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History of San Francisco, California

The cultural, commercial, and financial centre of Northern California is San Francisco, officially the City and County of San Francisco. San Francisco, with 881,549 residents as of 2019, is the 16th most populous city in the United States, and the fourth most populous in California. It occupies an area of approximately 46.89 square miles (121.4 km2), mainly at the northern end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, making it the second largest city in the U.S. and the fifth most heavily populated county in the U.S., behind only four of the five boroughs of New York City. With 4.7 million residents, San Francisco is the 12th largest metropolitan statistical area by population in the United States, and the fourth largest by economic production, with a GDP of $549 billion in 2018. With San Jose, the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area (9.67 million people in 2018) forms the fifth most populated combined statistical area in the United States.


On June 29, 1776, San Francisco was founded when Spain's colonists built the Presidio of San Francisco a few miles away at the Golden Gate and Mission San Francisco de Asís, both named after Francis of Assisi. The 1849 California Gold Rush brought rapid development, making it the largest city at the time on the West Coast. In 1856, San Francisco became a consolidated city-county. The status of San Francisco as the largest city on the West Coast peaked between 1870 and 1900, when about 25 percent of the population of California lived in the city proper. After the 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed three-quarters of the city, San Francisco was rapidly rebuilt, hosting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition San Francisco was a major embarkation port for service members shipping out to the Pacific Theater in World War II. In 1945, it became the birthplace of the United Nations. After the war, the confluence of returning veterans, massive immigration, liberalizing attitudes, along with the emergence of the "hippie" counterculture, the Sexual Revolution, the Peace Movement that arose out of opposition to the participation of the United States in the Vietnam War, and other factors contributed to the Summer of Love and the gay revolution. Politically, along liberal Democratic Party lines, the town votes strongly.


San Francisco is a popular tourist destination, known for its cool summers, fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic architectural mix, and landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, the former Federal Penitentiary of Alcatraz, Fisherman's Wharf, and the district of Chinatown. Five major banking institutions and many other firms, such as Levi Strauss & Co., Gap Inc., Fitbit,, Dropbox, Reddit, Square, Inc., Dolby, Airbnb, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Yelp, Pinterest , Twitter, Uber, Lyft, Mozilla, Wikimedia Foundation, and Craigslist, are also based in San Francisco. A global science and arts center, the city and the surrounding Bay Area is home to a variety of educational and cultural institutions, including the University of San Francisco, the University of California, the San Francisco San Francisco State University, the De Young Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the SFJAZZ Center, and the Academy of Sciences of California.

Here’s our list of the top 9 San Francisco Hidden Gems. We introduce more information about each on the following pages:  

  • Sutro Baths Ruins and Cave

  • Land's End Labyrinth

  • The Wave Organ

  • The Vulcan Stairs

  • Yerba Buena Garden Sculptures

  • Seward Mini Park

  • Telegraph Hill Parrots

  • Musee Mecanique

  • Angel Island State Park

All of these wonderful locations are located just a short drive from our location near Downtown Walnut Creek, California on Locust Street. Stop by for a visit anytime!

City view
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