35 Things True San Franciscans Should Know About the City by the Bay

By: Zoe Samuel
Estimated Completion Time
3 min
35 Things True San Franciscans Should Know About the City by the Bay
Image: pixabay

About This Quiz

If you're going to San Francisco, word is that you you should wear flowers in your hair. But getting the best out of a city is about more than just the correct sartorial choices (and besides, a place as open-minded as San Francisco would never discriminate based on whether or not you have enough hair to put flowers in it). The most important thing to do, if you want to get the best out of the city, is to talk to a native son or daughter. That way, whether you're a tourist or a local, you won't end up just trapped in the loudest, most expensive areas doing all the same sorts of things that you could do back at home.

How well do you know one the wealthiest cities in sunny California? Could you find your way around? Identify the steepest street? What do you know about how they opened the Golden Gate Bridge, and when? Do you know about the various social movements that started in San Francisco, or how it became a hub for technology? If you can answer all these questions, then whether or not you were born there, you're a true native of San Francisco!

Before it was called San Francisco, what was the city called?
Mission Bay
Yerba Buena
The city was renamed in 1847 to its current name. The streets had no names prior to the city's name change.
Oakland
Santiago

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Which is the most densely populated neighborhood?
Chinatown
100,000 people live in this area. It's the second-largest Chinatown outside of Asia.
The Mission
The Castro
North Beach

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How many named hills are there in the city?
7
1
50
They include Golden Mine Hill and Tank Hill. Oh, and don't forget Twin Peaks.
72

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Where does San Francisco bury dead people?
In the bay.
In the Presidio.
In the Tenderloin.
Trick question: it doesn't.
Colma hosts all San Francisco's dead and actually has more dead people than living.

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What super cool thing was invented in 1927 in San Francisco by Philio Farnsworth?
Electric TV
Electric TV changed the world! Of course, now we stare at our phones.
Telephone
Penicillin
Cupcakes

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How many people died in the 1906 earthquake?
150
100,000
20,000
3,000
400,000 were homeless and 3,000 died. The city took 10 years to recover.

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What is the color of the paint on the Golden Gate Bridge?
Red
International Orange
The architect liked it so much that he went with it, even though it was just the primer meant to prevent rust. The navy wanted the bridge painted in stripes, for safety.
Yellow
Super Red

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What famous prison is on an island in the Bay?
Alcatraz
Al Capone spent his dying years there on tax avoidance charges. He played the banjo while there.
Ryker's
Folsom
Supermax

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What island in the bay is considered the "Ellis Island of the West"?
Ellis Island II
Treasure Island
Alameda Island
Angel Island
Immigrants from Asia were processed here, just like at Ellis Island. Today it's a tour and hiking destination.

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What famous family sitcom, recently revived at Netflix, was set in San Francisco?
Full House
"Full House" is now "Fuller House." Despite terrible reviews, was renewed on Netflix in 2018 for a fourth season.
Frasier
Friends
Sex & The City

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How many restaurants are open in the city at any given moment?
3,500
There are plenty of choices. Of course, there's always plenty of fresh seafood.
100
100,000
12,000

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What ubiquitous post-meal food was invented by Makoto Hagiwara in San Francisco?
Tres leches cake
Fortune cookie
This was invented by Japanese chef Makoto Hirogawa. He first served them in the 1890s.
Irish coffee
Fruit plate

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How many San Francisco banks failed during the Great Depression?
All
5
12
None
San Francisco banks were surprisingly resilient - that, or most of their customers were too affluent to go into default.

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When did San Francisco become part of the U.S.?
1902
1848
After the Mexican-American war, America literally conquered a lot of territory, thus proving that two democracies have in fact had a way.
1776
1925

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Which is the steepest street in the city?
Lombard
Filbert
People fight about this, but Filbert Street is the steepest at 31.5 degrees. Drive carefully!
Smith
Main

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What event kicked off the Summer of Love in 1967?
The Spring of Love
The Human Be-In
It was actually in January, but it's not that cold in San Francisco.
The Great Kiss
Hippie Dippy Summer Lovin' Party

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Some of San Francisco's neighborhoods are built on landfill. Which is NOT one of them?
Marina
Mission Bay
Hunters Point
Fishermen's Wharf
Of course, Fisherman's Wharf is touristy, but the seafood is phenomenal. There's also an aquarium, a wax museum and plenty of shopping opportunities.

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What important international charter was ratified in San Francisco in 1945?
Magna Carta
United Nations
Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin were in attendance. The UN Character consists of founding documents that set up how it's supposed to work.
Bill of Rights
League of Nations

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What surprising disease struck in San Francisco in 1900?
AIDS
Ebola
Bubonic plague
The bubonic plague surprised a lot of people by showing up in the U.S. It was transmitted by fleas.
Cancer

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By what name was favorite son of the city, Joshua Abraham Norton, known?
That Guy
Emperor Norton
He became a local celebrity and people were very entertained by his self-styled title. He claimed to be the Emperor of America - not just San Francisco or California.
Mr. Josh
The King

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What native resident lent their image to the California state flag?
Pookie the dog
Effie the cat
Monarch the bear
The bear lived at the zoo in Golden Gate Park. It was a California grizzly.
Sandy the horse

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What rather unfair law was proposed in 1867?
Ugly Law
The Ugly Law was repealed, but its purpose was to stop ugly people from showing their ugly mugs in public.
Mean Law
Cruel Law
Dumb Law

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What historic item visited the city during the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition?
Statue of Liberty
Brooklyn Bridge cables
The Liberty Bell
The expo was designed to show that San Fran was back after the big earthquake.
Original Constitution

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What percentage of pollution in San Francisco comes from China?
29%
It's one reason San Franciscans will be happy with China's clean energy push. Pollution from China travels across the Pacific to the U.S.
100%
50%
70%

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What is the average depth of San Francisco Bay?
100 feet
12-15 feet
Large ships follow channels maintained by dredging. Near Alcatraz, the bay is deeper.
2-3 feet
50-60 feet

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Who were local 1806 celebrities Bummer and Lazarus?
Stray dogs
They met when Bummer rescued Lazarus from an attacking dog. The two are commemorated with a plaque that describes their exploits.
Musicians
Activists
Horses that pulled a streetcar

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What did Japanese pilot Kohei Asoh do in San Francisco Bay that he did not mean to do?
Crapped himself.
Landed an airliner.
The pilot eloquently said, "As you Americans say, I f***** up."
Puked.
Drove his car into it.

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San Francisco International Airport is supported by columns on ball bearings. How much can they move in the event of a quake?
20 inches
This prevents the building collapsing in a quake by allowing it to jiggle as needed. What a feat of engineering!
5 feet
6 inches
3 feet

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What surprising thing is buried under the streets of Yerba Buena Cove?
Gold
Ships
They are left from the gold rush and some of them are massive! Some were sunk on purpose, in an odd scheme to gain real estate.
People
More streets

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What historically gay neighborhood was a birthplace of the gay rights movement?
The Castro
Along with NYC's Stonewall in the West Village, the Castro is the home of the gay rights movement.
The Mission
Tenderloin
Nob Hill

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How many people live in Nob Hill?
20,000
50,000
250,000
100,000
Nob Hill contains just under 100,000 people. It was once home to the Big Four railroad barons.

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What is the official instrument of San Francisco?
Violin
Accordion
It was picked in 1990 by local authorities.
Flute
Piano

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How many people live in the metro area?
20 million
2 million
7 million
The Bay Area includes nine counties. Just over half of the residents are female.
5 million

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What wonderful garment was invented in the city by Levi Strauss?
Bra
Elasticated pants
Superhero cape
Blue jeans
Blue jeans! Where would we be without them? Levi Strauss invented them around the time of the Gold Rush, and they took off from there.

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What is the tallest building in San Francisco?
Salesforce Tower
The tallest used to be the Transamerica Pyramid, at 853 feet, but now it's the Salesforce Tower, at 1,070 feet. It opened in 2018.
Millennium Tower
Transamerica Pyramid
One Rincon Hill

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