Golden Gate National Recreation Area in California

20 May 2019 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, San Francisco Bay Area, UNESCO World Heritage Reading Time:  7 minutes

Map of Golden Gate National Recreation Area © nps.gov

Map of Golden Gate National Recreation Area © nps.gov

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) is a U.S. National Recreation Area protecting 82,027 acres (33,195 ha) of ecologically and historically significant landscapes surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area. Much of the park is land formerly used by the United States Army. GGNRA is managed by the National Park Service and is one of the most visited units of the National Park system in the United States, with more than 15 million visitors a year. It is also one of the largest urban parks in the world, with a size two-and-a-half times that of the consolidated city and county of San Francisco.   read more…

Theme Week San Francisco

19 June 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, San Francisco Bay Area, Theme Weeks Reading Time:  24 minutes

Market Street and Downtown from Twin Peaks © Vincent.bloch

Market Street and Downtown from Twin Peaks © Vincent.bloch

San Francisco (Spanish for Saint Francis) officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the cultural, commercial, and financial center of Northern California. It is the birthplace of the United Nations. Located at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula, San Francisco is about 47.9 square miles (124 km²) in area, making it the smallest county—and the only consolidated city-county—within the state of California. With a density of about 18,451 people per square mile (7,124 people per km²), San Francisco is the most densely settled large city (population greater than 200,000) in California and the second-most densely populated major city in the United States after New York City. San Francisco is the fourth-most populous city in California, after Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose, and the 13th-most populous city in the United States—with a census-estimated 2015 population of 864,816. The city and its surrounding areas are known as the San Francisco Bay Area, and are a part of the larger OMB-designated San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland combined statistical area, the fifth most populous in the nation with an estimated population of 8.7 million. Several picturesque islandsAlcatraz, Treasure Island and the adjacent Yerba Buena Island, and small portions of Alameda Island, Red Rock Island, and Angel Island—are part of the city. Also included are the uninhabited Farallon Islands, 27 miles (43 km) offshore in the Pacific Ocean. The mainland within the city limits roughly forms a “seven-by-seven-mile square”, a common local colloquialism referring to the city’s shape, though its total area, including water, is nearly 232 square miles (600 km²). San Francisco was founded on June 29, 1776, when colonists from Spain established Presidio of San Francisco at the Golden Gate and Mission San Francisco de Asís named for St. Francis of Assisi a few miles away. The California Gold Rush of 1849 brought rapid growth, making it the largest city on the West Coast at the time. San Francisco became a consolidated city-county in 1856. After three-quarters of the city was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire, San Francisco was quickly rebuilt, hosting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition nine years later. In World War II, San Francisco was the port of embarkation for service members shipping out to the Pacific Theater. After the war, the confluence of returning servicemen, massive immigration, liberalizing attitudes, along with the rise of the “hippie” counterculture, the Sexual Revolution, the Peace Movement growing from opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War, and other factors led to the Summer of Love and the gay rights movement, cementing San Francisco as a center of liberal activism in the United States. A popular tourist destination, San Francisco is known for its cool summers, fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of architecture, and landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, the former Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, Fisherman’s Wharf, and its Chinatown district.   read more…

Theme Week San Francisco – Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay

17 May 2017 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, San Francisco Bay Area Reading Time:  17 minutes

© BLuP1/cc-by-2.5

© BLuP1/cc-by-2.5

Alcatraz Island is located in San Francisco Bay, 1.25 miles (2.01 km) offshore from San Francisco. The small island was developed with facilities for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison (1868), and a federal prison from 1934 until 1963. Beginning in November 1969, the island was occupied for more than 19 months by a group of Native Americans from San Francisco who were part of a wave of Native activism across the nation with public protests through the 1970s. In 1972, Alcatraz became a national recreation area and received designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. Today, the island’s facilities are managed by the National Park Service as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area; it is open to tours. Visitors can reach the island by ferry ride from Pier 33, near Fisherman’s Wharf. Hornblower Cruises & Events, operating under the name Alcatraz Cruises, is the official ferry provider to and from the island. It is home to the abandoned prison, the site of the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast of the United States, early military fortifications, and natural features such as rock pools and a seabird colony (mostly western gulls, cormorants, and egrets). According to a 1971 documentary on the history of Alcatraz, the island measures 1,675 feet (511 m) by 590 feet (180 m) and is 135 feet (41 m) at highest point during mean tide. However, the total area of the island is reported to be 22 acres (8.9 ha). Landmarks on the island include the Main Cellhouse, Dining Hall, Library, Lighthouse, the ruins of the Warden’s House and Officers’ Club, Parade Grounds, Building 64, Water Tower, New Industries Building, Model Industries Building, and the Recreation Yard.   read more…

Theme Week San Francisco – Sausalito

18 July 2015 | Author/Destination: | Rubric: General, San Francisco Bay Area Reading Time:  7 minutes

Sausalito houseboat community © Frank Schulenburg/cc-by-sa-3.0

Sausalito houseboat community © Frank Schulenburg/cc-by-sa-3.0

Sausalito is a San Francisco Bay Area city in Marin County, California. Sausalito is 8 miles (13 km) south-southeast of San Rafael, at an elevation of 13 feet (4 m). The population was 7,061 as of the 2010 census. The community is situated near the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge, and prior to the building of that bridge served as a terminus for rail, car, and ferry traffic. Developed rapidly as a shipbuilding center in World War II, the city’s industrial character gave way in postwar years to a reputation as a wealthy and artistic enclave, a picturesque residential community (incorporating large numbers of houseboats), and a tourist destination. It is adjacent to, and largely bounded by, the protected spaces of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Due to its location at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito receives a steady stream of visitors via the bridge (auto and bicycle traffic) and a ferry service from San Francisco. It retains one of the few ungated marinas in the Bay Area that attracts visitors.   read more…

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