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Five San Francisco Fun Facts You Might Not Know About

May 14, 2018
by Shannon Meyer

Any local will tell you that San Francisco is such a melting pot of cultures, cuisine, and iconic sites that it is hard to envision visiting the city with just a trip to the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. There is really more to the bays, beaches, and bridges.

We’re closer than we think to the other side of the Pacific Ocean from The Golden City. Not only is diverse culture, food and traditions deeply and widely celebrated here in SF, we practically breathe in the same air from the other side of the world! Which brings us to fun fact number one.

1. A Superb Mix and Adaptability to Cultural Diversity

A simple check on the internet would reveal the fact that Chinese fortune cookies were never invented in China. It was invented in, yes, San Francisco...and not by a Chinese immigrant, but by a Japanese, Makoto Hagiwara. Hagiwara was also the man who introduced the now-famous Japanese Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park as a part of his legacy. Fortune cookies, however, is an ingrained very American cultural adaptation. Although fortune cookies are offered in almost every Chinese restaurants in the United States, you’d be hard-pressed finding them in China, or Asia for that matter.

Even with the thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean in between, one thing's that crept up along the San Francisco shores, and it has very little to do with luck, and it’s air pollution. Although the city is not the foggiest nor is it the most polluted city in the country, its greenhouse gases and particle pollution has been well-captured on camera and documented. San Francisco is also home to the oldest and second-largest Chinatown in America. With more than 100,000 Chinese living within the Chinatown vicinity, it is the most densely populated neighborhood in San Francisco. The Golden City is also the proud home of the largest and oldest Japantown in the world, and one of the last few remaining ones in the United States. If you’re a culture vulture, be sure to drop by the Asian Art Museum, or time your trip for the Jewish Film Festival or the American Indian Film Festival.

river, water adventures, whale-watching in San Francisco

2. Having a Whale of a Day

Back in the days, it was believed by most that the waters around the San Francisco Bay Area were infested with sharks. Fierce ones...but underwater discoveries have proven otherwise in the years that followed. There are no (or very few) man-eating sharks in the midst of SF waters and even if they were there, they hardly made their presence felt most of the time, were surprisingly small and not at all dangerous. Great White Sharks that course through the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean would rather not crawl their way into the bay. However, it was noted that in 2015, a feeding Great White WAS filmed feeding a little too close for comfort.

Whales, on the other hand, San Francisco’s got plenty! If you love marine animals and have ‘whale-watching’ listed on your bucket list, it’s time to strike it off. Book yourself a trip you will remember for the rest of your life together with onboard naturalists, experienced sailors, captain, and guides and you’ll be busy whipping out your cameras the entire trip. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot more than just humpback whales, so, be on the lookout for also sea lions, jellyfish, and other surrounding wildlife. Most of these organizations are passionate about their pursuit to protecting the animals and the preservation of their environment, and you’ll have some of their magic dust rub off on you during the trip.

And of course, the amazing view is definitely a plus!

3. Quivers of Quakes

Ever since news and publication of pictures related to the 1906 earthquake that hit San Francisco, some may make the mistake of thinking that massive earthquake is major threats to the people/visitors of this beloved city. While the historic quake will forever be etched in our history books (may continuing to occur throughout Bay Area), they are minuscule and often comes with a rating of 3.0 or less. That’s hardly a shiver.

The popularized 1906 earthquake was the first natural disaster to ever receive such level of attention from all around the world and it is only natural to be curious about what happened and its after-effects. For one, the 7.8 earthquake was given way too much credit for the damage caused because the resulting fires from the quake were far more devastating. The fire destroyed a whopping 80% of the city in a matter of days, causing billions in damage. In the meantime, the myth of San Francisco not having poles with street signs on them as a result of an earthquake-related measure is simply not true. Street names, as misspelled as some of them are, were direct orders from authorities during the restoration period. The stamped street names on the sidewalks provide for hours of fun as you try to spot as many spelling errors on them as possible. After bouncing back with the Panama Pacific Exposition (a nine-month event which attracted nearly 20 million people from all around the world) in 1915, almost immediately after the earthquake, the people of San Francisco showed the world what the words ‘tenacity’ and ‘resourcefulness’ really meant. It was inspiring.

Some works for the next show are starting to arrive! @bruce_gilden #brucegilden #thisland #citizen #comingsoon

A post shared by Pier 24 Photography (@pier24photography) on

4. Historic Sites Around San Francisco

Some people say that visiting the Golden Gate Bridge is on their bucket list. Others say that taking the iconic cable car rides in San Francisco is a must. And the truth of the matter is that BOTH are worth your time if you’re a history buff. It’s a well-known fact that the SF cable cars are the only ‘movable’ historic monument in town, an icon of San Francisco trudging along at 9.5 miles per hour from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf. The people of San Francisco fought fervently back when the cable cars' existence was somewhat threatened by the emergence of San Francisco streetcars. Taking the ride isn’t exactly as thrilling as some might expect it to be as it’s more of an 'experience' thing. So, instead of expecting it to be mind-blowing, just get your smartphone ready to Instagram it and record it down as something that you did while in San Francisco.

The Golden Gate Bridge is, needless to say, the creme de la creme for people who love both history and architecture. The famed ‘International Orange-colored’ bridge is one of the most-photographed structures in the world! Even as tourists stalk the bridge from near and far all over San Francisco, take heart in the fact that you can literally see and photograph it from any angle all around town. To experience the real deal, visitors are encouraged to take a slow drive on their rented charter buses, bike or have a languid walk along the resplendent bridge because the sheer size of it will really put things into perspective.

And of course, while we’re on the topic of iconic landmarks, there’s no missing Alcatraz Island. Approximately 5 decades ago, the notorious island rolled down its shutters and closed its doors behind prison guard, Jim Albright, as the last inmates were escorted off the prison island. It’s really ‘something else’ to see what this amped-up place really looks like in real life as TV screens and pages of magazines can only convey so much. Today, one of SF’s top attractions, you can take a ferry ride to the island, have a walk up the hill towards famed prison buildings and cell blocks, and explore the exercise yards with a self-guided audio tour. San Francisco is also famously built on 43 hills which resulted in some of the steepest streets in the country, one of which is Lombard Street. Even on an ordinary day, hundreds of tourists are chilling out along the 600-foot-long red brick roads. Some taking a walk along the winding street, others languidly strolling, shopping and people-watching along its neighboring cafes and facilities. It’s been said that there are up to 350 cars passing by the Crookedest Street in SF every 10 seconds - that’s a large number of cars, mind you.
  • Golden Gate Bridge
    Golden Gate Park
    San Francisco, CA, USA
    (415) 831-2700
    (415) 921-5858
  • Fisherman's Wharf
  • Alcatraz Island
    San Francisco, CA 94133
    (415) 561-4900
  • Pier 39
    Beach St & The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94133
    (415) 705-5500
  • Union Square
    333 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94108
    (415) 781-7880
  • Twin Peaks
    501 Twin Peaks Blvd, San Francisco, CA
    (415) 563-6504
  • Coit Tower
    1 Telegraph Hill Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94133
    (415) 249-0995
Lombard street San FranciscoLombard Street, San Francisco

5. Maiden Lane was a Line of International Brothels

The 1906 earthquake changed a lot of things in San Francisco, one of which was the former Morton Street. During the 1800s, it was considered the city’s top-billing red-light district, housing thousands of prostitutes from all over the world. As you take a walk along the modern day appropriately-renamed Maiden Lane, there’s no hint of its former self. The police, back in the days, generally stayed away unless there was a violent crime. Even with that said, murder was reportedly quite rampant.

After the 2 blocks of brothels were basically leveled during the major earthquake, an ambitious jeweler bought up the land and renamed it after Maiden Lanes of London, UK, and New York. Businessmen, literally, started from rubble up. Slowly but surely, work for reconstructing the destroyed back lanes and transforming them into department stores began and what we have today is a high-end shopping destination at the heart of San Francisco.

As it stretches across Kearny and Stockton Streets, it acts as one of the city’s most populous pedestrian malls. Traffic is blocked from 11am to 5pm by wrought iron gates as pedestrians are left free to roam the area on foot. The most significant building along the stretch is the V.C. Morris Gift Shop, a landmark location designed by the renowned Frank Lloyd Wright. Quaint, compact, cheerful and spontaneous, the street is lined with specialty boutiques, retail outlets, hair salons, contemporary art galleries, restaurants, coffee outlets, and cafes.

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We want to be the kind of company that you can always count on when you need transportation anywhere around, in and out, of San Francisco. Working tirelessly to ensure that all the vehicles that we connect you with are in good condition, has all the onboard amenities that you require, and are driven by professionally-trained personnel, we want to BE THERE when you need to move dozens or even thousands of people from one location to another. You can give us a call at 1-800-304-1993 when you need a charter bus for rehearsal dinners, graduations, proms, family reunions, engagement parties, church or school outings, corporate meetings, exhibitions, conventions, team-building events and even last-minute vehicles for political gatherings, rallies, and disaster relief efforts!

Timing is as important to us as it is to you so when you contact us, you’ll be getting a prompt response from our efficient staff in no time! We’ll take care of the transportation so that you can funnel all your energy into enjoying yourself, so, give us a call today!

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