According to act-test-centers.com, San Francisco is the second city in the state of California (United States) after Los Angeles (v.), the 11th in descending order of population among the major centers of the Union, capital of the homonymous county (whose limits coincide with those of the metropolis); it extends in the northern section of a narrow and elongated peninsula, overlooking the Pacific Ocean to the west and the bay of the same name to the north-east and east. The maritime passage from the ocean to the bay is offered by the Golden Gate or Golden Gate, famous for the beauty of the landscape, which can be reached from the west through three channels, the Bonita Channel, the central channel (the most popular) and the southern channel, which allow you to avoid dangerous shallows, of which the best known is the Four Fathom Bank. San Francisco Bay, which continues north in the narrow and elongated San Pablo Bay, extends from north to south for about 77 km., with a maximum width of 21 km. On its eastern bank, facing San Francisco, there are numerous large centers: Alameda with 35,033 residents in 1930; Oakland with 284,063; Berkeley, with 82.109; Richmond with 20,093, forming a single gigantic urban agglomeration, while on the western bank, south of the metropolis, there are South San Francisco, San Mateo, Redwood City and, north of the Golden Gate, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon.
San Francisco enjoys a temperate Mediterranean climate with an average annual temperature of 13 °, 3: winters are very mild (January 10 °), summers cool (between 15 ° -16 °), with not excessive difference between absolute minimums and maximums (−1 °, 6; 37 ° 0.7); westerly winds prevail; rainfall is scarce, equal to 550 mm., distributed with absolute prevalence in the winter months (January 118 mm.), while the summer is decidedly dry (0.2 mm. in July). Given the good thermal conditions, freezing only rarely appears and is never an obstacle to navigation either on the bay or on the rivers.
The development of the big city is intimately connected with the economic history of the region and is one of the most significant examples of what the economic events on human settlement can be in a naturally not too favorable area: because the peninsula, easily beaten by winds, with numerous hills, embedded valleys, and with a coastal area not suitable for navigation, did not in itself offer favorable conditions for the development of a metropolis. The first inhabited areas date back to the end of the century. XVIII and early XIX: three areas were chosen as the most suitable, and more precisely the northern cusp of the peninsula, guarding the Golden Gate, where the Spaniards built a fort in 1797; the north-east section, overlooking the bay or Yerba Buena Cove, whose anchorage began to be frequented by sailing ships starting from 1824 and which from 1834, by order of the Mexican government, became the most important commercial center, and finally the place where the Dolores mission stood, 5-6 km. west of Yerba Buena. The life of these first nuclei, however, had to receive a great impulse from the discovery of the great Californian gold deposits in 1848: a very lively competition for dominance and on the nearby localities began (Sausalito in a good position on the bay, but closed behind by mountainous areas, Benicia, Vallejo, Martinez, in a better position than the inland areas and goldfields, but lacking good waterways and deep sea beds, Alameda, Oakland, also in a favorable position, but in need of major port works) prevailed Yerba Buena,
The city began to expand rapidly, overcoming the difficulties of the natural environment consisting mainly of hills, rising up to 250-300 meters above sea level: in the north-eastern part the hill called Telegraph Hill, formerly a signaling station, then a meeting place, then part of the Latin Quarter; to the south-west the Twin Peaks with the Sutro and Davidson mountains (270 m). The whole coastal area south of Telegraph Hill, once swampy, was gradually filled with material transported from the hill, so that the beach line that once touched Montgomery Street was pushed eastward, and the whole area it soon became the center of business and traffic.
So much fervor of life had to be momentarily cut short by the earthquake of April 18, 1906, which was immediately followed by a fire, caused by the explosion of gas pipes that destroyed 28,188 homes and buildings, so that 200,000 people out of a total of 400,000 were left homeless. The material damage totaled $ 500,000,000.
The city was soon able to recover from the disaster and resume its demographic path, summarized by the following figures: 34,776 inhabitants in 1852; 56,802 in 1860; 233,956 in 1880; 298,997 in 1890; 342,782 in 1900; 416,912 in 1910; 506,676 in 1920; 634,394 in 1930. In that last year the metropolis occupied 11th place among the large cities of the Union while it was 14th in 1860. The ethnic composition was as follows: Indigenous whites born to partially and totally foreign parents, 69, 6%; Whites born abroad 24.2%; Negroes 0.6%; other races 5.6% (Mexicans 7922; Japanese 6250; Chinese 16,303). Of the Whites born abroad (total of 153,386 individuals) it can be said that all the most important nationalities are represented: in 1930 they offered more than 5000 individuals each of the following groups: Italians 27,311; British, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish 18,392; Germans 18,608; Irish Free State 13,902; Franco-Canadians and Canadians 9601; Russians 7455; Swedish 7152; French 6461. For large European linguistic families there were the following values: Anglo-Saxons 72,500 people; Neolatini 38,000; Slavs 13,650. The town’s master plan has been adapting to the topographical needs of the place: the main artery is Market Street, 36 m wide, which cuts diagonally across the city, from the sea to the south-west. The southern section forms the manufacturing district with the workers’ houses, while the business district extends to the north of the artery. Below Telegraph Hill is the Latin contrada, where numerous descendants of the ancient Spanish rulers still live.
In addition to its incomparable panorama, San Francisco offers all the characteristics of the great industrial and commercial city: the total number of people employed in various activities over 10 years of age rises from 147,269 in 1890 (58.3%) to 333,573 in 1930 (59, 1%), thus offering one of the most pronounced proportional values of all the large cities in the Union. The economic categories are represented as follows: 27.1 % it is given by craftsmanship and industry; 29.1% by employees in commerce and the media; 16.1% from office workers; 15.1% from service personnel, etc. In this way, what is the salient feature of the metropolis is delineated, that is, that it is above all a commercial city; second, industrial. Large industry employed 41,764 workers in 1890; 48,550 in 1919; 41,373 in 1925; 45,482 in 1929.
All industries are represented there: the clothing, knitwear, fashion and haberdashery industries; foundries, metalworking, electrical material manufacturing; publishing (3963 workers); the shipbuilding and ship repair industry. Connected with the agricultural conditions of the region and with the importation of tropical raw materials are the confectionery industries, the processing of sugar and coffee; canned vegetables and fruit (2395 workers); the furniture factory is also flourishing.
The city owes much of its fortune to the port, one of the largest in the Union: the busiest waterfront stretches for 13 km. from 1600 m. approximately east of Fort Point to Avisadero Point. It has 84 piers, docks, basins, of which 7 are used for timber, 6 for oil and derivatives; of 6 berths for ferries. Traffic has been steadily increasing since the distant year 1850, which first saw the construction of several docks measuring 1,800 meters in length at a cost of one million dollars. The average annual traffic at the end of the century. XIX was around 5-6 million tons; the earthquake disaster momentarily hampered the rise which then resumed vigorously: in the decade 1922-1931 the overall average annual trade was 11.8 million metric tons, which represents a third of all movement through the Golden Gate. As for the type of trade, 19% is given by traffic to and from abroad; the remaining 81% from the internal one (interstate, state and cabotage). Imports from abroad (6.4% of the total movement of the port) mainly concern tropical products and more precisely cane sugar and molasses from the Philippines; coffee and tea from the republics of Central and South America; fruit from Far East Asia; coconuts and copra from the Philippines and the Dutch Indies; vegetable oils mainly from East Asia and the Philippines; then paper, mainly of Canadian origin; nitrates and fertilizers mainly from Chile and Japan, etc. Exports to foreign countries (12, 5% of total trade) mainly concern oil and derivatives (30% of total exports), directed to Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the Far East of Asia; then food products, such as barley directed mainly to England, canned products and fruit mainly to Europe, wheat flour to Central America, etc.
Internal trade is of greater importance, between the port of San Francisco and the others of the Union (especially those of the Atlantic) equal to 81% of the total traffic: the most traded goods are oil and derivatives, timber, sugar, preserved products, fresh fruits and vegetables, etc.
The picture of the means of communication is grandiose: 43 shipping lines for foreign countries; 24 for internal trade; 8 for communications with the centers of the bay. The city is the end of the great transcontinental railway arteries coming from the centers of the Atlantic. It is also a very important aviation center with a municipal airport, located about 20 km away. south of the city on the bay, east of San Bruno, terminus of the great transcontinental routes coming from New York and on the Seattle-Los Angeles-San Diego artery. Completing these means of communication are the two grandiose suspension bridges that are under construction, one of which connects San Francisco with Oakland; the other passes the Golden Gate.