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San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It is located on the northern tip of a peninsula and is approximately square in shape, roughly 7 miles (11 km) square. San Francisco is surrounded by water on three sides, the San Francisco Bay to the east, the Golden Gate and the Marina to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.
As of 2006, the population of San Francisco was 744,041, making it the 14th largest city in the United States. Its population density is the second largest in the country, beat only by New York City. The San Francisco metropolitan area, also known as the Bay Area or Greater San Francisco, consists the nine counties surrounding the San Francisco Bay and also includes San Jose and Oakland. With over 7 million people, the Bay Area is the fifth largest metropolitan area in the country.
San Francisco is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Over 15 million visitors a year visit the City By the Bay. Popular tourist attractions in the city include Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf, the Embarcadero Center, the Financial District, Golden Gate Park, the Presidio, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Haight-Ashbury district, Alcatraz Island, and Lombard Street.
- In 1776, the Spanish established the first fort and mission in San Francisco.
- In 1821, San Francisco became part of Mexico, following Mexico's independence from Spain.
- In 1846, during the Mexican-American War, the United States claimed the city.
- In 1852, Ghirardelli began operating his chocolate factory.
- Also in 1852, the Wells Fargo Bank began its operation.
- In 1873, the city's first cable car began its route on Clay Street.
- In 1906, the San Francisco Earthquake and the subsequent fire killed several thousand residents and nearly destroyed the city.
- In 1915, the Palace of Fine Arts, which now houses the Exploratorium, was completed as part of the Panama-Pacific Exhibition.
- In 1936, the Bay Bridge was completed.
- In 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge was completed.
- During the 1950s, the Beat Generation of writers moved to the North Beach district.
- During the 1960s, hippies flocked to the Haight-Ashbury district, culminating in the Summer of Love in 1967.
- During the 1970s, a large gay population moved to Castro Village and other areas of the city.
- In 1978, Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated.
- In 1989, the Loma Prieta Earthquake killed several hundred residents and caused extensive property damage.
- During the late 1990s, several internet startup companies opened in the city.
One thing San Francisco is known for is its chilling fog, caused by evaporation of water from the ocean and the bay. Mark Twain commented on the fog, remarking that "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." Summer highs are in the 60s and lows are in the 50s, so if you come during the summer, make sure to bring a jacket or sweater! San Francisco also experiences microclimates, so the temperature can vary rather drastically from place to place within the city or from time to time during the day.