25 Interesting Facts About San Francisco

What comes to mind when you think of San Francisco?

Most would say iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. San Francisco has also become somewhat of a pop culture icon, featuring in films and TV shows like Full House and Mrs Doutbfire. However, as much as you might think you know about this iconic city, there’s really a lot more to it than meets the eye.

Here are 25 interesting facts about San Francisco you might not be aware of:

  1. Outside of Asia, SF has the second largest “Chinatown” in the world. In fact, over 100,000 people live in SF’s Chinatown and it’s the most densely populated neighbourhood in the city.
  2. SF is also home to the largest “Japantown” in the US, one of three Japantown’s you’ll find in the country.
  3. Before this great city gained its current name, it was actually known as “Yerba Buena.” Yerba Buena means good herb in Spanish. Of course, it was eventually renamed San Francisco in 1846.
  4. Although most people think it’s only around 7 or 8, San Francisco is actually built on over 50 rolling hills. Famous hills include the Russian Hill, Nob Hill and Twin Peaks.
  5. San Francisco Bay is home to a number of sharks. Although many people believe they are dangerous and potential man-eaters, most are small and not threatening at all. In the entire history of the city a Great White has only been spotted once, back in October 2015.
  6. San Fran hosts the largest American wine competition in the world. The Chronicle Wine Competition is held annually in February, after the winners have been announced you’re welcome to sample their delicious beverages.
  7. The Asian Art Museum in SF has art pieces which date all the way back to 221 BC. These ancient relics can be found in the China exhibit.
  8. SF locals love their independent films and every year the city hosts more than 50 film festivals. The highlights include the Greek and the American Indian Film Festivals.
  9. The first electric television was invented in SF by Philio Farnsworth in 1927.
  10. The United Nations Charter was signed in SF in the War Memorial and Performing Arts Center. This happened on June 26, 1945.
  11. Only two cemeteries remain in the city limits. One behind the Mission San Francisco de Asis and the other in the Presidio. This is because the board of supervisors of San Francisco voted to stop burials in the city because of space issues.
  12. In 1906, three quarters of San Francisco was destroyed by a massive earthquake and fire.
  13. Although the earthquake of 1906 badly damaged the city, it was actually the fires after the earthquake that did the most damage. Around 90% of it in fact.
  14. The colour of the Golden Gate Bridge is International Orange. However, this originally wasn’t the intended colour, and it’s actually the primer coat that was used to protect the steel of the bridge. The architect liked it more than the other colour options so decided to keep it.
  15. The Golden Gate Bridge was almost multi-coloured. The US Navy originally wanted the bridge to be painted with black and yellow stripes so it would be easier to see by boats through thick fog. 
  16. Following the devastating earthquake of 1906, it was The Panama Pacific Exposition in 1915 that allowed the city to rebuild and recover. This event lasted nine months and almost 19 million people attended.
  17. When “gold fever” hit California between 1848 and 1855, San Francisco’s port was filled with abandoned ships. These ships and boats were repurposed into businesses and homes for the locals.
  18. An unlikely hero saved much of the city from the 1906 fire – Redwood trees. Redwood has low resin content and a porous grain which absorbs water, meaning homes made of redwood didn’t go up in flames.
  19. In September of 1859, one of San Francisco’s most famous residents – Jousua Abraham Norton, proclaimed himself America’s emperor. 
  20. When Emperor Norton died in 1880, over 30,000 people filled the streets for his funeral.
  21. San Francisco is actually not a particularly large city. With only around 830,000 residents. The entire bay area however, is home to over 7 million people.
  22. Back in 1867 times were very different, and San Francisco instituted America’s first “ugly law” which prohibited those deemed unattractive from showing their faces in public. Of course, this law no longer exists.
  23. America’s famed Liberty Bell once took a vacation in San Francisco. This was during the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915. The infamous bell wanted to be part of the action and took a train tour of the city. Once the exposition ended it returned to Philadelphia where it remains to this day.
  24. The bear which appears on California’s state flag is based upon a grizzly bear named Monarch, who lived at Golden Gate Park.
  25. Out of all the historical monuments in the city, San Francisco’s cable cars are the only ones that move.

After finding out about all these great facts, it’s time to book your trip to San Francisco and the best boutique hotels can be found here!

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