San Francisco overview

Energetic and free-thinking, San Fran is a small city with a big heart

San Francisco overview Golden Gate Bridge - © Elan Fleisher/Time Out
By Ros Sales

Sitting within seven square miles on a peninsula in the Pacific Ocean are dramatic cityscapes and stupendous views that are known the world over. But much as plunging hills, cable cars, and – perhaps most iconic of all – the Golden Gate Bridge, represent the city, it is the energetic, free-thinking, can-do populace that really makes the place what it is.

Money-makers & rebels

Money-making and radicalism may seem odd bedfellows, but both have been crucial in forming this city. It was the discovery of gold that transformed a sleepy trading post into a lawless boom town; silver that turned it into a cash-rich, freewheeling market place, with a small number of silver barons making huge fortunes and immigrants from all around the world vying to make a living.

Trailblazers of a different order made their mark on San Francisco in the post World War II era. In the 1950s Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and other writers of the Beat Generation issued their vision of a different America. Their ’60s successors were a new generation of rebels, the hippies, and San Francisco was the site of the epoch-making Summer of Love in 1967. A continued unwillingness to accept the status quo saw gay rights and feminist movements burgeon in the ’70s. At the same time, the area’s technical brains were hard at work on the radical technology of the future – the computer.

Bust, boom & reinvention

This city has never been afraid of new ideas. It has also been willing and able to reinvent itself – and has done so several times. No one could have predicted that the dotcom crash of the late ’90s would be followed by a tech industry revival in the noughties. Yet once again San Francisco is booming, with big construction projects such as the One Rincon Hill condominium tower and the Transbay Transit Center in progress, and regeneration in areas like Mission Bay and China Basin.

Living the good life in San Fran

San Francisco’s energy is infectious.  The city punches way above its weight with vigorous arts, culture, restaurant and nightlife scenes. Its size makes it easy to explore; an efficient public transport system helps. This is one US city where a car could be considered an encumbrance. We hope you enjoy exploring the City on the Bay as much as its residents enjoy living here.

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