Highlights of San Francisco
San Francisco is the cultural and financial center of the Western United States, and is located on a peninsula between the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean. It has the fourth highest population in California and is the second most densely populated, mostly at the north end of the peninsula.
Known for the summer fog that rolls in the afternoons during summer, the climate overall is cool but temperate, ranging from an average minimum of 51 degrees to an average maximum of 63 degrees. The city gets approximately 21 inches of rainfall per year. San Francisco has the coolest daily average temperatures of any major US city during June, July and August, largely because of the summer fog, which is caused by rising hot air in the interior valleys creating low pressure that draws winds from the north.
San Francisco is known for its hills, including Twin Peaks, Mount Davidson, Mount Sutro, Telegraph Hill and Nob Hill, named after the wealthy “nobs” (nabobs) built their mansions in the 1870s. The legacy of the California Gold rush is that it turned the city in to the primary banking and finance center of the west coast during the early 20th century, being called the Wall Street of the West and was the site of the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange, which is no longer operational.
Since then, the economy has diversified and high tech, biotechnology and medical research have grown. Technology jobs have grown from 1 percent in 1990 to over 9 percent today. In biotechnology, the city attracted biotech companies through a payroll tax exemption to create growth in the Mission Bay neighborhood, where the UCSF Medical Center, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences and the Gladstone Institute are located.
People began immigrating into San Francisco during the late 19th century. Groups included Americans moving west and Europeans arriving by ship. Jewish immigrants from Europe arrived before the gold seekers of 1849, and they were responsible for founding theaters, symphonies and libraries. African American population boomed during WWI and WWII, bringing workers to shipyards and other industries. San Francisco boasts a rich Chinatown, and in 2010 Chinese make up the largest single ethnic minority group in the city, at 21 percent of the population. Today, more than one of every to residents is nonwhite.
The most iconic symbol of the city is the cable car. It was invented by Andrew Hallidie because he felt sorry for the horses that were often injured on the steep hills. Today, more than two dozen cars operate and carry 15,000 people, but at its peak operation, nearly 600 cars covered 100 miles of the city. Much of that was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake.