatly reducing stress by transmitting forces via suspension cables to the bridge towers. Although the Golden Gate Bridge design has proved sound, a later Moisseiff design, the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge, collapsed in a strong windstorm soon after it was completed, because of an unexpected aeroelastic flutter. Ellis was also tasked with designing a “bridge within a bridge” in the southern abutment, to avoid the need to demolish Fort Point, a pre–Civil War masonry fortification viewed, even then, as worthy of historic preservation. He penned a graceful steel arch spanning the fort and carrying the roadway to the bridge’s southern anchorage.

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Below Golden Gate Bridge

Ellis was a Greek scholar and mathematician who at one time was a University of Illinois professor of engineering despite having no engineering degree. He eventually earned a degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois prior to designing the Golden Gate Bridge and spent the last twelve years of his career as a professor at Purdue University. He became an expert in structural design, writing the standard textbook of the time. Ellis did much of the technical and theoretical work that built the bridge, but he received none of the credit in his lifetime. In November 1931, Strauss fired Ellis and replaced him with a former subordinate, Clifford Paine, ostensibly for wasting too much money sending telegrams back and forth to Moisseiff. Ellis, obsessed with the project and unable to find work elsewhere during the Depression, continued working 70 hours per week on an unpaid basis, eventually turning in ten volumes of hand calculations.

With an eye toward self-promotion and posterity, Strauss downplayed the contributions of his collaborators who, despite receiving little recognition or compensation, are largely responsible for the final form of the bridge. He succeeded in having himself credited as the person most responsible for the design and vision of the bridge. Only much later were the contributions of the others on the design team properly appreciated. In May 2007, the Golden Gate Bridge District issued a formal report on 70 years of stewardship of the famous bridge and decided to give Ellis major credit for the design of the bridge.

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The height, depth, and length of the span from end to end, looking west

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The Golden Gate Bridge at sunset, as seen from just north of Alcatraz Island

Finance

The Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District, authorized by an act of the California Legislature, was incorporated in 1928 as the official entity to design, construct, and finance the Golden Gate Bridge. However, after the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the District was unable to raise the construction funds, so it lobbied for a $30 million bond measure. The bonds were approved in November 1930, by votes in the counties affected by the bridge. The construction budget at the time of approval was $27 million. However, the District was unable to sell the bonds until 1932, when Amadeo Giannini, the founder of San Francisco–based Bank of America, agreed on behalf of his bank to buy the entire issue in order to help the local economy.

Construction

Construction began on January 5, 1933. The project cost more than $35 million, completing ahead of schedule and $1.3 million under budget. The Golden Gate Bridge construction project was carried out by the McClintic-Marshall Construction Co., a subsidiary of Bethlehem Steel Corporation founded by Howard H. McClintic and Charles D. Marshall, both of Lehigh University.

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1.2 million steel rivets hold the bridge together. This is a segment of one of those replaced during the seismic retrofit of the bridge after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

Strauss remained head of the project, overseeing day-to-day construction and making some groundbreaking contributions. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati, he placed a brick from his alma mater’s demolished McMicken Hall in the south anchorage before the concrete was poured. He innovated the use of movable safety netting beneath the construction site, which saved the lives of many otherwise-unprotected ironworkers. Of eleven men killed from falls during construction, ten were killed on February 17, 1937, when the bridge was near completion when the net failed under the stress of a scaffold that had fallen. According to Travel Channel’s Monumental Mysteries, the workers’ platform that was attached to a rolling hanger on a track collapsed when the bolts that were connected to the track were too small and the amount of weight was too great to bear. The platform fell into the safety net, but was too heavy and the net gave way. Two out of the twelve workers survived the 200-foot (61 m) fall into the icy waters, including the 37-year-old foreman, Slim Lambert. Nineteen others who were saved by the net over the course of construction became members of their Half Way to Hell Club.

The project was finished and opened May 27, 1937. The Bridge Round House diner was then included in the southeastern end of the Golden Gate Bridge, adjacent to the tourist plaza which was renovated in 2012. The Bridge Round House, an Art Deco design by Alfred Finnila completed in 1938, has been popular throughout the years as a starting point for various commercial tours of the bridge and an unofficial gift shop. The diner was renovated in 2012 and the gift shop was then removed as a new, official gift shop has been included in the adjacent plaza.

During the bridge work, the Assistant Civil Engineer of California Alfred Finnila had overseen the entire iron work of the bridge as well as half of the bridge’s road work. With the death of Jack Balestreri in April 2012, all workers involved in the original construction are now deceased.

Opening festivities, 50th, and 75th anniversaries

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View of the Golden Gate Bridge and Fort Point from Marine Drive.

The bridge-opening celebration began on May 27, 1937 and lasted for one week. The day before vehicle traffic was allowed, 200,000 people crossed either on foot or on roller skates. On opening day, Mayor Angelo Rossi and other officials rode the ferry to Marin, then crossed the bridge in a motorcade past three ceremonial “barriers”, the last a blockade of beauty queens who required Joseph Strauss to present the bridge to the Highway District before allowing him to pass. An official song, “There’s a Silver Moon on the Golden Gate”, was chosen to commemorate the event. Strauss wrote a poem that is now on the Golden Gate Bridge entitled “The Mighty Task is Done.” The next day, President Roosevelt pushed a button in Washington, D.C. signaling the official start of vehicle traffic over the Bridge at noon. As the celebration got out of hand there was a small riot in the uptown Polk Gulch area. Weeks of civil and cultural activities called “the Fiesta” followed. A statue of Strauss was moved in 1955 to a site near the bridge.

In May 1987, as part of the 50th anniversary celebration, the Golden Gate Bridge district again closed the bridge to automobile traffic and allowed pedestrians to cross the bridge. However, this celebration attracted 750,000 to 1,000,000 people, and ineffective crowd control meant the bridge became congested with roughly 300,000 people, causing the center span of the bridge to flatten out under the weight. Although the bridge is designed to flex in that way under heavy loads, and was estimated not to have exceeded 40% of the yielding stress of the suspension cables, bridge officials stated that uncontrolled pedestrian access was not being considered as part of the 75th anniversary on Sunday, May 27, 2012, because of the additional law enforcement costs required “since 9/11”.

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A pedestrian poses at the old railing on opening day, 1937

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Opening of the Golden Gate Bridge

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Official invitation to the opening of the bridge. This copy was sent to the City of Seattle

Structural Specifications


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On the south side of the bridge a 36.5-inch-wide (93 cm) cross-section of the cable, containing 27,572 wires, is on display.

Until 1964, the Golden Gate Bridge had the longest suspension bridge main span in the world, at 4,200 feet (1,300 m). Since 1964 its main span length has been surpassed by ten bridges; it now has the second-longest main span in the United States, after the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City. The total length of the Golden Gate Bridge from abutment to abutment is 8,981 feet (2,737 m).

The Golden Gate Bridge’s clearance above high water averages 220 feet (67 m) while its towers, at 746 feet (227 m) above the water, were the world’s tallest on a suspension bridge until 1998 when bridges in Denmark and Japan were completed.

The weight of the roadway is hung from two cables that pass through the two main towers and are fixed in concrete at each end. Each cable is made of 27,572 strands of wire. There are 80,000 miles (130,000 km) of wire in the main cables. The bridge has approximately 1,200,000 total rivets.

Aesthetics

The color of the bridge is officially an orange vermilion called international orange. The color was selected by consulting architect Irving Morrow because it complements the natural surroundings and enhances the bridge’s visibility in fog. Aesthetics was the foremost reason why the first design of Joseph Strauss was rejected. Upon re-submission of his bridge construction plan, he added details, such as lighting, to outline the bridge’s cables and towers. In 1999, it was ranked fifth on the List of America’s Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects.

The bridge was originally painted with red lead primer and a lead-based topcoat, which was touched up as required. In the mid-1960s, a program was started to improve corrosion protection by stripping the original paint and repainting the bridge with zinc silicate primer and vinyl topcoats. Since 1990, acrylic topcoats have been used instead for air-quality reasons. The program was completed in 1995 and it is now maintained by 38 painters who touch up the paintwork where it becomes seriously corroded.

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A view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin Headlands on a foggy morning at sunrise

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View of the northern tower of the bridge

Traffic


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Installation of the movable median barrier system in January 2015

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Testing the newly installed movable barrier.

Most maps and signage mark the bridge as part of the concurrency between U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1. Although part of the National Highway System, the bridge is not officially part of California’s Highway System. For example, under the California Streets and Highways Code § 401, Route 101 ends at “the approach to the Golden Gate Bridge” and then resumes at “a point in Marin County opposite San Francisco”. The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District has jurisdiction over the segment of highway that crosses the bridge instead of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).

The movable median barrier between the lanes is moved several times daily to conform to traffic patterns. On weekday mornings, traffic flows mostly southbound into the city, so four of the six lanes run southbound. Conversely, on weekday afternoons, four lanes run northbound. During off-peak periods and weekends, traffic is split with three lanes in each direction.

From 1968 to 2015, opposing traffic was separated by small, plastic pylons, and during that time, there were 16 fatalities resulting from 128 head-on collisions. To improve safety, the speed limit on the Golden Gate Bridge was reduced from 50 to 45 mph (80 to 72 km/h) on October 1, 1989. Although there had been discussion concerning the installation of a movable barrier since the 1980s, only in March 2005 did the Bridge Board of Directors commit to finding funding to complete the $2 million study required prior to the installation of a movable median barrier. Installation of the resulting barrier was completed on January 11, 2015, following a closure of 45.5 hours to private vehicle traffic, the longest in the bridge’s history. The new barrier system, including the zipper trucks, cost approximately $30.3 million to purchase and install.

Usage and Tourism

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Looking north with traffic and current flow into the bay with sailboats

The bridge is popular with pedestrians and bicyclists, and was built with walkways on either side of the six vehicle traffic lanes. Initially, they were separated from the traffic lanes by only a metal curb, but railings between the walkways and the traffic lanes were added in 2003, primarily as a measure to prevent bicyclists from falling into the roadway.

The main walkway is on the eastern side, and is open for use by both pedestrians and bicycles in the morning to mid-afternoon during weekdays (5 am to 3:30 pm), and to pedestrians only for the remaining daylight hours (until 6 pm, or 9 pm during DST). The eastern walkway is reserved for pedestrians on weekends (5 am to 6 pm, or 9 pm during DST), and is open exclusively to bicyclists in the evening and overnight, when it is closed to pedestrians. The western walkway is open only for bicyclists and only during the hours when they are not allowed on the eastern walkway.

Bus service across the bridge is provided by two public transportation agencies: San Francisco Muni and Golden Gate Transit. Muni offers Saturday and Sunday service on the Marin Headlands Express bus line, and Golden Gate Transit runs numerous bus lines throughout the week. The southern end of the bridge, near the toll plaza and parking lot, is also accessible daily from 5:30 a.m. to midnight by Muni line 28. The Marin Airporter, a private company, also offers service across the bridge between Marin County and San Francisco International Airport.

A visitor center and gift shop, dubbed the “Bridge Pavilion”, is located on the San Francisco side of the bridge, adjacent to the southeast parking lot. It opened in 2012, in time for the bridge’s 75th anniversary celebration. A cafe, outdoor exhibits, and restroom facilities are located nearby. On the Marin side of the bridge, only accessible from the northbound lanes, is the H. Dana Bower Rest Area and Vista Point, named after the first landscape architect for the California Division of Highways.

Lands and waters under and around the bridge are homes to varieties of wildlife such as bobcats and sea lions. Three species of cetaceans that had been absent in the area for many years show recent recoveries/(re)colonizations vicinity to the bridge, and researchers study them to strengthen protections, concerning actions by public and recommending to watch whales either from the bridge and nearby, or to use a local whale watching operator.

Tolls

The last of the construction bonds were retired in 1971, with $35 million in principal and nearly $39 million in interest raised entirely from bridge tolls.

In November 2006, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District recommended a corporate sponsorship program for the bridge to address its operating deficit, projected at $80 million over five years. The District promised that the proposal, which it called a “partnership program,” would not include changing the name of the bridge or placing advertising on the bridge itself. In October 2007, the Board unanimously voted to discontinue the proposal and seek additional revenue through other means, most likely a toll increase.

In an effort to save $19.2 million over the following 10 years, the Golden Gate District voted in January 2011 to eliminate all toll takers by 2012 and use only open road tolling. Subsequently, this was delayed and toll taker elimination occurred in March 2013. The cost savings have been revised to $19 million over an eight-year period. In addition to the FasTrak electronic toll collection system, the Golden Gate District implemented the use of license plate tolling (branded as “Pay-by-Plate”), and also a one time payment system for drivers to pay before or after their trip on the bridge. Twenty-eight positions were eliminated as part of this plan.

On April 7, 2014, the toll for users of FasTrak was increased from $5 to $6, while the toll for drivers using either the license plate tolling or the one time payment system was raised from $6 to $7. Bicycle, pedestrian, and northbound motor vehicle traffic remain toll free. For vehicles with more than two axles, the toll rate is $7 per axle for those using license plate tolling or the one time payment system, and $6 per axle for FasTrak users. During peak traffic hours, carpool vehicles carrying two or more people and motorcycles pay a discounted toll of $4; drivers must have Fastrak to take advantage of this carpool rate. The Golden Gate Transportation District then planned to increase the tolls by 25 cents in July 2015, and then by another 25 cents each of the next three years.

Golden Gate Bridge toll increases (2014–18)

Golden Gate Bridge toll increases

Congestion Pricing

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Looking south

In March 2008, the Golden Gate Bridge District board approved a resolution to start congestion pricing at the Golden Gate Bridge, charging higher tolls during the peak hours, but rising and falling depending on traffic levels. This decision allowed the Bay Area to meet the federal requirement to receive $158 million in federal transportation funds from USDOT Urban Partnership grant. As a condition of the grant, the congestion toll was to be in place by September 2009.

The first results of the study, called the Mobility, Access and Pricing Study (MAPS), showed that a congestion pricing program is feasible. The different pricing scenarios considered were presented in public meetings in December 2008.

In August 2008, transportation officials ended the congestion pricing program in favor of varying rates for metered parking along the route to the bridge including on Lombard Street and Van Ness Avenue.

Issues


Suicides

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As a suicide prevention initiative, this sign promotes a special telephone available on the bridge that connects to a crisis hotline.

The Golden Gate Bridge is the second-most used suicide site/suicide bridge in the world, after the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge. The deck is about 245 feet (75 m) above the water. After a fall of four seconds, jumpers hit the water at around 75 mph or about 120 km/h. Most of the jumpers die from impact trauma. About 5% of the jumpers survive the initial impact but generally drown or die of hypothermia in the cold water.
After years of debate and over an estimated 1,500 deaths, suicide barriers began to be installed in April 2017. Construction will take approximately four years at a cost of over $200 million.

Wind

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Air race near the Golden Gate Bridge

Since its completion, the Golden Gate Bridge has been closed because of weather conditions only three times: on December 1, 1951, because of gusts of 69 mph (111 km/h); on December 23, 1982, because of winds of 70 mph (113 km/h); and on December 3, 1983, because of wind gusts of 75 mph (121 km/h).

An anemometer, placed midway between the two towers on the west side of the bridge, has been used to measure wind speeds. Another anemometer was placed on one of the towers.

Seismic Vulnerability and Improvements

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Doyle Drive Replacement Project progress in October 2013

Modern knowledge of the effect of earthquakes on structures led to a program to retrofit the Golden Gate to better resist seismic events. The proximity of the bridge to the San Andreas Fault places it at risk for a significant earthquake. Once thought to have been able to withstand any magnitude of foreseeable earthquake, the bridge was actually vulnerable to complete structural failure (i.e., collapse) triggered by the failure of supports on the 320-foot (98 m) arch over Fort Point. A $392 million program was initiated to improve the structure’s ability to withstand such an event with only minimal (repairable) damage. One challenging undertaking is completing this program without disrupting traffic. A complex electro-hydraulic synchronous lift system was custom built for construction of temporary support towers and a series of intricate lifts, transferring the loads from the existing bridge onto the temporary supports. This was completed with engineers from Balfour Beatty and Enerpac, accomplishing this task without disrupting day-to-day San Francisco commuter traffic. The retrofit was planned to be completed in 2012.

The former elevated approach to the Golden Gate Bridge through the San Francisco Presidio, known as Doyle Drive, dated to 1933 and was named after Frank P. Doyle, President and son of the founder of the Exchange Bank in Santa Rosa, and the man who, more than any other person, made it possible to build the Golden Gate Bridge. The highway carried about 91,000 vehicles each weekday between downtown San Francisco and the North Bay and points north. The road was deemed “vulnerable to earthquake damage”, had a problematic 4-lane design, and lacked shoulders, and a San Francisco County Transportation Authority study recommended that it be replaced. Construction on the $1 billion replacement, temporarily known as the Presidio Parkway, began in December 2009. The elevated Doyle Drive was demolished on the weekend of April 27–30, 2012, and traffic used a part of the partially completed Presidio Parkway, until it was switched onto the finished Presidio Parkway on the weekend of July 9–12, 2015. As of May 2012, an official at Caltrans said there is no plan to permanently rename the portion known as Doyle Drive.

In Popular Culture


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Golden Gate Bridge at sunset

As a prominent American landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge has been used in numerous media which includes books, films and video games.

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Comparison of the side elevations of the Golden Gate Bridge and some notable bridges at the same scale. (click for interactive version)

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San Francisco with two bridges (Western section of Bay Bridge in the left background), Coit Tower (in background to the left of north tower), and Fort Mason (on the San Francisco waterfront in the background behind the north tower) from Marin

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Golden Gate Bridge at night, with San Francisco in the background