15 San Francisco Surprises
|1. When visiting Chinatown, remember to look up. Temples are historically built on the upper levels of buildings—to be closer to the gods. The Tin How Temple at 125 Waverly Place is the oldest Chinese temple in the United States.|
|2. The United Nations was founded in San Francisco on June 26, 1945. The historic treaty was signed on the stage of Herbst Theatre in the Veterans Building at 401 Van Ness Avenue.|
|3. San Francisco Bay is the largest natural harbor and estuary on the West Coast.|
|4. A designated national historic landmark, the world’s first cable car rumbled down Clay Street on the morning of Aug. 2, 1873.|
|5. Speaking of cable cars, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s daughter, Lynda, was ordered off of a cable car in 1968 for eating an ice cream cone.|
|6. They still wash coins at the Westin St. Francis, a tradition that started in the 1930s to keep ladies white gloves from getting dirty.|
|7. If the U.S. Navy, had prevailed the Golden Gate Bridge would have been painting black with yellow stripes to ensure greater visibility for passing ships. Fortunately, the architects rejected that color scheme, as well as one that called for carbon black and steel grey, settling on International Orange. And in case you didn’t know, there are approximately 600,000 rivets in each tower of the Golden Gate Bridge, which turns 75 in May 2012.|
|8. There’s a famous piece of apparel that got its start in San Francisco. The “birth of the blues” refers to Levi’s jeans. In 1873, Levi Strauss & Co. created and patented the world’s first blue jeans. Some vintage treasures are on view at company headquarters at 1155 Battery Street.|
|9. San Francisco has 40-plus hills; the most famous are Twin Peaks, Nob Hill, Russian Hill and Telegraph Hill.|
|10. San Francisco claims a number of food firsts, including the martini (although some contend it started in Martinez, a few miles to the east of San Francisco); the fortune cookie; America’s oldest Italian restaurant, Fior d’Italia; Oysters Kirkpatrick; cioppino; Chicken Tetrazzini; Crab Louis—and no visit is complete without sampling an “It’s It” ice cream sandwich.|
|11. Hum along now…the city by the bay has an official song—the rousing “San Francisco” and an official ballad, Tony Bennett’s romantic “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”|
|12. The first television was invented by Philo T. Farnsworth and transmitted its first successful electronic image on Sept. 7, 1927. A plaque marks the spot at 202 Green Street.|
|13. Bet you didn’t know that quintessential New Englander, Robert Frost, was born in San Francisco.|
|14. San Francisco is the only consolidated city and county in California. It is also the home of the oldest public high school west of the Mississippi—Lowell H.S. Some of its famous graduates include actors Benjamin Bratt, Carol Channing, scientist Dian Fossey and Supreme Court Associate Justice Stephen Breyer.|
|15. Dubbed “the crookedest street in the world,” Lombard Street’s famous curves have been featured in several movies including “What’s Up Doc?” and “Magnum Force.”|
And some “don’ts”
Most destinations will ply you with a list of “must sees.” As anyone who has visited San Francisco knows, the city also has a few “don’ts.”
Don’t let San Francisco’s famous inclines intimidate you. Some judicious planning using public transit can give you the upper hand (or foot). The hills are laced with stairways that lead to hidden gardens and breathtaking views.
Don’t leave the kids at home. This is an adult playground, no doubt about it. It’s also brimming with things for children to do, such as playing pirate at the Hyde Street Pier or getting acquainted with a swarm of jellyfish at Aquarium of the Bay. Even science can be fun if you step inside a four-story rainforest at the California Academy of Sciences and sort through “sonic soup” at the Exploratorium.
Stay in town for these events: the 75th anniversary celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge over Memorial Day weekend and San Francisco’s sizzling Carnaval parade and festival that takes place on May 26 to 27, 2012.
Don’t even think about a fast food meal. San Francisco has more restaurants per capita than any major city in the United States and options range from haute cuisine to a crepe brimming with veggies and feta cheese from a street truck. And with more than a dozen farmers markets and the enormously popular Ferry Building Marketplace, there’s really, really no excuse not to become an instant locavore.
Above all, don’t call it Frisco.
For those who are already planning what they’ll do once they arrive, a recent visitor profile study placed the following neighborhoods in the “top 10:”
- Union Square Area
- Fisherman’s Wharf
- Embarcadero Center/ Ferry Building
- North Beach
- SOMA/Yerba Buena/Moscone
- Marina District/Presidio
- Civic Center Area
- Richmond/Sunset/Ocean Beach
- Castro District
- Mission District
To learn more about San Francisco and what you should see and do while attending ATS 2012, please visit www.sanfrancisco.travel. You can also get more insider tips from Facebook fans who left their hearts in San Francisco at facebook.com/onlyinSF.