San Francisco is an iconic city best known for its unique culture, famed landmarks and steep rolling hills. The city is the fourth- most populous in California and 12th-most populous in the U.S. Encompassing a land area of just under 47 square miles; San Francisco is the second-most densely populated city in the U.S., only behind New York City.
Often called the “Gold Rush” town, San Francisco is best known for its spirit of innovation, attracting entrepreneurs – and those seeking a better life – for more than a hundred years. Whether the Gold Rush of the mid-to-late 19th century, the post-war era of the late 40s, the dot com phenomenon of the late 80s and early 90s, or today’s technology-industry boom the city’s entrepreneurial spirit continues to influence the economy and lifestyle of San Francisco.
San Francisco is also one of the most popular travel destinations in the world and one of the largest economies. As the city continues to invest in its cutting-edge industries, infrastructure and communities, there is no doubt that San Francisco will remain at the forefront of business and leisure for years to come.
While gold was actually discovered in central California in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and foothills, much of the riches were spent in San Francisco, making its roots lie largely in the Gold Rush. The population of the city has grown incredibly throughout the years, in 1847 the city was modest with 400 residents, but by 1860 the population had grown to over 56,000 people. Thanks to the Gold Rush, many more people were calling this far west city home in hopes of striking it rich. In fact, in 1849 alone over 30,000 “49ers” traveled across the continent to try to make their gold digging dreams a reality.
Though San Francisco started with a boom, devastation struck on April 18, 1906 when the great earthquake and fire occurred. About 700 were killed and over 28,000 buildings destroyed. Although the earthquake and fire ravaged much of the city, like a phoenix, San Francisco was rebuilt from its ashes. The San Francisco flag now depicts a rising phoenix for this reason. San Francisco served as the port of embarkation for service members shipping out to the Pacific Theater during World War II. After the war, the city experienced another boom when servicemen returned from duty. During the 1960s, the city became a center for liberal activism leading to the famous “Summer of Love” in 1967 and ultimately the gay rights movement.
For the next three decades, the Bay Area experienced a period of slow and then rapid economic growth with the founding of high-technology giants such as Apple Computer, Hewlett Packard, Oracle and many others. The region’s technology pioneers and the venture capitalists supporting them gave rise to the famous dot com era, which transformed the regional and world economies.
A mainstay of San Francisco today is undoubtedly the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. Founded on May 9, 1850, the Chamber’s early accomplishments include promoting the transcontinental railroad and petitioning Congress for an exemption to the Tariff Act – one of the first steps helping to make San Francisco a gateway to the Pacific Rim.
Following the great earthquake and fire, the Chamber helped bring the Panama-Pacific International Exposition to the city; extend U.S. Route 40 from Salt Lake City to San Francisco; and develop the bay’s two great bridges, the Hetch Hetchy water system and the nation’s first municipal public transit system.
The Chamber continues to be a champion for business and the economy in San Francisco and throughout the region. Recent accomplishments include: helping to create the city’s office of Economic Analysis; the creation of ChinaSF, an initiative to increase business and investment from China; the approval of many critical infrastructure and development projects such as California High-Speed Rail, Treasure Island Redevelopment, the Hunters Point Shipyard, Parkmerced; and many other economy-boosting projects and initiatives.
The diverse population of over 805,000 people in San Francisco is a reflection of today’s global society. Nearly one-third of Bay Area residents are immigrants and over 44 percent of local residents are bilingual, speaking over 112 different languages (U.S. Census Bureau).
San Francisco also boasts one of the most highly educated workforces in the nation and was recently named as the “Best Educated City in the Nation” by Money Magazine. Nearly 25 percent of San Franciscans ages 18-24 have obtained a bachelors degree or higher, Over 31 percent, ages 25 and older, have obtained a bachelors degree and nearly 20 percent hold a graduate or professional degree, (U.S. Census Bureau). This talented workforce provides a clear link to city’s economic prosperity.