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San Francisco.

San Francisco History

The earliest inhabitants of San Francisco date back to about 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. The native people of the Bay area were called the Ohlone, which is an Indian word meaning "western people."

Despite various Spanish and Portuguese explorations in the late 1500s, the United States won out in the end, taking possession of San Francisco

and other parts of California during the Mexican-American War. The city received its name from the Chief Magistrate after his decree was published in a California newspaper.

Little more than a small Spanish settlement, the discovery of gold in California in 1848 catapulted the city into a mini-metropolis as more than 30,000 people settled in San Francisco after their rush westward. By 1869, thanks to the completion of the transcontinental railroad that linked the east and west coasts, San Francisco was finally recognized as a major US city and it was full-steam ahead.

By the end of the 19th century, San Francisco was a fairly progressive city. Levi Strauss obtained a patent for jeans and San Francisco’s cable car system was born. But the city has also had it’s share of damage and natural disasters, especially during this time period. The first of its major earthquakes shook the city in October 1865 with an even more severe one following three years later. The Great Earthquake struck in April 1906, but it was the Great Fire that followed that caused the worst damage to the city leaving 3,000 people dead and over 200,000 homeless.

But San Francisco has a habit of dusting itself off and moving on. Immediately following the Great Depression, the city began developing major public works, including the Bay Bridge which was officially opened in November 1936 to connect San Francisco with Oakland. A year later in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge was officially opened to pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

San Francisco likes to refer to itself as having “progressive politics.” The Sierra Club was first formed here and many leftist news papers and magazines like Mother Jones have been published here. An all-accepting environment from the start, Bohemian communities have thrived here as early as the 1860s when the Barbary Coast was known for its raucous entertainment. In the 1950s, the city’s main Italian community, North Beach, was home to the beat movement. After Allan Ginsburg’s notion of “flower power” was introduced, the Haight-Ashbury district flourished with hippies living their trademark lifestyle.

Present day San Francisco prides itself on tolerance and celebrates the diverse background of the people that represent the city. Asian-Americans make up nearly 35% of the city’s population. The Chinese settled into what is now known as Chinatown, abandoned warehouses left by white businesses seeking more elegant locations. Originally more of a refuge, the community still thrives and is a great place to bargain shop by day and grab a good meal at night.

In the late 1990s, San Francisco capitalized on the Internet boom and people once again went west to strike it rich. It was reported in 1999 by local media that 64 Bay area residents became millionaires every day! New found money caused soaring real estate prices pushing many of the elderly and minorities out of the city.

Today, the city is still regarded as having some of the most expensive rent in the US despite its recent decline, but San Francisco is now moving forward at a more reasonable pace.

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San Francisco Travel Guides
 Frommer's San Francisco
 Lonely Planet San Francisco
 Let's Go San Francisco
 Fodors San Francisco