California Counties
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California Counties

The state of California is divided into fifty-eight counties. On January 4, 1850, the California constitutional committee recommended the formation of 18 counties. They were Benicia, Butte, Fremont, Los Angeles, Mariposa, Monterey, Mount Diablo, Oro, Redding, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Sonoma, and Sutter. The last California county to have been established is Imperial County in 1907.

San Francisco County, California

San Francisco County Education, Geography, and HistorySan Francisco County, Califronia Courthouse

San Francisco County, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the cultural, commercial, and financial center of Northern California and the only consolidated city-county in California.  With a Census-estimated 2014 population of 852,469. The county seat is San Francisco. The city and its surrounding areas are known as the San Francisco Bay Area. The county was created February, 18, 1850. The sixth mission in California was established here by Padre Junipero Serra on October 9, 1776, and was named Mission San Francisco de Asis a la Laguna de los Dolores (Saint Francis of Assisi at the Lagoon of Sorrows).

Etymology - Origin of San Francisco County Name

The sixth mission in California was established here by Padre Junipero Serra on October 9, 1776, and was named Mission San Francisco de Asis a la Laguna de los Dolores (Saint Francis of Assisi at the Lagoon of Sorrows). The mission is now known as "Mission Dolores."


County QuickFacts: CensusBureau Quick Facts

County History

California grows as the discovery of gold in 1848 drives people westward. As a result of this growth institutions are established and in 1850 the California Legislature created the original counties, including San Francisco (18 Feb). The San Francisco County government was established on 1 April while on April 15th the City of San Francisco was incorporated by act of the legislature. Later, California became the 31st state admitted to the Union (9 Sep).

The City and County of San Francisco is the fourth most populous city in California and the 14th most populous city. The city is located at the tip of the San Francisco Peninsula, with the Pacific Ocean to the west, San Francisco Bay to the east, and the Golden Gate to the north.

 The county has a density of about 18,187 people per square mile (7,022 people per km2), making it the most densely settled large city (population greater than 200,000) in the state of California and the second-most densely populated major city in the United States after New York City.

San Francisco Historical Timeline

10,000 B.C About 10,000 to 20,000 years ago, the Bay area was inhabited by the native people indigenous to the area, later to be called the Ohlone (a Miwok Indian word meaning "western people"). The Ohlone, composed of forty or so culturally diverse native tribes was a mobile society of hunter-gatherers that lived in the coastal area between Point Sur and the San Francisco Bay.

1542 Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed along the coast near San Francisco and discovered the Farallones (16 Nov). Later in 1575 Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeno landed in Drake's Bay, claimed the land for Spain, and named it Puerto de San Francisco. In 1579 Sir Francis Drake landed in Drake's Bay, claimed the land for England, and named it Nova Albion.

1769 Scouts, including Jose Francisco Ortega, from a Spanish expedition led by Don Gaspar de Portola discovered the Golden Gate (2 Nov).

1776 A Spanish expedition led by Juan Bautista de Anza reached the Presidio (27 Mar) while a colonization party led by Lieutenant Moraga reached the original site of Mission Dolores (27 June). The United States of America declared its Independence from Britain (July 4). The Mission of San Francisco de Asis was officially dedicated (9 Oct).

1846 As the Mexican-American War unfolded, the United States took possession of a portion of California which included San Francisco (7 July). That year Yerba Buena (founded in 1835) was renamed San Francisco by an ordinance published in the California Star newspaper by Washington A. Bartlett, Chief Magistrate

1850 California grows as the discovery of gold in 1848 drives people westward. As a result of this growth institutions are established and in 1850 the California Legislature created the original counties, including San Francisco (18 Feb). The San Francisco County government was established on 1 April while on April 15th the City of San Francisco was incorporated by act of the legislature. Later, California became the 31st state admitted to the Union (9 Sep).

1856 The Consolidation Act of 1856, combining the City and County of San Francisco went into effect (1 July). In 1856 San Francisco had a population of 30,000.

1861 The current Fort Point was completed to defend San Francisco(15 Feb). This was also the year when the Civil War began when Confederate forces assaulted Fort Sumter (12 Apr).

1865 San Francisco was hit on Oct. 8th, 1865, by a great earthquake that caused extensive damage in the City. Unfortunately even more damage and loss of life occurred when the City was hit by another severe earthquake at 7:53 A.M. on October 22, 1868.

1873 Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss, obtained a patent for the jeans, and began selling them in the same year. In the same year, Andrew S. Hallidie tested his first cable car system near the top of Nob Hill at Clay and Jones Streets (2 Aug). The next month the Clay Street line started public service.

1906 The Great Earthquake struck on April 18, 1906, at 5:12 a.m. It's magnitude was 8.25 on the Richter scale, and it lasted 49 seconds. The Great Fire that followed caused more damage than the earthquake, destroying about 28,000 buildings. About 3,000 were thought to have died that day while 225,000 were left homeless.

1915 San Francisco builds a Palace of Fine Arts as it hosts the Panama Pacific International Exposition (20 Feb - 4 Dec). Dedication of new City Hall by Mayor James Rolph (28 Dec). San Francisco is a growing city as the US prepares to enter World War I.

1923 A portion of Lombard Street was created into "the crookedest street in the world."Also the Steinhart Aquarium and Golden Gate Park, opened to public (29 Sep).

1933 The Coit Tower on Telegraph hill was completed. The tower was named after Lillie Hitchcock Coit, philanthropist and admirer of the fire fighters at the 1906 earthquake fire, who left funds to the City for beautification of San Francisco. As a result, it is not a coincidence that the 210 ft. tall art deco Tower's design is reminiscent of a fire hose nozzle.

1936 After the Great depression, the New Deal period leads to the construction of major public works. The Bay Bridge was officially opened on November 12, 1936 to connect San Francisco with Oakland and the east bay. The 8.25 miles long bridge was built using 152,000 tons of steel and 1 million cubic yards of concrete.

1937 The Golden Gate Bridge was officially opened to pedestrian traffic on May 27, 1937 and to vehicular traffic the next day. The total length of the bridge that many engineers said that could not be built was 1.7 miles. The width of the Bridge is 90 ft while the total original combined weight of the Bridge, anchorages, and approaches was 894,500 tons or 811,500,000 kg.

1941 On Dec. 8, 1941 the United States enters World War II after Japanese forces attack the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Shortly thereafter, Japanese people are evacuated in San Francisco and other cities. World war II will show the world terror as 40 million people die on battlefields, gas chambers and gulags: Hitler's Nazi, National-Socialist regime, slaughters millions of Jews while Stalin's Communist regime starves to death millions of Russians.

1945 The United Nations World Charter of Security was signed in San Francisco (26 June) as the world begins its road to relative peace: World War II had ended with the surrender of the German Nazi (7 May) and the Japanese (14 Aug) forces after the US takes Berlin and drops nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki..

1972 Transamerica Pyramid was officially opened. It has 48 stories with a total height of 853 feet, including the 212-foot spire. Construction had begun in 1969. It took about 16,000 cubic yards of concrete, encasing more than 300 miles of steel reinforcing rods to build the pyramid.

1978 Dan White, a disgruntled ex-city supervisor walked into City Hall and killed Harvey Milk, a popular gay city supervisor, and Mayor George Moscone (27 Nov). The killing of Moscone automatically thrust Dianne Feinstein, then president of the Board of Supervisors, into the role of acting mayor. She was subsequently elected to two terms as mayor and later to the US Senate.

1989 Late Tuesday afternoon at 5:05 p.m., an earthquake (magnitude 7.1) occurred along the San Andreas fault (17 October). The tremor collapsed a section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge but fortunately caused only 6 deaths. The damage however was estimated at almost three billion dollars in San Francisco, which was approximately one-half of the total damage figure for the entire earthquake zone.

2001 On Sept. 11 middle eastern terrorists crash airplanes into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in DC and in Pennsylvania. The attacks caused 3,000 deaths and would subsequently lead the US into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The economic recession that followed, as the investment bubble burst, hit California's and San Francisco's economies hard with thousand of IT ventures and jobs lost.

Geography: Land and Water

San Francisco encompasses a land area of about 46.9 square miles (121 km2) on the northern end of the San Francisco Peninsula, which makes it the smallest county in the state.

San Francisco is located on the West Coast of the US at the tip of the San Francisco Peninsula and includes significant stretches of the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay within its boundaries. Several islands are part of the city, notably Alcatraz, Treasure Island, and the adjacent Yerba Buena Island, together with small portions of Alameda Island, Angel Island, and Red Rock Island. 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.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Alameda County, CA to the east
  • Marin County, CA to the north
  • San Mateo County, CA to the south


The University of California, San Francisco is the sole campus of the University of California system entirely dedicated to graduate education in health and biomedical sciences. It is ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States and operates the UCSF Medical Center, which ranks among the top 15 hospitals in the country. UCSF is a major local employer, second in size only to the city and county government. A 43-acre (170,000 m2) Mission Bay campus was opened in 2003, complementing its original facility in Parnassus Heights. It contains research space and facilities to foster biotechnology and life sciences entrepreneurship and will double the size of UCSF's research enterprise. All in all, UCSF operates more than 20 facilities across San Francisco. The University of California, Hastings College of the Law, founded in Civic Center in 1878, is the oldest law school in California and claims more judges on the state bench than any other institution. San Francisco's two University of California institutions have recently formed an official affiliation in the UCSF/UC Hastings Consortium on Law, Science & Health Policy.

San Francisco State University is part of the California State University system and is located near Lake Merced. The school has approximately 30,000 students and awards undergraduate, master's and doctoral degrees in more than 100 disciplines. The City College of San Francisco, with its main facility in the Ingleside district, is one of the largest two-year community colleges in the country. It has an enrollment of about 100,000 students and offers an extensive continuing education program.

Founded in 1855, the University of San Francisco, a private Jesuit university located on Lone Mountain, is the oldest institution of higher education in San Francisco and one of the oldest universities established west of the Mississippi River. Golden Gate University is a private, nonsectarian, coeducational university formed in 1901 and located in the Financial District. With an enrollment of 13,000 students, the Academy of Art University is the largest institute of art and design in the nation. Founded in 1871, the San Francisco Art Institute is the oldest art school west of the Mississippi. The California College of the Arts, located north of Potrero Hill, has programs in architecture, fine arts, design, and writing. The San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the only independent music school on the West Coast, grants degrees in orchestral instruments, chamber music, composition, and conducting. The California Culinary Academy, associated with the Le Cordon Bleu program, offers programs in the culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, and hospitality and restaurant management. California Institute of Integral Studies, founded in 1968, offers a variety of graduate programs in its Schools of Professional Psychology & Health, and Consciousness and Transformation.

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