San Francisco - History, Climate, Tourist Attractions


San Francisco is one of California's major cities and maybe one of the most beautiful in the world. It lies midway up the Pacific coast. Today, about 800,000 people live here.

San Francisco lies on over 40 small hills situated around San Francisco Bay. People live in different neighbourhoods depending on their income or where they come from. Rich people live places with old Victorian houses that overlook the bay. Families of immigrants, like Russians, Germans or Japanese live in their own communities.


San Francisco has a mild climate. Even during September, normally the hottest month, temperatures seldom rise above 22° C. In winter they hardly drop below freezing point. Mornings are often foggy, but in the afternoon it clears up most of the time.

The city was founded in 1776 when the Spanish set up a Franciscan mission there. Later on the city was named after Francis of Assisi. When gold was found in California during the late 1840s thousands of gold miners settled there and San Francisco turned into a bustling town.

Oakland Bay

Oakland Bay Map - Alexander Karnstedt (Alexrk)


On April 18, 1906 a great earthquake destroyed most of the city. A fire broke out because most houses were made of wood. It took the fire department three days to get it under control, 2000 people were killed. Rebuilding began quickly and ten years later the city celebrated its rebirth during an international exhibition.


During World War II San Francisco became a major shipbuilding centre. The port handled many passengers and a lot of cargo. As time went on, shipbuilding moved to other places along the Californian coast.

In 1989 another massive earthquake hit the city. Although many small buildings were destroyed the modern steel and concrete skyscrapers could withstand the quake.

Today San Francisco is a major banking, finance and trade centre. It produces clothes, electronic goods and food products that the farmers of nearby regions grow.


Transamerica Pyramid

The Transamerica Pyramid - Daniel Schwen


Places to See


San Francisco has a very exciting skyline with old buildings on one side and modern skyscrapers on the other.

Along the city’s waterfront lies Fisherman’s Wharf, a tourist attraction and a reminder of San Francisco’s past. It is known for its nice restaurants that offer good seafood. Not far away are the Maritime Museum and a historical park.

Chinatown is the largest Chinese community in the United States. Many people who live here today are descendants of Chinese immigrants. They came to the Pacific coast during the gold rushto find work here.

The cable car is San Francisco’s most famous symbol. It was designed to go up and down the city’s steep hills. By 1890 there was a network of over 150 km. All of the cable cars were connected to overhead power lines. Today there are only three lines left with a total of 20 km. They stay in operation mainly as a tourist attraction.

The Transamerica Pyramid is San Francisco’s most impressive building. The white office structure is 260 metres tall and looks like a thin pyramid.

Alcatraz Island, also called The Rock, lies in San Francisco Bay about 1.5 km from the coast. It was a prison which confined some of the most dangerous criminals of America. Even though it was called the safest prison in the world, a few inmates did escape from the island. The prison was closed in 1963 and today tourists can take a guided tour of the island.

Golden Gate Bridge is one of the largest bridges in the world. It spans the entrance to San Francisco Bay over a total of 2,700 metres. Towers stand on both sides of the bridge and a six lane road leads from northern California to the centre of San Francisco.




Related Topics



  • although =while
  • bustling = very busy and full of life
  • cargo = the goods that are carried on a ship or a plane
  • celebrate =to have fun and enjoy yourself
  • clear up = the clouds go away and it becomes sunny
  • community = neighbourhood
  • destroy =to damage something completely so that you cannot use it any more
  • drop = go down
  • electronic goods =products like TV sets, radios, DVD players etc...
  • fire department = the organisation that works to stop fires in a city or a town
  • exhibition =show, demonstration
  • found –founded = to make new
  • freezing point = the temperature at which water turns to ice
  • hardly = not very often
  • immigrant = a person who comes from another country and wants to live or work here
  • income = the money that you get from your work
  • lie =to be located
  • major = important
  • massive = very strong
  • midway = half of the way
  • mission = a place where people are taught about Christianity
  • port = harbour
  • situated = to be in a certain place
  • rebirth =to be born again
  • rebuilding = build again
  • rise =go up
  • seldom = not very often
  • settle = to start living in a place where no one has lived before
  • set up = here :start
  • Victorian = from the time when Victoria was the queen of England (1837—1901)
  • trade = to buy and sell goods
  • withstand = if something is strong enough so that it can’t be destroyed
  • attraction = something that is very famous and which a lot of people come to see
  • confine = to keep somebody in a place where he cannot leave or escape
  • connected =linked
  • descendant = someone who is a related to people or a family who lived a long time ago
  • designed = made
  • entrance = the way into something
  • escape = to get away from a place
  • gold rush = when people hurry to a place where gold has just been found
  • guided tour = if someone shows you around a place and tells you a lot about it
  • immigrant = a person who comes from another country and wants to live or work here
  • impressive = something you like because it is good, big or important
  • lane =path, way
  • maritime = everything that is connected to the sea or ships
  • network = a system of lines that cross each other
  • offer = give
  • overhead power lines = a wire above the ground that has electricity in it
  • prison = a place where you keep criminals
  • reminder = something that makes you remember or think about something
  • seafood = animals form the sea that you can eat
  • skyline = the outline of buildings against the sky
  • span = to go from one side to the other
  • steep =opposite of flat
  • waterfront = the part of a town that is next to a river or a sea