Unlike almost anywhere else, San Francisco is both a city and a county. It is the financial, commercial, and cultural center of the entire Northern California region. Although its population is under a million, it is the second-most densely populated large city in the United States, and the fifth most densely populated county in the country – surpassed only by 4 of New York City’s five boroughs.
The city is both wealthy and expensive. Although it is only ranked 7th in the country for per capita personal income, at about $130,00, it is ranked highest in the world for disposable income, salaries, median rents, and home prices – the last of which is a staggering $1.7 million.
San Francisco’s history is similar, and as varied, as the other counties in the region. But it has notable eras and events of its own. The Gold Rush drove the area’s population to rapid growth, which the banking industry capitalized on. The Port of San Francisco and the Pacific Railroad opened the city to international and overland trade. Levi Strauss, of blue jeans fame, started here, as did Ghirardelli chocolates.
San Francisco has been an absolute magnet for counterculture movements in the country. The Beat Generation flourished in the fifties. Haight-Ashbury drew hippies in the sixties, culminating in the Summer of Love in 1967. The Castro section of the city became the center of the gay rights movement in the seventies.
Many of the cities neighborhoods and landmarks are famous the world over: Fisherman’s Wharf, Nob Hill, Chinatown, and Tenderloin Districts. The climate is very mild, but cool, even in the summers. There is diversity of ethnicity, race, religion, and languages in the city, and it has a minority-majority population, whites comprising less than 50% of the demographic.
In the last 20 years, San Francisco has been diversifying from its primary industries of finance and tourism, toward the growth-oriented fields of high technology, biotechnology, and medical research. The city also offers abundant cultural activities in the form of museums, performing arts, and sports. It enjoys stunning beaches and parks, as well. Cycling and walking are extremely popular in the city.
Educational opportunities abound at all levels. Particularly notable is the Preschool for All program, which gives universal access to all 4-year-old San Francisco residents. All in all, San Francisco is a world-class city with much to offer those who are fortunate enough to live there.