15 Fascinating San Francisco Facts You Might Never Heard Before

Have you ever been to California? Do you know what the capital of that state is? People from abroad who are unfamiliar with the states and cities in the US might know Los Angeles since it is the famous icon of California. But actually, Los Angeles it is not the capital. It is San Fransisco! It is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States, also famous as the Pearl of California by many. If you are curious to know more about the iconic city of San Francisco, then you might want to know more about San Francisco facts below.

This beautiful place comes with a long history; San Francisco has grown together with extraordinary population dynamics. There are a lot of stories, harmony, and romance in San Francisco that you also need to know. Some of them do not exist in other cities in America. Without further ado, here are 15 fascinating San Francisco facts you might never have heard of (but now you’ll know).

1. The Golden Harbor and Chinese Population 

San Francisco Facts

Since the Europeans came to San Francisco, this city became America’s maritime trade center. Its location is shaped by the entrance to the vast natural harbor. In 1849 the town experienced a gold rush that made it the most important and largest population center, commercial area, Naval Military, and financial center in the West of America.

Initially, the gold rush began when James W. Marshall found a nugget of gold in the American River while building a sawmill for John Sutter, an agricultural expert. The gold rush started in January and was heard throughout the Asian continent.

In 1848, the first ship from China arrived in San Francisco, initiating what is popularly referred to as the California Gold Rush phenomenon in United States history. The explosion of Chinese miners in San Francisco was caused by a crop failure in South China. Many miners forced the United States government at that time to stop Chinese citizens from immigrating to Uncle Sam’s country.

2. Hill City

San Francisco Facts

The city of San Francisco is located on hilly land; one of the nicknames of this city is the ‘hill city. It is one of the most stunning San Francisco facts that there are 50 hills throughout this city, and San Francisco is the second most hilly city in the world after the city of La Paz in Bolivia.

City conditions are hilly, making the streets in this city go up and down following the contours of the land. Some roads have a reasonably steep slope. One of the most rugged streets is Lombard Street. The slope of this road reaches 27 degrees; can you imagine how steep the road is?

3. The Winding Road

San Francisco Facts

Before 1920, Lombard Street was still a steep and straight street. This condition did not cause problems for residents at that time. But things changed when the car was invented. Due to the steep road, which is very dangerous for cars to pass, vehicles are not allowed to pass the road.

Of course, this condition is not beneficial for the residents. You can imagine how difficult it is for them to park the car. This condition also causes housing prices to be lower than in other areas.

The house residents asked the city planning office to solve the problem. A few months after this issue became a big problem, an architect named Clyde Healy designed a winding road. The bend managed to reduce the road’s steepness to 16 degrees so cars could pass safely.

4. Classic Elite Property in the US

San Francisco Facts

Victorian design is one of the classic architectural styles, and it typically has a timeless interior. The splendor, elegance, uniqueness, and the use of attractive colors are the attractions that make Victorian style have its fans even though the times have changed.

This Victorian complex contains more than 40,000 homes and is located in San Francisco. However, the 1906 earthquake destroyed many of these colorful houses. But, there are still areas of Victorian houses that are still intact today.

One of them is Postcard Row or Painted Ladies, a row of colorful Victorian-style dwellings in San Francisco, United States. This real estate was built by Matthew Kavanaugh in 1890 and is classified as an expensive property category in the United States.

5. One of The Most Expensive Cities in the US

San Francisco Facts

San Francisco, especially the Bay Area, is widely famous as one of the most desirable cities in the United States. The views are stunning, the weather is cool all year round, and the people are as diverse as anywhere else in America.

But, the downside is that the Bay Area is one of the most expensive places to live in the United States. Rent, transportation, and even food are much more costly in San Francisco than in other locations. Rents in San Francisco are increasing rapidly.

As of January 2020, one-bedroom apartments in the city are open for rent for about $3,500, while the median across all homes is $4,300. If you go to Michigan, 1,000 USD per month can already rent a house.

6. Lots of Cheap Tourist Destinations

San Francisco Facts

The fact of San Francisco is the most expensive town in the United States is true. But this city offers a lot of destinations that you can visit even for only 0 USD. The Palace of Fine Arts is an example. It was initially built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific Exposition. Everyone can visit this place every day but make sure there is no wedding day when you visit. 

The other destination is De Young Museum, where every person can see the art in real life with free entry every Saturday. If you love to socialize and enjoy the weather in the afternoon, Sundown movie is a great choice to watch free movies in the vast public area.

Bring your carpet, matt, snacks, or bean bag to enjoy the movie and weather. Other places in San Francisco that you can go to for 0 USD are the City Hall of San Francisco, Queen Wilhelmina Garden, United States National Historic Sites, and San Francisco Botanical Garden. 

7. The Chinese Fortune Cookie was Invented in San Francisco

San Francisco Facts

Fortune cookies are famous snacks in the United States. In San Francisco, you can buy it in a Chinese restaurant. You might not believe that this cake originated from Japan, and it’s the first Asian snack that landed in the United States.

With so many versions of the origin of fortune cookies, it involves three different countries: Japan, China, and the United States. As one of the San Francisco facts, we can conclude that it was first made in Japan, introduced in Chinese restaurants, and became popular in the United States.

8. Home to the Oldest Chinatown in North America

San Francisco Facts

The Chinese immigrant came to San Francisco to find gold. That was the first time the Chinese came to North America and created a little community area for themselves. Established in 1848, the Chinatown in San Francisco is the oldest in North America. Measuring one mile in length and half a mile wide, it is also the second largest Chinatown outside of Asia.

A small area on Grant Avenue and Stockton Street significantly influences North America’s Chinese culture and history. The San Francisco facts about this Chinatown is an enclave that still retains its customs, language, place of worship, social club, and identity.

9. Golden Gate Park is Bigger Than Central park

San Francisco Facts

The most famous and iconic Central Park in New York City is smaller than San Francisco’s glorious Golden Gate Park by 20%. Central Park in New York covers 778 acres, while Golden Gate Park is 1017 acres.

Another thing from these San Francisco facts is that Golden Gate Garden has 16 attractions such as the Botanical Garden, California Academy of Sciences, Conservatory of Flowers, De Young Museum, Dutch Windmill, Japanese Tea Garden, etc. This park also has more than five lakes. 

10. The Golden Gate Bridge Color 

The Golden Gate Bridge Color 

One of the San Francisco facts that might make you startled is the color of The Golden. Back in the day, the United States Navy wanted the bridge to have black and yellow paint. But Irving and Gertrude Morrow, as the architect, wanted to paint the bridge red.

The reason is that red is more suitable in all aspects. But internationally, we all know that the Golden Gate is the famous and iconic orange bridge. 

11. Alcatraz Island from Jail Open to Tourists

Alcatraz Island from Jail Open to Tourist

Alcatraz has a long and complex history. It served as a military stronghold and a notorious prison until it came under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service in 1972. Like the other San Francisco facts, Alcatraz opened to visitors in 1973, and was a huge success. The island became the most popular tourist attraction in the San Francisco Bay Area, with 50,000 visitors in the first year.

Today, nearly 1.4 million tourists depart from Pier 33 to cross the bay and explore the island. Among all destinations, Cell buildings are the most visited. The location was between the walls where Al Capone and Robert Stroud were later executed.

12. Bay to Breakers

Bay to Breakers

Everyone knows Halloween is a perfect time to put your scariest and unique costume on the show. But have you ever heard about a running event where every participant should wear a unique costume? You’ll only be able to see that in San Francisco.

Bay to Breakers is a unique running competition held once in a year. You have to use an ‘unusual’ outfit such as waitress clothes or bring unique attributes, cute accessories, and many more. Using a costume for a run may not be comfortable, but Bay to Breakers is a fun event. We don’t have to be serious as long as we are happy and meet new friends!

13. The City Built on Old Ships

San Francisco Was Built on Old Ships

The California Gold Rush changed everything. A lot of people around the world go to San Francisco to mine gold. Once arrived, they abandoned their ships with hopes of striking it rich in the goldfields.

Because real estate in San Francisco was at the premium price then (still, even now), the ships changed their function as jails, houses, or hotels. Some of them got rotten, sank in the harbor, or burned in the fire of 1851. Enterprising speculators just built things right on top of the sunken ships.

14. San Franciscans Moving

San Franciscans Moving

The next San Francisco fact that we can see is the increasing outward migration during the pandemic. Of all the states, Montana saw the biggest increase in welcoming new San Franciscans to the city during the COVID-19 pandemic, then followed by Utah.

The number of San Franciscans entering Montana and Utah increased 140% and 86%, respectively, compared to the pre-pandemic period. By sheer numbers, New York, Texas, and Washington welcome the most ex-San Franciscans during the pandemic. They are always welcome back when they are ready to return. 

15. It Hasn’t Always Been Named San Francisco

It Hasn’t Always Been Named San Francisco

Long before the city was known as San Francisco, it was originally named Yerba Buena by the Native Americans who already lived there. The name Yerba Buena comes from the plant name, which means good herb that grew in abundance around the area surrounding San Francisco Bay.

In January 1847, people stopped using Yerba Buena as the city name and replaced it with San Francisco. After signing the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, San Francisco officially became part of the United States.

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