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SF Bay area USGS.jpg

The San Francisco Bay Area (referred to locally as the Bay Area) is a populous region surrounding the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California. The region encompasses the major cities and metropolitan areas of San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland, along with smaller urban and rural areas. The Bay Area's nine counties are Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma. Home to approximately 7.68 million people, the nine-county Bay Area contains many cities, towns, airports, and associated regional, state, and national parks, connected by a network of roads, highways, railroads, bridges, tunnels, and commuter rail. The combined statistical area of the region is the second-largest in California (after the Greater Los Angeles area), the fifth-largest in the United States, and the 43rd-largest urban area in the world with 8.80 million people.

The Bay Area has the second-most Fortune 500 companies in the United States, after the New York metropolitan area, and is known for its natural beauty, liberal politics, entrepreneurship, and diversity. The area ranks second in highest density of college graduates, after the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and performs above the state median household income in the 2010 census; it includes the five highest California counties by per capita income and two of the top 25 wealthiest counties in the United States. Based on a 2013 population report from the California Department of Finance, the Bay Area is the only region in California where the rate of people migrating in from other areas in the United States is greater than the rate of those leaving the region, led by Alameda and Contra Costa counties. (more...)

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I-480 from Hyatt Regency ca 1988.jpg
The Vaillancourt Fountain, sometimes called Quebec libre!, is a large fountain located in Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco, designed by the Québécois artist Armand Vaillancourt in 1971. It is about 40 feet (12 m) high and is constructed out of precast concrete square tubes. Long considered controversial because of its stark, modernist appearance, there have been several unsuccessful proposals to demolish the fountain over the years. It was the site of a free concert by U2 in 1987, when lead singer Bono spray painted graffiti on the fountain and was both praised and criticized for the action.

The fountain is located in a highly visible spot on the downtown San Francisco waterfront, in Justin Herman Plaza, where Market Street meets The Embarcadero. The Hyatt Regency Hotel is at the edge of the plaza, adjacent to the other four highrise towers of the Embarcadero Center. Across The Embarcadero is the Ferry Building, and the eastern end of the California Street cable car line is on the other side of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. When the fountain was constructed, the two-level Embarcadero Freeway separated Justin Herman Plaza from the waterfront, creating a massive backdrop for the fountain. (more...)

Selected biography

Installation of Hedrick's 1967 "War Room"
Wally Bill Hedrick (1928 in Pasadena, California – December 17, 2003 in Bodega Bay, California) was a seminal American artist in the 1950s California counterculture, gallerist, and educator who came to prominence in the early 1960s. Hedrick’s contributions to art include pioneering artworks in psychedelic light art, mechanical kinetic sculpture, junk/assemblage sculpture, Pop Art, and (California) Funk Art. Later in his life, he was a recognized forerunner in Happenings, Conceptual Art, Bad Painting, Neo-Expressionism, and image appropriation. Hedrick was also a key figure in the first important public manifestation of the Beat Generation when he helped to organize the Six Gallery Reading, and created the first artistic denunciation of American foreign policy in Vietnam. Wally Hedrick was known as an “idea artist” long before the label “conceptual art” entered the art world, and experimented with innovative use of language in art. (more...)

Selected city

Foster City Aerial.jpg
Foster City is a planned city located in San Mateo County, California, 94404. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 30,567. Forbes ranked Foster City #10 on their 2009 list of America's Top 25 Towns to Live Well. Money has also recognized Foster City multiple times as one of the Best Places to Live. Foster City is sometimes considered to be part of Silicon Valley for its local industry and its proximity to Silicon Valley cities.

Foster City was founded in the 1960s on engineered landfill in the marshes of the San Francisco Bay, on the east edge of San Mateo. The city was named after T. Jack Foster, a real estate magnate who owned much of the land comprising the city and who was instrumental in its initial design. His successor firm, Foster Enterprises, run by his descendants, is still active in real estate affairs throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. (more...)

Selected image


The Bay Area by year

1948
Doggie Diner head
San Francisco Boy's Chorus
Vesuvio Cafe

 • The Point Reyes Light weekly newspaper begins publishing in Marin County
 • The San Francisco Boys Chorus (pictured) is formed
 • Stanford University School of Humanities and Sciences is created from the merger of the Schools of Biological Sciences, Humanities, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences
 • Beat Generation hangout Vesuvio Cafe (pictured) opens in San Francisco
 • Westlake Shopping Center opens in Daly City
 • Richard Diebenkorn has his first art exhibit at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco
 • The Doggie Diner fast food restaurant opens in Oakland (later iconic doggie head pictured)

Selected historical image

Did you know...

Emiko Omori and Victor Wong
Tim Stearns
The Oceanic, 1871
Ghost Ship warehouse interior

 • ... that filmmaker Emiko Omori (pictured, left, with Victor Wong) began her career in 1968 at KQED, becoming one of the first camerawomen to work in news documentaries?
 • ... that Fisher Creek is tributary to the largest freshwater wetland in Santa Clara County, Laguna Seca, a seasonal lake important to groundwater recharge and migratory birds?
 • ... that San Francisco based architect Jack Hillmer is known for his meticulously hand-crafted Modernist homes built from redwood, and was an exponent of what Lewis Mumford called the "Bay Region style"?
 • ... that Stanford University Department of Biology chairman Tim Stearns (pictured), together with his wife, medical researcher Susan Cleveland, tend a fruit tree orchard at their home in Redwood City?
 • ... that the Occidental and Oriental Steamship Company's flagship, the Oceanic (pictured), set a Pacific crossing record of 16 days and 10 hours, 8 days less than the ships of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company?
 • ... that the building consumed in the 2016 Oakland warehouse fire had at least ten complaints filed on it since 1998? (interior damage pictured)
 • ... that after Agnes Fay Morgan conducted a nutritional study with foxes, she presented her data wearing a stole made from the fur of her subjects?

Previous Did you know...

Yung See San Fong House.jpg
Syncaris pacifica


March 2007

Selected periodic event

The Susan Comstock Quintet in 2010

The Cotati Jazz Festival is an annual free music festival held in Cotati since 1980. It typically takes place on Father's Day weekend in mid-June. (the Susan Comstock Quintet pictured)

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John Steinbeck 1962.jpg
~ John Steinbeck,
*more quotes about San Francisco from Wikiquote

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