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25 Things You Didn’t Know About San Francisco

Check it. Also, pay special attention to #23.

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1. The Chinese fortune cookie was invented by a Japanese resident of San Francisco.

2. Everyone’s favorite – Irish Coffee. It was perfected and popularized in the City by the Bay -bay bay.

3. Fuggetabout Lombard Street. Filbert St. between Hyde and Leavenworth Streets is the steepest—31.5 degrees!

4. San Francisco was part of Mexico until the Mexican-American War in 1848.

5. During the Depression, not a single San Francisco-based bank failed.

6. Business was so good, the city constructed the Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge during the Depression.

7. When Al Capone was held at Alcatraz, he gave regular Sunday concerts with the inmate band, the Rock Islanders. He played the banjo.

8. In 1901, the city outlawed burials. Most of its cemeteries are in Colma, Calif. There, the dead outnumber the living by over 1000 to 1.

9. The “Summer of Love” actually started in the winter. The January 1967 Human Be-In at Golden Gate Park kicked it off.

10. Never say this again because Mark Twain actually never did: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

11. The neighborhoods of Marina, Mission Bay, and Hunters Point are all built atop a landfill. Darwinism at it’s best.

12. The first bubonic plague epidemic in the continental US broke out in SF’s Chinatown in 1900.

13. As historical beginnings go, the United Nations Charter was drafted and ratified in San Francisco in 1945.

14. And as historic endings go, the Beatles gave their last full concert at Candlestick Park on August 29, 1966.

15. San Francisco was huge on the mid-century treaty circuit. In 1951, the Treaty of San Francisco officially ended Japanese hostilities from World War II.

16. When prospectors caught gold fever and hightailed it to California, San Francisco’s port became packed with abandoned ships. With demand to build the city booming, the ships were torn apart and repurposed into banks, businesses, and homes.

17. Decades later, in 1906, three quarters of the city was destroyed by an earthquake and fire.

18. Contemporary reports of the fire note that an unlikely hero helped save the city: Redwood trees. When fire hit buildings made of redwood, which has low resin content and a porous grain that takes in lots of water, they didn’t go up in smoke.

19. In September 1859, San Francisco’s favorite eccentric resident, Joshua Abraham Norton, declared himself America’s emperor.

20. Emperor Norton had a following: Nearly 30,000 people later packed the streets for his funeral. There’s a bar in the T-Loin named after him. You should go there.

21. The bear on California’s state flag is modeled after a California grizzly named Monarch, who was held at Golden Gate Park.

22. The U.S. Navy originally planned on painting the Golden Gate Bridge black with yellow stripes. The famed “International Orange” color was supposed to be a sealant.

23. In 1867, San Francisco instituted America’s first “ugly law,” which prohibited unsightly people from showing their faces in public. (It’s since been repealed.)

24. The city’s cable cars are the only National Historical Monument that can move. And they cost $6 one way, so try to hop on a free ride.

25. The Liberty Bell once vacationed in San Francisco! When San Francisco hosted the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915, America’s most famous bell made a national train tour to be part of the fun. After the exposition ended, it returned to Philadelphia, where it’s stayed ever since. Once you’ve seen San Francisco, why travel anywhere else?

Read the full text here:  —brought to you by mental_floss.

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San Francisco City Tour

Recently I had some family in town and in true form, we took San Francisco by storm! This is one of the things I love about this city — there is so many things to do, sometimes it is hard to fit it all in a short time! As a local, it’s also really fun to slow down, take a deep breath and enjoy San Francisco through the eyes of a tourist.

Day 1 began with the Tour de Ferry Building. We arrived at the busiest time, but that was quite alright given that we were all in the spirit to eat. After strolling by all of the produce outdoors, we entered through Sur La Table and made our first purchase: El Porteno Empanadas. We ordered the Fugazzeta (aged cheddar, onions, oregano) which I found tasty but not too exciting, and the Champinones (local organic mushrooms by Far West Fungi, shallots, parmesan cheese, crème fraiche) which was delicious, earthy and much more complex.

El Porteno Empanadas Stand

As we wandered along, some stopped for vegetarian spring rolls and the interestingly-flavored ICIO Water.

ICIO Water - blood orange tarragon and black currant blueberry

I, however, had my heart set on Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick. I’m a lover of all things cheese, so naturally I went for the gold: Burrata with seasonal vegetables and herbs served atop arugula with crostini and dressed with McEvoy Olive Oil. Drool. My aunt and cousin went for the grilled cheese of the day — that sandwich was very good as well.

Cowgirl Creamery's Milkshed Map

Then we hopped on the F-line and took it down to the start of our San Francisco hop-on hop-off city tour in Fisherman’s Wharf. The tour took us to all of the popular neighborhoods (Golden Gate Park, The Haight, Civic Center, SoMa, Union Square, Chinatown) and I was quite surprised by how many “fun facts” I learned about San Francisco.

Chinatown

San Francisco's breathtaking architecture

I’ve included some of them below just for funsies!

  • The Spreckels mansion is the largest house city in San Francisco – yes we all know that Miss Danielle Steel now resides in that [not so] humble abode
  • The term “Sugar Daddy” was first coined by Alma Spreckels when speaking of her husband, Adoph Spreckles, the sugar baron
  • Any house painted three or more colors is considered a “Painted Lady”
  • That is actually real gold on the City Hall dome!
  • Alma is also the model for the monument in Union Square honoring naval hero Admiral Dewey and the assassinated president William McKinley
  • Twelve faceless statues sit atop 580 California called the “Corporate Goddesses”. These faceless statues are there to remind those in the banking industry to “be honest, even when you think no one is watching”.
  • Denim was invented in San Francisco during the Gold Rush because miners needed durable clothes to wear
  • The Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall is designed to look like a baby piano from the outside – if you look closely you can see the white keys, black keys and strings inside.

City Hall

The "Corporate Goddesses"

Day 2 began with a stroll through the North Beach Festival – fairs and festivals are a really great opportunity for visitors and natives alike to get out in the sunshine, check out local vendors and people watch.

North Beach Festival from above

Street art at the festival

After we had our fill at the North Beach Festival, we hightailed it through Chinatown, down into Union Square and hopped on MUNI underground because we all had one track minds — we wanted to devour some sandwiches from Ike’s Place! Once our sandwiches were ready after a brief wait (Tom Brady with vegan breaded chicken, garlic and herb sauce, mushrooms, avocado and cheddar for me), we trekked over to Dolores Park. At the park everyone was happy to give their little feet a break at the park and enjoy the local flavor! We all know what I think about Ike’s (see Ike’s Place, Dolores Park & Bi-Rite Creamery) so no need to get into detail on how delicious they were.

After we were finished, we made our way back the hotel room to enjoy a glass of wine and some good family time before everyone had to part ways. It was amazing how much ground one can cover in a single weekend in San Francisco — also, important to note that I figured out what a walking drill sergeant I can be. So when I say “oh it’s just a couple blocks”, it really is 5-10 blocks. In my defense, San Francisco is such a walking city — you hardly even notice the distance you’ve gone when you walk by yourself! However even I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed putting my feel up for a rest, sipping red wine and surveying the rooftops from the balcony. This was the perfect way to play tour guide and show my relatives San Francisco’s best!

B.R. Cohn and Ghirardelli Chocolate - nice pairing.

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