Nowhere in America emits history quite like San Francisco. With everything from cable cars and Victorian houses to the Golden Gate Bridge as well as the world’s most famous prison, it’s a hot-bed of history and culture.
With a society just as diverse as its history, this is one of the most unique cities in the world. But how did it get this way? Let us take you on a little trip down memory lane, to see what shaped San Francisco.
The Gold Rush
So San Francisco has been around a while, quite a while in fact, but it was the Gold Rush of the 1800s that kick started the city we love today. After the first gold was discovered in 1848, the area soon became legend, with the city’s population increasing from 1,000 to 25,000 in a single year as the gold race was on. San Fran was well on its way to becoming a force to be reckoned with.
The Paris of the West
With everyone becomming a little gold obsessed, of course it began to run out, but luckily there was something else in San Fran; silver. It was at this time the area expanded, creating new neighbourhoods, the Golden Gate Park and introducing the famous cable cars. Victorian houses also made their way over, and still stand to this day painted in a rainbow of different colours. Major city status was calling.
Earthquake and Reconstruction
In 1906 tragedy struck as an earthquake and fire devastated approximately 80% of the city. Not to hang around, those living in San Francisco began planning the reconstruction of the city almost immediately. This disaster has actually given us much of the landscape that we see and love today; with wider streets being created alongside a new subway under Market Street, a friendlier Fisherman’s Wharf and the Coit Tower, amongst other beautiful design elements.
The Beat Generation
Fast forward 50 years and you get what many consider the ‘San Francisco Renaissance’, where the famous culture began. As writers such as Mark Twain descended on the city, the area became the centre of a bohemian cultural boom, as the beatnik counterculture flourished. This was the starting point for some of the greatest cultural movements in history.
The Summer of Love
As the 60s began, the beatniks gave birth to the psychedelic, peace loving hippie generation. This ultimately reached it pinnacle during 1967’s ‘Summer of Love’ where as many as 10,000 people descended upon the corners of Haight Street and Ashbury Avenue (known just as Haight-Ashbury), where the sexual revolution, political diversity, equality and alternative music blended to permanently change this city forever. To this day the diverse and free loving feel of that summer can be felt throughout the city’s neighbourhoods.
The Gay Liberation
In a ricochet effect that began with the beatniks, the diversity of the hippie movement gave rise to San Francisco’s gay liberation movement. The area soon became highly populated with those in the LGBT community, with many living in an around the Castro District, where Harvey Milk became the first openly gay official. The city now hosts the world’s largest annual Gay Pride Parade, which has been running since the 1970s. The LGBT population is said to be around 15% of the city’s total inhabitants.
The Dot-Com Boom
Following the melting pot of cultural diversity that occurred over nearly 40 years, a seemingly overnight sensation hit San Fran in the 90s; the dot-com boom. Yes as the world began its digital transition, many entrepreneurs and computer software professionals moved into the city, which brought with it a negative effect, with rising rent prices forcing many who lived there to leave. It was felt that the city’s history of free-thinking, artistic types were being driven out due to money issues.
Dot-Com Dip & Tourism
However the dot-com boom dipped into the 2000s and tourism began to rise, as many converged on the city from across the globe to experience its historical significance and wildly diverse culture. The city’s population and rent also dipped for a while. But with the dot-com boom 2.0 coming along, with internet and software companies like Twitter setting up home; many are wondering what will happen to the artistic, free thinking, diverse atmosphere that once filled these streets.
Only time will tell what San Francisco will look like in the next 50 years. But with a landscape still as diverse as ever, and the creative side still blossoming in a new way, it’s clear that the city by the bay is one of the world’s most diverse, exciting and free loving places to visit.