What Makes San Francisco so Mesmerizing?
San Francisco is the city known for being “Gold in Peace, Iron in War” but what specifically is it about this city that draws so many people to it each year? The current population according to the San Francisco Census 2006 is 776,773 people and is considered the second most densely populated city in the United States. Thousands come to visit this smaller but remarkable city every year to see what is has to offer.
Media Relations Manager at the “Only in San Francisco” organization, Tanya Houseman, says that “San Francisco is different from any other city because it’s walkable, and it’s hilly so there are dramatic views from almost anywhere. It’s also a ‘foodie town’ devoted to sustainable, organic culture”.
San Francisco is sophisticated with its upscale dinning and shopping, the history and knowledge that can be found in any of the museums, and for the progressive attitudes. With the sophistication comes diversity and acceptance of different cultures and communities.San Francisco is one of the major cities that accepts many immigrants and is home to about 40.5 percent of non-white Americans.
Another important factor in the attraction of San Francisco is that this city has very unique architecture. The older neighborhoods still have the Victorian attitude but some of the newer more populated areas look very modern. Then there are some areas that have cultural flair and do not fit into any architectural category.
Places to Eat in San Francisco
Tanya Houseman says “the attractions that bring people to San Francisco and the Bay Area can be broken down into four categories: food, shopping, landscape, and the arts and culture.”
Food is central to San Francisco but with over 5,000 restaurants scattered all around the city the downfall is finding a place to eat.
Epic Roasthouse in the Embarcadero is a popular favorite for a lot of young adults right now, according to Houseman. She says that the atmosphere is really neat, the location is convenient, and the food is delicious. This restaurant serves everything from traditional food to more contemporary dishes and many different wines. It has a custom built fireplace and rich fabrics and colors to add to the ambiance.
Another popular favorite is the Fog City Diner in San Francisco, according to Chris Harding of the East Bay. This restaurant is also located in the Embarcadero, a trendy place for the young “hipsters” to visit. Harding says that they have great cuts of meat and that they add a San Francisco twist to everything they serve. This diner also has enough room for parties which can sometimes be rare in the San Francisco setting.
Harding also raves about San Francisco’s famous Fisherman’s Wharf saying “they have the best clam chowder in the world!” This little neighborhood is located on the northern waterfront of the city and serves some of the best seafood in the area. Restaurant owners and vendors employ fisherman who go out every morning to fish for the food that will be served that day. Always fresh, the food varies in price from a small cup of seafood for $6 or an elegant dinner for $100 plus.
In addition to the thousands of great restaurants in San Francisco, the Bay Area has a plethora of places to eat at. The Bay is popular for those who do not want to commute into San Francisco and for those who want to get away from the city.
Shopping in San Francisco
For all the places to eat in the Bay Area there are at least twice as many places to shop, according to Houseman.
She says that people like the flagship stores which include the numerous shops that line the edges of most the piers. Pier 39 is the most famous pier in San Francisco and one of the reasons is because of the shops. The stores are mostly for tourists but include many souvenirs and mementos to bring home from San Francisco.
There are places that allow for a more sophisticated shopping experience spread throughout the rest of the city and the Bay. Shopaholics love the many boutiques with independent designers because they will know they are the only person who has the piece of clothing they bought. Bess Tavil, a resident of Sacramento, makes the 90 minute drive to San Francisco a few times a year just to be able to shop in the city. She says, “My favorite boutique in San Francisco is called ‘Retail Therapy’ and they always carry my favorite designers”.
Tavil also enjoys the seven-story Nordstrom’s and Bloomingdales which is located in the heart of downtown San Francisco, in Union Square. “They have everything you need, why go anywhere else?” says Tavil.
In addition to great shops, San Francisco has its own fashion style that really differs from other cities in the United States. This style is sought after by fashionistas all around and many people even compare it to a more European look. San Francisco has been compared to numerous European cities including many of the sister cities, according to Houseman. “When people can not leave the United States they can go to San Francisco to get a similar shopping experience”.
The Landscape and Outdoor Adventures of San Francisco
The great outdoors of San Francisco is also unlike any other city. San Francisco itself is an island surrounded by frigid waters and lots of greenery. There are hills everywhere and fog that creeps over each high point looking like a waterfall in slow motion. A few miles away there are forest-like areas with Redwoods and Monterey Cyprus trees that capture the fog making it hard to see through them.
The rest of the Bay Area has a very different climate and look as well. In the East Bay there are golden hills sprinkled with trees and cows. The North Bay is the most unpopulated region in the Bay Area, according to the San Francisco census 2000, and is called “Wine Country” because of all the vineyards and country style land. Lastly, the South Bay is the most populated and has the feel of a smaller city. This is the home of “Silicon Valley” and has many office buildings and modern architecture throughout the whole territory.
Surrounding all these areas are the beaches of Northern California. The water is cold most of the year, and they do have Great White Sharks and jellyfish. Surfers come from around the world to surf these waves though because they are considered some of the most dangerous and challenging waters to surf, according to Tanya Houseman.
Culture and Community in San Francisco
With the landscapes being so diverse, it brings many people of diverse backgrounds to live and visit in San Francisco. Stephanie Benevidas, from Menlo Park in San Mateo County, loves the Haight-Ashbury district because of the culture and the history of the place. This area is famous for its “hippie movement and the beat generation”, says Houseman, and the culture of this community has never left from that time period.
Benevidas also comments that she loves other parts of San Francisco such as China Town or Little Italy. These areas all came to be when immigrants started coming to San Francisco. Many of the populations have a wide variety of different cultures now but the appearances still openly show what culture once populated it.
In China Town there are little shops everywhere where they sell tea, hang meat from the ceilings in the front of the stores, and sell touristy items that all came from china. The districts appeal also comes from the traditional Chinese exterior and there are parades that celebrate every Chinese holiday.
Little Italy has Italian flags on every pole in the area that used to notify outsiders that they were entering the Italian district. This strip of San Francisco keeps the Italian charm alive with the numerous Italian restaurants and street cafes.
There are so many different cultures in San Francisco and the Bay Area and for the most part the people who live there are pretty tolerant of those around them. Different cultures and communities celebrate differences by having parades and celebrations of different races and by the community going to support these other cultures.
Benevidas says, “There are so many cultures that it’s not about where you go but celebrating something new”.
A Few Downfalls of San Francisco
San Francisco, as unique and well-liked as it is does have some shortcomings. For one, it is extremely expensive and many people struggle to keep up and live normal lives. People who work in San Francisco do tend to make a little more money than those who live in other areas of California, according to the San Francisco census 2006, but this increase still may not be enough to make a difference. Public transportation is rampant in they city but being able to afford it is another problem people run into. The bridge tolls are constantly being raised and are now around 6 dollars each time a car goes through it.
Another problem San Francisco has is that its crime rates are going up, according to Houseman. It is ranked 99 out of 378 cities that were measured in the Census of 2006, which is a rising number.
However, if the price of living in the city is not an issue and if precautions are taken to insure safety San Francisco can be a great place to travel to or live in. Houseman states that,”It is the best place to be on the planet”.
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