110 Striking Facts About San Francisco

Fun facts about San Francisco

San Francisco is one of the most recognizable cities in America. It is known for LGBT culture, Silicon Valley, beat poetry, and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Learn more about “The Golden City” with these interesting San Francisco facts. While you’re at it, also don’t miss these fun facts about California, LA, San Diego, and San Jose!

General San Francisco Facts

  • San Francisco is the 4th largest city in the US state of California.
  • It is found in the state’s northern half, roughly halfway between Los Angeles and Oregon.
  • It occupies the northern top of the San Francisco Peninsula, with the San Francisco Bay to its east, Golden Gate (a water strait) to the north, and Gulf of the Farallones (Pacific Ocean) to its west.
  • With 815,201 residents, San Francisco is the 17th largest city in the United States, putting it between Charlotte, North Carolina and Seattle, Washington in terms of population.
  • San Francisco is similar in size to Thessaloniki, Greece and Tainan, Taiwan.
  • The Greater San Francisco Area, which includes Oakland and Berkeley, has a population of 4.6 million, making it the 13th largest metropolitan area in the United States.
  • It has slightly more people than Greater Detroit in Michigan and slightly less than Riverside-San Bernardino in California.
A view of the tops of skyscrapers in San Francisco, with the ocean in the distance
San Francisco’s iconic Transamerica Pyramid skyscraper in the Financial District
  • The San Francisco Bay Area, or simply “Bay Area”, encompasses an even larger area that also includes San Jose, Silicon Valley, and 9 California counties, with a total population of 7.8 million.
  • Around 11.8% of all Californians live in the Greater San Francisco Area.
  • San Francisco has the largest population of Asians in the world outside of Asia.
  • The city sits at the same latitude as Athens, Greece.
  • The highest temperature ever recorded in San Francisco was 106°F (41.1°C) in 2017, while the lowest was −27°F (−32.8°C) in 1932.
  • San Francisco was named after a Spanish mission which was established in the area, Mission San Francisco de Asís. The mission was named after Saint Francis of Assisi, the saint known for his love of animals.
  • “San Francisco” replaced an earlier name for the city, “Yerba Buena”.
Exterior of San Francisco Hall at night lit up with blue and pink lights
San Francisco City Hall lit up in the colors of the transgender flag
  • Some common nicknames for San Francisco are San Fran (though locals don’t love this one), The City, SFC, The Golden City, Golden Gate City, Fog City, 415 (after the area code), and Frisco.
  • City slogans have included “The city that knows how” and “Everybody’s favorite city”.
  • The city has also been called “Gay Mecca”, “the gayest city in the world” and “the original gay-friendly city”. 16.6% of adults in San Fran identify as LGBT.
  • The official city slogan is “Oro en Paz, Fierro en Guerra”, which is Spanish for “Gold in Peace, Iron in War.”
  • People from San Francisco are called San Franciscans.
The official city flag of San Francisco
The San Francisco city flag
  • The San Francisco flag shows a phoenix rising from flames on a field of white, with a yellow border. A ribbon below contains the following words: “Oro en paz. Fierro en guerra,” which is Latin for “Gold in peace. Iron in war.”
  • San Francisco has 18 sister cities, including Osaka (Japan), Sydney (Australia), Haifa (Israel) and Zurich (Switzerland).

Interesting Facts about San Francisco Places

  • The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. The suspension bridge spans a one-mile-wide strait between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
  • When the bridge first opened in 1937, it was the longest and tallest suspension bridge in the world. It remains one of the world’s most photographed bridges and a symbol of the city and of California. (read these facts about Sydney Harbour Bridge, another of the world’s great bridges).
  • Around 2000 people have jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, with only about three dozen surviving.
Aerial view of Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge
  • The tallest building in San Francisco is Salesforce Tower, which has 61 floors and stands 1070 ft (330 m) tall.
  • Other iconic buildings in San Francisco include the Palace of Fine Arts, Grace Cathedral, Transamerica Pyramid, and Castro Theatre.
  • The Coit Tower has been an iconic addition to the the San Francisco skyline since 1933. The art deco styled tower rises 210 ft (64 m) from the top of Telegraph Hill. The viewing deck at the top offers 360-degree panorama views of the city and bay.
Looking down at one of the steep turns of Lombard Street, with the city visible in the background
The famously sharp turns of Lombard Street
  • Lombard Street, with its 8 hairpin turns, has been called the “crookedest street in the world.”
  • Some of the most famous areas and neighborhoods in San Francisco are Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, Castro District (the first openly gay neighborhood in America), Upper Haight (with its Summer of Love history), Mission (hello Delores Park!), and Financial District.
  • San Francisco’s Chinatown was established with the Gold Rush of 1848. It’s the oldest Chinatown in the US and the largest one in the world outside of Asia.
A street in Chinatown, San Francisco at night, with cars parked, Chinese lanterns hanging above, and business signs with Chinese characters
San Francisco’s Chinatown
  • Fortune cookies were invented in Makoto Hagiwara in San Francisco in 1914. He operated what is now called the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.
  • One of San Francisco’s most famous historic sites is Alcatraz Island, 1.25 mi (2 km) off the city’s coast in San Francisco Bay and known for operating as a penitentiary from the 1930s to the 1960s.
A few of the whole island of Alcatraz, shot from sea level, with the old prison visible
Alcatraz Island today
  • Movies filmed at Alcatraz include Catch Me If You Can, Escape from Alcatraz, The Rock, and E-Men: The Last Stand.
  • While it was considered impossible to escape from Alcatraz, 36 inmates tried, and one of them actually made it to shore before getting caught.

San Francisco Economy and Society Facts

  • San Francisco is home to eight Fortune 500 countries, including Wells Fargo, Visa, and The Gap.
Aerial view of the University of California-Berkeley campus and surrounding neighborhoods in San Francisco
The University of California-Berkeley
  • San Francisco’s crime rate is about half that of Albuquerque, New Mexico, but double that of Anaheim, California.
  • The San Francisco International Airport is the 7th busiest airport in the US. It served over 57 million passengers in 2019.
  • Some of the most popular shopping malls and centers in San Francisco include Westfield San Francisco Centre, Stonestown Galleria, Embarcadero Center, and Metreon.
  • San Francisco has 44 billionaires, who have a combined net worth of over 160 billion USD. It has more billionaires per capita than anywhere else in the world.
  • The richest person in San Francisco is Dustin Moskovitz, with a net worth of just under 18 billion USD.
  • The San Francisco Bay Area has 4 of the 10 most expensive counties in the United States.
  • The city also has a higher % of homes costing above $1 million than anywhere in the US.
Aerial view of Marina District, San Francisco, with unending houses and strip of grass along the seashore
Marina District is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in San Francisco
  • 11.7% of people in San Francisco live below the poverty line, which is actually below the national average.
  • However, extreme housing shortage has caused housing prices to skyrocket in the 2010s. The average rent in San Francisco is $3700, which is 2.5 times the national average.
  • 29% of the homeless population in San Francisco identify as LGBT.
  • 85.26% of San Franciscans voted for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
A woman showing the peace sign with rainbow Pride flags on the street behind her
Pride flags in hip Mission District
  • Movies filmed in San Francisco include Sister Act, Mrs. Doubtfire, Inside Out, Big Trouble in Little China, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Dirty Harry, The Pursuit of Happyness, and many more.
  • The Walt Disney animated film Big Hero 6 was set in a city that combined the cityscapes of San Francisco and Tokyo, Japan.
  • TV shows filmed in San Francisco include Full House, Tales of the City, That’s So Raven, Alcatraz, and Top Chef.
  • The social media giant Twitter, as well as the classifieds site Craigslist, both started and are still headquartered in San Francisco.
  • Other famous brands that started in San Francisco Bay Area include Yelp, Levi Strauss, The Gap, Del Monte Foods, It’s-It Ice Cream, Swensen’s Ice Cream, Murphy Beds (beds built into walls), and Kimpton Hotels.
  • The valley accounts for one-third of all venture capital in the US and has more co-working space than any other city.
A mosaic of things that were invented in San Francisco
Three San Francisco inventions: blue jeans, the jukebox, and bendy straws
  • San Francisco inventions include blue jeans, the jukebox, slot machines, cioppino (a kind of fish stew created by Italian-Americas), bendy straws.
  • San Francisco has three Michelin 3-star restaurants: Quince, Atelier Crenn, and Benu. Overall, the city has more Michelin star restaurants (1, 2 and 3 star) than any other US city.
  • Many believe that the craft beer phenomenon was born when Anchor Brewing of San Francisco, an old brewery first established in 1898, was purchased and revived in 1965. Today, the company also owns Sappporo Beer.

San Francisco Sports Facts

The logos of the six major sports teams from San Francisco
The six professional teams in the San Fran Bay Area
  • The San Francisco 49ers are named after the prospectors in the 1849 California Gold Rush. The are the only NFL team that is closer to a larger city (San Jose) than the city they actually play for (San Francisco).
  • The 49ers play their home games at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara in the Silicon Valley near San Jose. The stadium has also hosted the Super Bowl 50 and WrestleMania 31.
  • The 49ers have played in 7 Super Bowls, 5 of which they won.
  • 4 of the Super Bowl wins by the 49ers were led by Hall of Famers Charles Haley, Joe Montana, Fred Dean, Jerry Rice, Steve Young, Ronnie Lott, and coaches George Seifert and Bill Walsh.
  • The 49ers have been division champions 20 times between 1970 and 2019 and have been in the league playoffs 27 times (26 in the NFL and once in the AAFC).
A crowd of fans watching a 49ers game at Levi's Stadium in San Francisco
“49ers & Levi’s Stadium” by Photographing Travis is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
  • The Golden State Warriors are one of the oldest teams in the history of the NBA.
  • The Golden State Warriors play their home games at the Chase Center on the east coast of San Francisco.
  • The Golden State Warriors have won the NBA Championships six times: in 1947, 1956, 1975, 2015, 2017, and 2018.
  • The San Francisco Giants play their home games at Oracle Park (formerly AT&T Park) just north of Chase Center. The Giants have won 6 World Series championship titles.
  • The Giants were originally from New York City before moving to San Francisco. They were called the New York Giants at the time.
  • Olympic champion Jim Thorpe briefly played for the Giants.
A baseball stadium diamond with the Giant playing a game
A San Francisco Giants game
  • The San Jose Sharks play their home games at the SAP Center, which is locally known as the Shark Tank.
  • The Sharks have won the Presidents’ Trophy and advanced to the finals of the Stanley Cup on one occasion.
  • San Francisco-born Eileen Gu won two gold medals for China in freestyle skiing at the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Famous San Francisco People

  • Actors Robin Williams, Clint Eastwood, Rob Schneider, Danny Glover, and Liev Schreiber were born in San Francisco.
  • Actresses Alicia Silverstone, Margaret Cho, Leslie Mann, Dianna Agron, and Cheryl Burke were also born in San Francisco.
A mosaic of famous people from San Francisco
Famous San Franciscans Robert Frost, Bruce Lee, Clint Eastwood, Courtney Love, Steve Jobs, and MC Hammer (clockwise from top-left)
  • Famous bands that have come out of San Francisco Bay Area include Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, CCR, Sly and Family Stone, Faith No More, Dead Kennedys, Pansy Division, Metallica, Rancid, Green Day, AFI, and Tycho.
  • Musicians Courtney Love, Joe Satriani, Michael Franti, and MC Hammer were also from the Bay Area.
  • The famous beat poets first met in New York City but thrived after moving to San Francisco in the 1950s. They included Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady, William S. Burroughs, Gary Snyder, and more.
  • Robert Frost, considered one of the best poets in American history, was born in San Francisco before moving to Massachusetts.
  • Other well-known San Francisco natives include Apple founder Steve Jobs, martial artist Bruce Lee, and Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny and several other Disney characters.
A street sign that says "Jack Kerouac"
Jack Kerouac Alley in San Francisco
  • One of the most famous unsolved murder cases is that of the Zodiac Killer, who was an active serial killer in the 1960s and never identified.
  • Inventors from San Francisco include William Lawrence Murphy, Louis Glass and William S. Arnold, Charles Fey, Joseph Friedman, and Levi Strauss, and Jacob Davis.

San Francisco History Facts

  • The Ohlone-speaking Yelamu people were the original inhabitants of the San Francisco area, with a history going back 5000 years.
  • The Spanish arrived in the area overland from Mexico in 1769.
  • In 1776, Spanish colonists established the Presidio of San Francisco and Mission San Francisco de Asís. They were the northernmost missions founded by the Spanish.
The oldest mission building in San Francisco
Mission San Francisco de Assis
  • The city’s traditional founding date is June 29, 1776.
  • The city was renamed “San Francisco” from “Yerba Buena” in 1847.
  • Also in 1847, the city’s first newspaper, California Star, was first released.
  • San Francisco became part of the United States in 1848 and was incorporated in 1850.
  • The 1848 California Gold Rush led to a population boom and large increase in immigrants, with the city’s Chinatown growing into the largest in continent.
  • The city’s population reached 100,000 in the 1860s.
An old cable car still running on the street in San Francisco today
The Van Ness Ave Cable Car
  • The Central Pacific Railroad line to Oakland was completed in 1869.
  • The city’s first electric streetcar started running in 1892. Much of the San Francisco cable car and streetcar system is still running today.
  • In the 1910s, the city’s population reached half a million.
  • The San Francisco International Airport opened in 1927.
  • In 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge opened to the public.
  • In 1946, Pacific Sukiyaki Restaurant, later to become Yamato Restaurant, opened in San Francisco. It is considered the first Japanese restaurant in the US.
The street in front of departures terminal at San Francisco International Airport
San Francisco International Airport
  • San Francisco Pride began in 1972. Today, it is billed as “the largest gathering of LGBT people and allies in the nation” and one of the largest in the world.
  • Craigslist was founded in San Francisco in 1995.
  • In 2006, Twitter was established in San Fran, followed by Airbnb in 2008 and Uber in 2009.
  • In 2014, the San Francisco Giants won the World Series for their third time since the team moved from New York City.
  • In 2016, San Francisco became the first US city to pass a law that all buildings below 10 stories must have rooftop solar panels.
  • In 2018, Salesforce Tower, still the city’s tallest, was completed.
  • In 2020, COVID finally caused property rental prices in San Fran to fall.

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