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San Francisco, California

The San Francisco area, although occupied by the Ohlone Indians for 15,000 years, was first “discovered” in 1579 by Sir Francis Drake. He and his crew sailed past the entrance to San Francisco bay and landed at Point Reyes, about 35 miles north of San Francisco, claiming it for Queen Elizabeth. In 1775, almost 200 years later, the Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala became the first European to enter the Golden Gate. He was followed in 1776 by Captain Juan Bautista de Anza who built a presidio (fort) above the entrance to the bay. A tiny village known as Yerba Buena soon sprang up nearby.

The Clipper Ship Balclutha

Yerba Buena was renamed San Francisco in 1847 just before gold was discovered in the Sierra Nevada mountains to the east. Prospectors from all over the world began flooding in by land and sea and by 1849 over 100,000 people had passed through San Francisco on their way to the gold fields. Some new arrivals stayed and the city’s population exploded from 500 to 25,000 within a year. Mercantile establishments, small industries, and shipping to the Orient flourished bringing prosperity to the City. In 1850, California became the 31st state in the Union.

In 1869, the first westbound train arrived in San Francisco, and in 1870 San Francisco became the tenth largest city in the United States. A large Chinese population of laborers recruited in the 1840s and 1850's settled here, joined by many other nationalities including Irish, French, Italian, German, Russian, Australian, and Jewish immigrants, giving San Francisco an international flair and appeal.

The initial gold rush fever had subsided by 1859 when a second rush took place for the even richer wealth of the silver Comstock Lode near Carson City, Nevada. The late 1870’s saw the boom years of the gold and silver rushes dry up; nevertheless, San Francisco grew steadily and at the turn of the century the population was approaching 350,000. The Spanish-American War in 1898 and the Klondike Gold Rush in Canada's Yukon in 1896 underlined the city's importance as a port, while the opening of numerous banks established its continuing importance as a financial center.

San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge

In 1906, an earthquake and fire devastated San Francisco but with characteristic spirit and determination the residents rebuilt her, grander than ever before. The City hosted the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915 and the World’s Fair in 1939. During the Great Depression, two enormous public works projects helped to strengthen the local economy: the Bay Bridge of 1936 and the Golden Gate Bridge of 1937. The construction of the Golden Gate Bridge was considered to be an impossible feat. It is one of the world's longest suspension bridges, built over icy-cold, shark infested waters. It has the highest bridge towers ever made.

Today, San Francisco is one of the most popular cities in the world, having successfully maintained her international reputation as a center for business and tourism for more than 150 years. In addition, her residents continue to be civic minded, tolerant, and open, blending established and traditional methods with new innovations and creativity.


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About Export Assist
San Francisco Office
Export Assist, Inc.
44 Montgomery St.
Suite 4050
San Francisco, CA 94104

Tel: 800-894-8366
Fax: 888-894-8366


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