What You Need To Know
San Francisco officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the cultural, commercial, and financial center of Northern California and the only consolidated city-county in California. San Francisco is the fourth-most populous city in California, after Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose, and the 13th-most populous city in the United States.
A popular tourist destination, San Francisco is known for its cool summers, fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of architecture, and landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, the former Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, Fisherman’s Wharf, and its Chinatown district. San Francisco is also the headquarters of five major banking institutions and various other companies such as Levi Strauss & Co., Gap Inc., Salesforce.com, Dropbox, Reddit, Square, Inc., Dolby, Airbnb, Weebly, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Yelp, Pinterest, Twitter, Uber, Lyft, Mozilla, Wikimedia Foundation, and Craigslist. It has several nicknames, including “The City by the Bay”, “Fog City”, “San Fran”, and “Frisco”, as well as older ones like “The City that Knows How”, “Baghdad by the Bay”, “The Paris of the West”, or simply “The City”. As of 2015, San Francisco was ranked high on world livability rankings.
Population: 837,442 (2013)
Area: 46.87 mi²
The United States dollar sign: $; code: USD; also abbreviated US$ and referred to as the dollar, U.S. dollar, or American dollar is the official currency of the United States and its insular territories. It is divided into 100 smaller cent (¢) units. The circulating paper money consists of Federal Reserve Notes.
San Francisco has a mild climate, with cool, wet winters and dry summers. In most months, you can expect the high temperature to be in the upper 50s, 60s or low 70s degree Fahrenheit (15-25°C). However, these mild temperature readings belie a unique climate not shared by other major cities in the state or country. Essentially San Francisco is never warmer than 73 degrees but never colder than 50 degrees. The nights are chilly so usually people in San Francisco always carry around a light jacket because the temperatures can drop or rise drastically within an hour.
Summer days usually start out under fog, slowly burning off towards the ocean into a sunny albeit windy afternoon. Measurable precipitation during the summer months is rare, although light drizzle is possible. Humidity is very constant, but rarely uncomfortable.
n the winter, the rainy season is in full swing. That being said, the chances for a calm, windless, sunny day are actually higher in the winter than in the summer! However, the overall temperatures are going to be lower in the winter.
As of 2010, 55% of San Francisco residents spoke English at home as a primary language, while 19% spoke a variety of Chinese (mostly Taishanese and Cantonese), 12% Spanish, 3% Tagalog, and 2% Russian. In total, 45% of San Francisco’s population spoke a mother language other than English.
As with many other major cities in the world, San Francisco has its share of problems. Pickpocketing, purse snatching, and other forms of petty crime are common as with any other large city. Be especially cautious on crowded Muni trains and buses, in heavily touristed areas such as Fisherman’s Wharf, and during the busy holiday shopping season.
Do not leave valuables in your vehicle, especially when parking on public streets. Car break-ins are very common in San Francisco, and any valuables in plain sight are in danger of being stolen. During your visit, you will probably see small piles of broken glass on sidewalks throughout the city, which are the result of such crimes. If you cannot carry all valuables with you, try to keep them in the trunk and park your vehicle in secure parking garages, which are slightly safer than street parking but are not completely free from crime either.
San Francisco has a diversified service economy, with employment spread across a wide range of professional services, including financial services, tourism, and (increasingly) high technology. In 2012, approximately 25% of workers were employed in professional business services; 16% in government services; 15% in leisure and hospitality; 11% in education and health care; and 9% in financial activities. In 2013, GDP in the five-county San Francisco metropolitan area was US$388.3 billion.
San Francisco has one of the most comprehensive public transportation systems in the United States, arguably the most comprehensive system west of Chicago. Transport services within San Francisco are provided by several bodies; they are separate organizations and although they have many interchange stations, tickets are not normally transferable across the system.
MUNI/San Francisco Municipal operates buses, trains, cable cars & the F-line heritage streetcar. The MUNI buses remain above ground while MUNI metro runs on rails and sometimes go underground. Bus stops come in many forms; small bus shelters, yellow paint on street poles, and white paint on streets. Metro stops can be found on an island in the middle of the street and stations. Using the Metro Map, find the nearest metro to your locations.
Cable Cars and street cars are San Francisco’s historical cars and run along cables that are affixed to the street. Cable Cars are located downtown and run on three lines; Powell-Hyde, Powell-Mason, and California St. The F-Line Street Car runs up and down Market St. all the way to Fisherman’s Wharf. For these, you may pay the conductor on board or purchase tickets at multiple locations.
Taxis in San Francisco are, for a large city, surprisingly inefficient and expensive. You can get an idea of how much particular taxi trips cost in San Francisco using the San Francisco Taxicab Commission’s webpage.
Ride Sharing is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to taxi cab services in San Francisco, offering an arguably friendlier and more reliable service at a cheaper price. Programs including Lyft, Sidecar, Uber and Carma involve downloading their mobile application to request a ride. Programs such as Sidecar, Lyft, and Uber’s “UberX” utilize local drivers, and Uber also offers a more up-scale service, providing town cars and luxury SUVs at a premium price. The local drivers whom drive for Sidecar, Lyft, etc. usually do not have a taxi license. They are residents who own cars and are looking for an extra income on the side.