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Travel to San Francisco: The City of San Francisco

San Francisco - The City of San Francisco

San Francisco is a golden dream come true, a place where heart, mind and soul embrace, lost in the simplicity of delightful deliverance. Fog and sun mingle playfully above America's favorite city; the cool, cloudy comfort of early morning slowly dissolving into the peaceful warmth of a gentle afternoon glow. Touch it....it is real. Feel it.....it is the essence of escape. Savor it.....it is one of a kind. Little wonder why the city of San Francisco has been named the world's top city twice by readers of Condé Nast Traveler; the top U.S. city seven times since 1988.

Early History of the City of San Francisco

Remarkably, the first European visitors to the San Francisco Bay Area missed the massive inlet altogether. In 1579, Sir Francis Drake landed at Point Reyes, about 35mi (60km) north of the city of San Francisco, claiming it for Queen Elizabeth and then sailing south straight past the Golden Gate. Not long after, Spanish explorers renamed the Point Reyes bay (now known as Drakes Bay ) La Bahia de San Francisco, but then proceeded to wreck their ship on Point Reyes and had to crawl south to the safety of Acapulco in a vessel lashed together from the wreckage. They too failed to notice the San Francisco Bay. Its European discovery had to wait nearly another 200 years.

The Golden Gate and the Gold Rush

In 1775, Juan Manuel de Ayala became the first European to enter the Golden Gate in the city of San Francisco. He was followed in 1776 by Captain Juan Bautista de Anza, who built a presidio (fort) above the Golden Gate and the Mission Dolores in the heart of today's Mission district. A tiny village known as Yerba Buena sprang up between the two and became the birthplace of the modern city of San Francisco. Yerba Buena was renamed San Francisco in 1847, just before a momentous discovery was made in the Sierra Nevada mountains to the east: there was gold in them thar hills. The news was soon out, and prospectors began to flood in; over 100,000 hardy '49ers (the year they made their voyage) endured the long overland trek or the dangerous sea voyage to the city of San Francisco, and the city's population exploded from 500 to 25,000 within a year. In 1850, California became the 31st state in the union, and by 1854 the booming gold-rush town already had more than 500 saloons and 20 theaters to entertain the hard-spending miners.

The initial gold rush fever had subsided by 1859, when a second rush took place, this time for the even richer wealth of the silver Comstock Lode near Reno, Nevada. The late 1870s saw the boom years of the gold and silver rushes dry up; nevertheless, the city of San Francisco grew steadily, and at the turn of the century the population was approaching 350,000. The Spanish-American War in 1898 and the Klondike Gold Rush in Canada's Yukon in 1896 underlined the city's importance as a port, while the opening of numerous banks established its continuing importance as a financial center. Then the 'Big One' brought a severe shake up.

Reconstruction After “The Big One” in the City of San Francisco

There had been major earthquakes in the city of San Francisco in 1812 and 1865, but the Big One of 18 May 1906 is estimated to have come in at around 8.3 on the Richter Scale (which had not, at that time, been invented), a magnitude still unmatched in California history. The quake was centered near Point Reyes , but it was not the quake itself that was to devastate the city of San Francisco. The real damage came from the fires - lit by toppling chimneys and fed by fractured gas mains - that swept across the city. Water mains had fractured too, so by the time the conflagration had burned itself out, half the city was in ruins. A decade of frantic rebuilding followed the quake, and the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition saw the city bigger and brighter than ever.

The city of San Francisco suffered through the Great Depression, and enormous public works projects attempted to yank the economy out of the doldrums. Two of the most prominent, the Bay Bridge of 1936 and the Golden Gate Bridge of 1937, are still magnificent symbols of the area. During WWII, the San Francisco Bay Area became a major launching pad for military operations in the Pacific, with gigantic shipyards springing up around the bay, breathing more life into the local economy.

New Beginnings for the City and Contemporary San Francisco >>


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