San Francisco, the largest city of the Pacific coast, and commercial emporium of California, is situated in 37° 47' 22" N. lat. and 122° 25' 40.76" W. long., 2434 miles W. of St Louis by rail, and 3542 of New York. The city occupies the end of a peninsula or tongue of land, having the ocean on one side and the Bay of San Francisco on the other. The site is uneven; from two heights (294 and 360 feet) the land inclines gently towards the bay. The entrance to this landlocked bay is through the Golden Gate, 5 miles long and 1 mile wide, with a depth of 100 feet, but only 30 feet on the bar at the entrance. The Bay of San Francisco extends to the S. about 40 miles, varying in width from 6 to 12 miles. Northwards, this bay connects by a strait with San Pablo Bay (10 miles long), which again is connected with Suisun Bay (8 miles long). The Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers debouch near the head of Suisun Bay. Nearly in front of the city are three important islands - Alcatraz (fortified), Angel Island (fortified), and Yerba Buena or Goat Island. Most of the pioneer wooden business structures have disappeared; many large and costly buildings have been erected; and marble, granite, and terra-cotta are coming into extensive use, with interior frames of iron and steel. There are several theatres and opera-houses, a sub-treasury, mint, custom-house, stock exchange, city hall (cost over $4,000,000), and other structures of less note. The Palace Hotel cost upwards of three million dollars, and accommodates 1200 guests. There are about a dozen public squares; the Golden Gate Park covers an area of 1050 acres. The new Roman Catholic cathedral, the Unitarian church, Grace Church, and the First Congregational Church are notable religious edifices. The state university is at Berkeley, and the Leland Stanford University at Palo Alto (33 miles SE. by rail). The higher institutions of the city include the law, medical, and dental departments of the university, the Cooper Medical College, the Hahnemann Medical College, the School of Mechanic Arts (founded by a bequest from James Lick of $540,000), and the Academy of Sciences. The city has also a free library with near 150,000 vols.; other large collections are the Mercantile Library and the Mechanics' Library, the Oddfellows' Library, and the Law Library. The most conspicuous building is the City Hall (begun 1875; finished 1900), with a dome 332 feet high, and costing over $6,000,000. Most of the streets are laid out in rectangular form, and with little reference to the conformation of the surface. The cable tramway was invented in San Francisco, and there are still some 80 miles of cable-roads, besides about 180 miles of electric tramways. The water-supply is brought from points about 20 miles distant from the city.
San Francisco is the western terminus of the great continental railroads and of many short lines, and has steamer communication with the ports of the world. A stone dry-dock admits vessels of 6000 tons, and there are smaller docks for coasting craft. San Francisco is one of the most important grain ports in the United States; and gold and silver, wine, fruit, and wool are exported (largely in British bottoms). There are large sugar-refineries, foundries, shipyards, cordage-works, wood-factories, woollen-mills, and many others. The mission of San Francisco was founded by the Mexicans in 1776, but the present city sprang from the village of Yerba Buena, 3 miles E., founded in 1835, which became American in 1846. In 1848, the year of the Cali-fornian gold discovery, the pop. was 500; (1850) 25,000; (1870) 149,473; (1900) 342,782, including about 14,000 Chinese (mainly in the curious 'Chinese quarter,' with its own joss-houses, theatres, and opium-dens). A terrible earthquake (April 18, 1906), and the resultant fires, destroyed the greater part of San Francisco and many neighbouring towns, and a large part of the state suffered at the same time. See California, and works there cited.