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Highlights from Collier's World Atlas and Gazetteer, 1947


San Francisco, California, in 1947

Collier's World Atlas and Gazetteer, 1947


    Population 634,536. Greater San Francisco, which includes Oakland and the Alameda, Berkeley, counties of Marin and San Mateo, contained in 1940 over two million people.

    It is the most important commercial and ocean traffic point west of the Missouri River. It is situated on a peninsula with the ocean on one side and the bay of San Francisco on the other, and has an area of 42 square miles. On the site of the city are many hills. The highest of these, known as the "Twin Peaks," form a background to the leading thoroughfares and others are traversed by the fashionable residential streets. The most noted of these is Nob Hill, upon which the men who constructed the first overland railroad built their homes. From the famous Cliff House and the Sutro Heights, on the hills of the west or ocean side, is a magnificent view of the Seal Rocks and Pacific Ocean. The commercial part of the town is fairly level and lies along the bay. The chief business thoroughfare is Market Street, 3½ miles long, with which the streets from the north and west hills intersect. This feature gives the city a striking skyline.

    On Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe; Key System; Northwestern Pacific; Sacramento Northern (El.); Southern Pacific; Western Pacific (R. Rs.). The harbor of San Francisco is one of the finest in the world, having an area of 450 square miles and navigable by the largest steamers. The entrance to the harbor is the famous Golden Gate, spanned by the now famous Golden Gate Bridge. Regular steamship lines connect the city with Japan, China, and ports in many other foreign countries.

    Owing to these facilities, the commercial importance of San Francisco is considerable. Its situation on a peninsula, across which summer trade-winds blow, has given San Francisco a mild and healthful climate. Among the city's many features are the Civic Center, embracing a fine group of buildings, namely, the City Hall, Auditorium, War Memorial buildings, the State Building and Public Library, situated round a spacious plaza adorned with statuary and tropical flora. Other points of interest are the Presidio, Chinatown, Palace of Fine Arts (in Exposition Grounds), Golden Gate Memorial Museum, the Affiliated Colleges (which house the medical, dental and pharmaceutical departments of the University of California), the Museum of Anthropology, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, the Mission Dolores, and the Roman Catholic Cathedral. The largest of the city parks is Golden Gate Park, covering more than 1,000 acres and redeemed from a waste of sand dunes.

    On April 18, 1906, came the great earthquake, which shook down hundreds of houses in all quarters of the city and buried many scores of people under the ruins. Fire followed in the wake of the disaster and destroyed nearly forty square miles, or 508 blocks of the city. The total loss of the fire and earthquake was estimated at about $400,000,000. The rebuilding of the city was at once begun, and the destroyed portions were replaced. The downtown district was completely rebuilt at a cost of $350,000,000.

    The Panama-Pacific International Exposition, celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal, was held here in 1915. Treasure Island, the site of the 1939-1940 Golden Gate International Exposition, is being converted into an airport. The 400-acre island was built from soil dredged from the bottom of the bay.

    The first settlement at San Francisco was made by Spaniards, who in October, 1776, established a military post and a mission of Franciscan Friars. The Mexicans secured control of California in 1822, and a small village called Dolores grew up around the mission. In 1836, 3 miles northwest of the mission a village, Yerba Buena, was founded, and from this the modern city was developed. In 1846, when the United States took possession, Yerba Buena changed its old name to that of the mission and bay, San Francisco. The city was incorporated in 1850, and in 1856 the city and county were consolidated.


Click on the map below to greatly enlarge it in a new window.

Map of San Francisco, California, in 1947