San Francisco, California

Yerba Buena was the original name of the Spanish settlement that would later become San Francisco, California. San Francisco gets approximately 16 million visitors a year. San Francisco is one of California’s major cities and maybe one of the most beautiful in the world. It lies midway up the Pacific coast.

The city was founded in 1776 when the Spanish set up a Franciscan mission there. Later on the city was named after Francis of Assisi. When gold was found in California during the late 1840s thousands of gold miners settled there and San Francisco turned into a bustling town.

Colorful Street Houses in Alamo Square San Francisco
Colorful Street Houses in Alamo Square San Francisco

Though the gold itself was discovered to the east in the Sierra Mountains and its foothills, the money was spent in San Francisco. The population of San Francisco was less than 400 in 1847. In July of 1846 Yerba Buena was just 11 years old, a sleepy hamlet in Mexican territory with just about 200 residents. By the end of 1849 there were between 20,000 and 25,000 residents (most of them men). By 1860 there were over 56,000 people.

Lombard Street San Francisco
Lombard Street San Francisco

Nearly half a million people lived in San Francisco, on the morning of April 18, 1906, when a massive earthquake shook it, the quake lasted less than a minute, its immediate impact was disastrous. The earthquake also ignited several fires around the city that burned for three days and destroyed nearly 500 city blocks. Despite a quick response from San Francisco’s large military population, the city was devastated.

The River Bridge in SanFrancisco
The River Bridge in SanFrancisco

The earthquake and fires killed an estimated 3,000 people and left half of the city’s 400,000 residents homeless. In a stroke of terrible luck, the earthquake also broke the water mains that served a city where most residences were made of wood, and dozens of fires erupted even as the shaking subsided. For the next four days, San Francisco burned.

Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco at Sunset
Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco at Sunset

In a show of resilience and civic pride, the city not only rebuilt itself, it invited the world to visit as the host of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition. In fact, rubble from the 1906 earthquake was used to create the land needed for the site of the exposition’s impressive structures. On the ashes of the past, the city rose again.

The San Francisco street skyline
The San Francisco street skyline

There are countless things to do in San Francisco. Even the most jaded locals never tire of admiring iconic landmarks like the sweeping span of the Golden Gate Bridge. Crammed with top-notch restaurants, artisanal coffee shops, sidewalk cafés, unusual and excellent museums, pocket gardens, hidden stairways, and eclectic shops, the city invites exploration. From Alcatraz to vintage streetcars, the iconic San Francisco attractions lure nearly 16 million visitors every year.