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File: San Francisco

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Uploaded:
04.05.12
Modified:
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San Francisco CityscapeSan Francisco, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the San Francisco Bay Area, a region of 7.5 million people which includes San Jose and Oakland.

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The only consolidated city-county in California, it encompasses a land area of about 46.9 square miles (121 km2) on the northern end of the San Francisco Peninsula, giving it a density of about 17,179 people per square mile (6,632 people per km2). It is the most densely settled large city (population greater than 200,000) in the state of California and the second-most densely populated large city in the United States after New York City. San Francisco is the fourth most populous city in California and the 13th most populous city in the United States, with a population of 805,235 as of the 2010 Census. The San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont metropolitan area has a population of 4,335,391.

In 1776, colonists from Spain established a fort at the Golden Gate and a mission named for Francis of Assisi on the site. The California Gold Rush of 1849 propelled the city into a period of rapid growth, increasing the population in one year from 1,000 to 25,000, and thus transforming it into the largest city on the West Coast at the time. After three-quarters of the city was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire, San Francisco was quickly rebuilt, hosting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition nine years later. During World War II, San Francisco was the port of embarkation for service members shipping out to the Pacific Theater. After the war, the confluence of returning servicemen, massive immigration, liberalizing attitudes, and other factors (Vietnam) led to the Summer of Love and the gay rights movement, cementing San Francisco as a center of liberal activism in the United States.

Today, San Francisco is one of the top tourist destinations in the world, ranking 35th out of the 100 most visited cities worldwide, and is renowned for its chilly summer fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of architecture, and its famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, and Chinatown. The city is also a principal banking and finance center, and the home to more than 30 international financial institutions, helping to make San Francisco rank 18th in the world's top producing cities, 8th in the United States, and 12th place in the top twenty global financial centers.

Though located 13 miles (21 km) south of downtown in unincorporated San Mateo County, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is under the jurisdiction of the City and County of San Francisco. SFO is a hub for United Airlines, its largest tenant, and serves as Virgin America's principal base of operations. SFO is a major international gateway to Asia and Europe, with the largest international terminal in North America. In 2011, SFO was the 8th busiest airport in the U.S. and 22nd busiest in the world, handling over 40.9 million passengers.

Located across the bay, Oakland International Airport is a popular, low-cost alternative to SFO. Geographically, Oakland Airport is approximately the same distance from downtown San Francisco as SFO, but due to its location across San Francisco Bay, it is greater driving distance from San Francisco.

The Port of San Francisco was once the largest and busiest seaport on the West Coast. It featured rows of piers perpendicular to the shore, where cargo from the moored ships was handled by cranes and manual labor and transported to nearby warehouses. The port handled cargo to and from trans-Pacific and Atlantic destinations, and was the West Coast center of the lumber trade. The 1934 West Coast Longshore Strike, an important episode in the history of the American labor movement, brought most ports to a standstill.

The advent of container shipping made pier-based ports obsolete, and most commercial berths moved to the Port of Oakland and Port of Richmond. A few active berths specializing in break bulk cargo remain alongside the Islais Creek Channel.

Many piers remained derelict for years until the demolition of the Embarcadero Freeway reopened the downtown waterfront, allowing for redevelopment. The centerpiece of the port, the Ferry Building, while still receiving commuter ferry traffic, has been restored and redeveloped as a gourmet marketplace. The port's other activities now focus on developing waterside assets to support recreation and tourism.

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