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San Francisco Information

Since its founding, San Francisco has been shaped by a series of monumental events. The city's famous bay was accidentially discovered in 1769 by Spanish sailor Gaspar de Portola. His destination lay elsewhere, so it was not until 1775 that another Spaniard, Juan Ayala, thoroughly explored the bay. Ayala immediately recognized the bay's strategic usefulness, and colonialists quickly descended on the spot.

By 1776, about 30 Spanish speaking families had settled by the bay, making their headquarters at the Presidio. Back then, the Presidio was an adobe fortress. On the site today, visitors will find a park and numerous historical attractions. When Mexico broke away from Spain in 1821, shipping became a major industry for California's ports and San Francisco began to grow. However, it was not until 1848 and the Gold Rush that San Francisco truly became a city. Difficult economic times in Europe and the eastern United States made San Francisco and California gold sound like a dream come true. The trickle of new settlers quickly became a flood and the city welcomed arrivals from all around the world. Many of these ethnic groups left identifiable stamps on the city's landscape that are still apparent and, in fact, draw many tourists to the city still.

The fortunes of San Francisco waxed and waned over the next few decades, and it wasn't until the earthquake and Great Fire of 1906 that San Francisco underwent another massive transformation. The city burned for three days. Combined with the destruction of the earthquake, a whole new city needed to be constructed on the ruins of the old. The city would emerge revitalized, hosting the Panama Pacific International Exhibition in 1915 and wholeheartedly joining in the efforts of winning World War II. Still, San Francisco wasn't in the mood to settle. In the 1950s, it was a central location for the Beats. The 1960s brought the hippie movement while the 1970s focused on gay rights. San Francisco was definitely living up to its reputation as a center for revolution and agitation.

Things in San Francisco have become rather more settled in recent years with residents riding the boom and bust of the dot.com bubble and most everyone recognizing the city as a cosmopolitan destination. Much of the city has been renovated and refurbished, showing off its long and colorful history while giving the modern era its due.

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