Discovering our World

Travel, beauty, fashion, style and lifestyle blog by Ashley Liddle

San Francisco – short history and curiosities

San Francisco is one of the most recognizable cities in America that is definitely worth visiting during a trip to the United States. You will find here not only famous symbols such as the Golden Gate Bridge, steep streets and Alcatraz prison, but also interesting history and beautiful nature. We often forget that the history of North America did not just begin with European colonizers. Evidence for a human presence in San Francisco today dates back to three thousand years B.C. The first Native Americans settled there because of the richness of plants and animals. The tribe that inhabited the coastal areas of San Francisco today was called the Yelamu. It wasn’t until the second half of the 18th century that the Spaniards appeared here, and the American history of San Francisco began in 1846.

The city’s history and development as a center of maritime trade have been shaped by its location at the entrance to a large, natural harbor. San Francisco is the name of the city and county; both have the same limits. Initially only slightly settled by Europeans and Americans, in 1849 it became the base for the gold rush and the largest and most important population, trade, maritime and financial center in the American West. San Francisco was devastated by the great earthquake and fire in 1906, but was quickly rebuilt. in 1914 the Federal Reserve Branch was opened and in the first half of the twentieth century San Francisco developed as a major business city. Beginning in the second half of the 1960s, San Francisco became the city best known thanks to the hippie movement.

In recent decades, San Francisco has developed into an important financial and technological center. High demand for housing, caused by the proximity of the Silicon Valley, and limited availability have made the city one of the most expensive places to live in America.

Early history

The earliest Europeans to reach San Francisco were a Spanish discovery group led overland from Mexico by Dona Gaspar de Portolá and Fra. Joan Crespí in 1769, the Spaniards considered this location with a natural harbor of great strategic importance. Another expedition led by Juan Bautista de Anza in 1774 resulted in the founding of the Presidio San Francisco for military purposes and the San Francisco de Asís Mission, which began the cultural and religious conversion of some 10,000 Ohlones living in the area. The mission was named Mission Dolores because of its proximity to the Our Lady of Sorrows stream.

Yerba Buena

That was the name of the first settlement that was established in the area of ​​today’s San Francisco. Yerba Buena was a port town for ships bound for the American West Coast. The name comes from a plant that grew in the neighboring areas and was a herb used by the indigenous people of the region.

The city’s current name derives from the name of the first mission, and Yerba Buena has become the name of the neighborhood now known as South of the Market Square.

San Francisco became part of the United States with the signing of the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty in 1848.

Interesting facts:

“No” to cemeteries

Already at the beginning of the 20th century, the city decided to suspend burials within the city limits, which was due to the limited space. For this reason, some of the graves already existing in San Francisco were moved to the periphery. Of the thirty existing cemeteries, only two remain today. Colma, a town on the outskirts of the city, became the cemetery of San Francisco. Today there are more people dead (over two million) than alive (around 1700).

Color of the Golden Gate Bridge

Everyone has certainly seen the famous Golden Gate Bridge, whether in the picture, on the Internet or in the movie. Its characteristic color today was not the city’s intention. The officially chosen one is called International Orange and it is a shade of orange. Initially, the paint used was to be only a protective base for steel while selecting the final color.


On April 18, 1906, a 7.9 earthquake occurred in California, which surprised residents just after five in the morning. The losses were enormous, and most of them were caused by fires that spread across San Francisco. Over 3/4 of the city was destroyed then, and over 3,000 people were killed.

The size of the city

San Francisco, one of the icons of the United States, has less than 900,000 inhabitants, which gives the city the fourth position in the state of California. The entire San Francisco Bay Area is a different story – more than 7 million people live there.

Cable cars

The San Francisco cable cars (so-called “Cable Cars”) are the last trams in the world to be operated by a manually operated cable car system. Today there are only three lines in the city, but they are still very popular with tourists. The most famous routes are the Powell-Hyde and Powell-Mason, which start in the city center and end near the famous Fisherman Wharf. As you drive towards the bay, you can admire the famous Alcatraz prison from the mainland.

Musical gangster

When visiting San Francisco, a must visit to the famous Alcatraz prison is a must. As you listen to more amazing stories as you explore the prison, remember this fact: Al Capone played banjo for the Rock Islanders prison band.

Pelican Island

The name of the legendary Alcatraz comes from the Spanish name for brown pelicans. The first European captain to reach this area named the island La Isla de los Alcatraces – the Pelican Island. As in many cases, Americans decided to simplify the name and simply called it Alcatraz. Today, when the prison is empty, the birds are once again the main inhabitants of the island.

Prohibition of showing in public with “ugly face”

In 1867, San Francisco passed an extremely strange law. According to it, people who were considered ugly were not allowed to show their faces in public. The definition said that “any person who is sick, maimed, injured or deformed in any way and whose appearance is unsightly or disgusting” must not appear in public. San Francisco was not the only city in the US to implement this terrible law – Denver, Chicago and New Orleans were on the infamous list, among others.

The Beatles

San Francisco was the site of The Beatles’ last concert at Candlestick Park in August 1966. Due to the bad weather and the unfortunate choice of the arena, only half of the seats sold out, despite the fact that the ticket price was very low. The fans did not have a clue of the band’s decision at the time.

Levi’s 501

The famous Levi’s jeans were created in San Francisco during the gold rush for miners who needed comfortable and durable clothes. The brand was founded in 1853 by the German immigrant Levi Strauss who moved from Bavaria to San Francisco. In the city, you will still find the headquarters of the famous brand – Levi’s Plaza.

Fortune cookies

The famous fortune cookies were popularized in San Francisco! The idea came to California from Japan and was soon taken over by the Chinese population of the state. The Japanese could not do it on their own because they were sent to camps during World War II.