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

Zoe Samuel

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?

The city was renamed in 1847 to its current name. The streets had no names prior to the city's name change.

Which is the most densely populated neighborhood?

100,000 people live in this area. It's the second-largest Chinatown outside of Asia.

How many named hills are there in the city?

They include Golden Mine Hill and Tank Hill. Oh, and don't forget Twin Peaks.

Where does San Francisco bury dead people?

Colma hosts all San Francisco's dead and actually has more dead people than living.

What super cool thing was invented in 1927 in San Francisco by Philio Farnsworth?

Electric TV changed the world! Of course, now we stare at our phones.

How many people died in the 1906 earthquake?

400,000 were homeless and 3,000 died. The city took 10 years to recover.

What is the color of the paint on the Golden Gate Bridge?

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.

What famous prison is on an island in the Bay?

Al Capone spent his dying years there on tax avoidance charges. He played the banjo while there.

What island in the bay is considered the "Ellis Island of the West"?

Immigrants from Asia were processed here, just like at Ellis Island. Today it's a tour and hiking destination.

What famous family sitcom, recently revived at Netflix, was set in San Francisco?

"Full House" is now "Fuller House." Despite terrible reviews, was renewed on Netflix in 2018 for a fourth season.

How many restaurants are open in the city at any given moment?

There are plenty of choices. Of course, there's always plenty of fresh seafood.

What ubiquitous post-meal food was invented by Makoto Hagiwara in San Francisco?

This was invented by Japanese chef Makoto Hirogawa. He first served them in the 1890s.

How many San Francisco banks failed during the Great Depression?

San Francisco banks were surprisingly resilient - that, or most of their customers were too affluent to go into default.

When did San Francisco become part of the U.S.?

After the Mexican-American war, America literally conquered a lot of territory, thus proving that two democracies have in fact had a way.

Which is the steepest street in the city?

People fight about this, but Filbert Street is the steepest at 31.5 degrees. Drive carefully!

What event kicked off the Summer of Love in 1967?

It was actually in January, but it's not that cold in San Francisco.

Some of San Francisco's neighborhoods are built on landfill. Which is NOT one of them?

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.

What important international charter was ratified in San Francisco in 1945?

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.

What surprising disease struck in San Francisco in 1900?

The bubonic plague surprised a lot of people by showing up in the U.S. It was transmitted by fleas.

By what name was favorite son of the city, Joshua Abraham Norton, known?

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.

What native resident lent their image to the California state flag?

The bear lived at the zoo in Golden Gate Park. It was a California grizzly.

What rather unfair law was proposed in 1867?

The Ugly Law was repealed, but its purpose was to stop ugly people from showing their ugly mugs in public.

What historic item visited the city during the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition?

The expo was designed to show that San Fran was back after the big earthquake.

What percentage of pollution in San Francisco comes from China?

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.

What is the average depth of San Francisco Bay?

Large ships follow channels maintained by dredging. Near Alcatraz, the bay is deeper.

Who were local 1806 celebrities Bummer and Lazarus?

They met when Bummer rescued Lazarus from an attacking dog. The two are commemorated with a plaque that describes their exploits.

What did Japanese pilot Kohei Asoh do in San Francisco Bay that he did not mean to do?

The pilot eloquently said, "As you Americans say, I f***** up."

San Francisco International Airport is supported by columns on ball bearings. How much can they move in the event of a quake?

This prevents the building collapsing in a quake by allowing it to jiggle as needed. What a feat of engineering!

What surprising thing is buried under the streets of Yerba Buena Cove?

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.

What historically gay neighborhood was a birthplace of the gay rights movement?

Along with NYC's Stonewall in the West Village, the Castro is the home of the gay rights movement.

How many people live in Nob Hill?

Nob Hill contains just under 100,000 people. It was once home to the Big Four railroad barons.

What is the official instrument of San Francisco?

It was picked in 1990 by local authorities.

How many people live in the metro area?

The Bay Area includes nine counties. Just over half of the residents are female.

What wonderful garment was invented in the city by Levi Strauss?

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.

What is the tallest building in San Francisco?

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.

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