Welcome to San Francisco

Welcome to San Francisco

San Francisco is a city easily stereotyped in travel literature. It’s the “City by the Bay,” whose iconic symbol, the Golden Gate Bridge, continues to be one of the most photographed expanses in the world. It’s home to cable cars that “climb halfway to the stars,” where Tony Bennett left his heart and tourists still drive down Lombard, its most crooked street (really its second most crooked.) There are so many San Francisco clichés: sourdough bread and Victorian Houses, Ghiradelli Chocolate and, of course, the famous fog. But there is so much more to San Francisco than a reddish-orange bridge, cable cars and Fisherman’s Wharf clam chowder in a bread bowl.

San Francisco has all the obvious assets mentioned above but also encompasses a peninsula with 47 square miles of diverse neighborhoods and culture, a panorama of food, art, architecture, history, and customs. Hotels can be in twin skyscrapers joined by a crystal walkway, smaller boutique hostelries or elegant Edwardian-era accommodations. Locals refer to it as “The City,” to differentiate it from the communities around it. It has all the amenities of a big city but San Francisco still manages to keep a small-town charm. It’s possible to spend a lot or a little and still have a great time there.

A gold rush, later silver boom and railroad fortunes built palatial homes on Nob Hill and made millionaires of me with names like Crocker, Huntington, Hopkins, and Stanford. This is the city that literally rose from the ashes of a fire and devastating earthquake that destroyed all but two of those mansions and most of the city itself.

Social revolutions were born in San Francisco, and although some may not approve, San Franciscans are known to be open-minded and tolerant of views and life-styles that middle-America find vastly different from their own. San Francisco loves to celebrate alternative live-styles and its own uniqueness with parades, ceremonies and exuberant merrymaking throughout the year.

San Francisco has attracted writers like Mark Twain, Maltese Falcon and Thin Man author, Dashielle Hammett, 1950’s Beat writers and poets Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, Kerouac, Kesey. Jack London and poet Robert Frost were natives, as was photographer Ansel Adams. Mexican artist Diego Rivera’s murals grace Coit Tower, City College and the Embarcadero’s Rincon Center. The musical diversity of the city and its environs spawned Janis Joplin, Carlos Santana, the Grateful Dead, Journey, Chris Isaak, and Green Day.

San Francisco’s cornerstone is pride: pride of its gorgeous location, pride in its rich history and pride in the diversity, sense of community and its insistence on the equality of all its people. That’s much more than the pretty picture postcards and tacky souvenir shops would lead you to believe. There’s plenty to explore in the “City by the Bay.” Let’s get started.

~ Written by C.S. Nicholson

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