AMAZING SAN FRANCISCO, “The City By The Bay” (part 1)

Gem & Lita on board the iconic cable car.

Oh, Tony Bennett, it seems that we left our hearts in San Francisco, “high on a hill where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars”.

Long before our first visit to San Francisco in northern California we already had some vivid memories of the spectacular city as sparked by famous television crime dramas “Streets of San Francisco” starred by Michael Douglas and Karl Malden together with “Iron Side” of Raymond Burr, and by the family favourite tv sitcom “Full House” of Bob Saget. Popular Hollywood films have been made here including “Mrs. Doubtfire” (Robin Williams and Sally Field) and Clint Eastwood’s movie, “Escape From Alcatraz”.

A very compact city, San Francisco is only 18 sq. km (7 sq. mi) in area making it the second most densely populated city in the United States after New York. Rated one of the top tourist destinations for “sightseeing, dining, culture, history, sports, outdoor activities, and splendid scenery”, The City By the Bay, colloquially named “Frisco”, was named by Spanish colonists in 1776 after St. Francis of Assisi, the 13th century Italian friar venerated as a patron of animals.

Seventy-three (73) years later, i.e. 1848, the California Gold Rush began when nuggets of gold were discovered in the Sacramento Valley resulting to the rapid influx of approximately 300,000 fortune seekers and dreamers making San Francisco a real boom town. San Francisco shares with no other US city due to its destruction by earthquakes that had been felt in 1864, 1898, and 1900 but it was not until 5:13 AM of 18 April 1906 when the coast of northern California was struck by a massive earthquake lasting less than a minute but with an immediate disastrous destruction of the city, igniting fires that burned for three days until the ashes were wetted by rains and killing more than 3,000 people, leaving 250,000 homeless. Recovery construction however was swift.

Cable cars assing on Hyde Street, San Francisco

In 1945 San Francisco became the birthplace of the United Nations Organization succeeding the failed League of Nations and two decades later in the 1960s the city became the heart of North America’s “liberal and gay rights activism, songs, poetry, love-ins, and anti-Vietnam peace protests”.

The very first thing we did on the first day of our visit is finding and waddling our way to a cable car stop to experience what is like to ride the historic and most iconic form of transportation in San Francisco. The San Francisco cable car system is the world’s last manually-operated cable car system and an icon of the city – starting its regular service operation in 1873. A trip to this amazing metropolis is not complete without riding a cable car running up and down the steep hills, hanging on tight as you swing around corners simultaneously taking an awesome view of the bay. One ride on the cable car costs US$8 – same price for everyone; only exceptions are seniors 65 and over pay $4. You pay US$8 every time you get in – they don’t give transfers. All-day passport is sold for US$14 by the conductors of the cable car.

Trivia: The 1953 song “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” became American singer Tony Bennett’s signature song after he recorded it in 1962. The song became the official city song 06 October 1969.