San Francisco, California

Encyclopedia Article


San Francisco is the main commercial and cultural center of Northern California. The city was founded in 1776 by Spanish colonizers and grew fairly slowly until the Gold Rush of 1849, which brought about rapid population and economic growth. In 1906, a major earthquake followed by severe fires destroyed nearly three-quarters of the city. The damage was quickly repaired and in the first half of the 20th century the city attracted immigrants from around the world, as well as World War One veterans. In the 1960s and 1970s the hippie, peace, and gay rights movements were centered in the city and to this day it is a highly diverse and liberal hub of alternative culture and progressive social activism. It is a major tourist destination known for its scenic views, restaurants, eclectic architecture, rich history, cultural institutions, and mild weather. Many major technology and start-up companies are located in San Francisco and issues of gentrification and housing insecurity are hotly debated.

Photo Credit: 

"Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, September 2, 2008" by Bernard Gagnon is licensed under CC BY-SA.