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California Bay Area county map
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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Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary

The Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary or United States Penitentiary, Alcatraz Island (often just referred to as Alcatraz) was a maximum high security Federal prison on Alcatraz Island, off the coast of San Francisco, California, USA, which operated from 1934 to 1963.

The main prison building was built in 1910-12 during the time it was a United States Army military prison; Alcatraz was the site of a citadel from the 1860s. The United States Disciplinary Barracks on Alcatraz was acquired by the United States Department of Justice on October 12, 1933, and the island became a Federal Bureau of Prisons federal prison in August 1934, after the buildings were modernized to meet the requirements of a top-notch security prison. Given this high security and the location of Alcatraz in the cold waters and strong currents of San Francisco Bay, at least a mile off the coast, the prison operators believed Alcatraz to be inescapable and America's strongest prison. (more...)

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Alexander Shulgin cropped.jpg
Alexander Theodore "Sasha" Shulgin (June 17, 1925 – June 2, 2014) was an American medicinal chemist, biochemist, pharmacologist, psychopharmacologist, and author. Shulgin is credited with introducing MDMA (also known as "ecstasy") to psychologists in the late 1970s for psychopharmaceutical use. He discovered, synthesized, and personally bioassayed over 230 psychoactive compounds, and evaluated them for their psychedelic and/or entactogenic potential.

In 1991 and 1997, he and his wife Ann Shulgin authored the books PiHKAL and TiHKAL (standing for Phenethylamines and Tryptamines I Have Known And Loved), which extensively described their work and personal experiences with these two classes of psychoactive drugs. Shulgin performed seminal work into the descriptive synthesis of many of these compounds. Some of Shulgin's noteworthy discoveries include compounds of the 2C* family (such as 2C-B) and compounds of the DOx family (such as DOM).

Due in part to Shulgin's extensive work in the field of psychedelic research and the rational drug design of psychedelic drugs, he has since been dubbed the "godfather of psychedelics". (more...)

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Old Courthouse Square, Downtown Santa Rosa
Santa Rosa is the county seat of Sonoma County, California United States. The 2012 census reported a population of 170,685. Santa Rosa is the largest city in California's North Coast, Wine Country and the North Bay; the fifth most populous city in the San Francisco Bay Area after San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremont; and the 26th most populous city in California. (more...)

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Shortest day.jpg
Water tower, Elmira, California
image credit: Robert Couse-Baker

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1963
Contemporary BAM/PFA building

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Historic American Buildings Survey Nelson Collection, McCoy Label Co., S.F. Circa - 1876 VIEW DURING ERECTION - U. S. Sub-Treasury and Mint, 608 Commercial Street, San HABS CAL,38-SANFRA,17-3.tif
Construction of the San Francisco Mint, 608 Commercial Street, San Francisco (1876)

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...

Seagull at Bodega Bay - Stierch.jpg
The estuary of the Russian River.jpg

2004

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San Francisco Boys Chorus, past performers at the festival

Midsummer Mozart Festival is an annual music festival that exclusively features the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The festival was founded by George Cleve in 1974 and is held at various venues across the San Francisco Bay Area. (The San Francisco Boys Chorus, past performers, pictured)

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HERBCAEN1990SFphotoNancyWong.jpg
~ Herb Caen, on San Francisco (ca. 1949)
*more quotes about San Francisco from Wikiquote

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