Before it was renamed to San Francisco, this small city by the bay was called Yerba Buena. Yerba Buena means, “Good herb” in Spanish. It was founded in 1776, but renamed in 1846. Portsmouth Square in Chinatown was the location of the public square in Yerba Buena.
SF has the second largest Chinatown outside of Asia. It’s also the oldest in North America. It is around one mile long by one and a half miles wide. More than 100,000 people live in Chinatown. It’s the most densely populated neighborhood in the city.
SF also has the largest and oldest Japantown in the United States. It’s also one of only three Japantown’s still that remain in the US.
The Asian Art Museum has pieces of art from around 221 BC. You will find them in the China exhibit.
The city is built on more than 50 hills. Many believe it only has 7 or 9 hills, but there are a total of more than 50 named hills. Some of the most well known are Russian Hill, Nob Hill, Telegraph Hill, and Twin Peaks. A few of the lesser known ones are Golden Mine Hill, Excelsior Heights, and Tank Hill.
Many believe the waters of the SF Bay are filled with dangerous sharks but there aren’t actually any man-eating sharks in the bay. While there are sharks that live in the bay, most are small and not very dangerous. There are numerous great white sharks that live close by in the Pacific Ocean, but they rarely make their way into the bay. (Although a great white was spotted feeding in the SF Bay and caught on camera for the first time in October 2015!)
SF is home to the largest competition of American wines in the world. The annual Chronicle Wine Competition is held every February. You can sample the winners and other entrants at the public tasting held a few weeks after the winners are announced.
In addition to loving wine, the locals also love independent films. SF is home to more than 50 film festivals each year. Some are large international festivals. Others are smaller with a very focused film offering such as the Greek Film Festival, the Jewish Film Festival, and the American Indian Film Festival.
You are not allowed to bury your dead within the city limits. Because of this restriction, only two cemeteries remain. One is behind the Mission San Francisco de Asis. The other is the National Cemetery in the Presidio. In 1902, the board of supervisors voted to stop all burials within the city limits due to space issues. To make more room, they then decided to move the current graves down to Colma. This move took place between the 1920s and the 1940s.
The first electric TV was invented in SF in 1927 by Philio Farnsworth. His working lab was at 202 Green Street.
The United Nations Charter was signed in San Francisco. It was signed in the War Memorial and Performing Arts Center in the Civic Center District on June 26, 1945.