San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco is the fourth most populous city in California and the 12th most populous city in the United States, with a 2008 estimated population of 808,976. It is the eighth most densely populated city in the U.S.  and is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the larger San Francisco Bay Area, a region of more than seven million people. The city is located at the northern end of the San Francisco Peninsula, with the Pacific Ocean to the west and San Francisco Bay to the north and east, and Daly City and Brisbane to the south.

Today, San Francisco is a popular international tourist destination renowned for its chilly summer fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of Victorian and modern architecture and its famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the cable cars, and Chinatown.

–  The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the opening of the San Francisco Bay onto the Pacific Ocean. As part of both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1, it connects the city of San Francisco on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula to Marin County. The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed during the year 1937, and has become an internationally recognized symbol of San Francisco and California. Since its completion, the span length has been surpassed by eight other bridges. It still has the second longest suspension bridge main span in the United States, after the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City. In 2007, it was ranked fifth on the List of America’s Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects.

–  The San Francisco Cable Car System is the world’s last permanently operational manually-operated cable car system.  Cable cars operate on two routes from downtown near Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf, and a third route along California Street. While the cable cars are used to a certain extent by commuters, their small service area and premium fares for single rides make them more of a tourist attraction.

–  San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in North America and one of “the largest Chinese communities outside Asia”. Established in the 1840s, it is a center of Chinese culture and activity in North America, offering many venues for the arts, film, music, photography and literature. Throughout this sprawling and densely populated area are gift and herbal shops, Chinese theatres, joss houses (temples), pagoda roofs, dragon parades, and well over 300 restaurants, making it a self-sustaining “city-within-a-city”. In contrast to many mixed-Asian communities today, San Francisco’s Chinatown retains its Chinese ethnic identity even after 160 years—it is one of the largest Chinese communities of its kind in the United States. It is a major tourist attraction drawing more visitors annually than the Golden Gate Bridge.


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