San Francisco, officially City and County of San Francisco and colloquially known as SF, San Fran, Frisco, or The City, is the cultural, commercial, and financial centre of Northern California. San Francisco is located at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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. San Francisco is also the headquarters of companies such as Twitter, Square, Airbnb, Levi Strauss & Co., Gap Inc., Salesforce, Dropbox, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Uber, and Lyft. The city, and the surrounding Bay Area, is a global centre of the sciences and arts and is home to a number of educational and cultural institutions, such as the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), the University of San Francisco (USF), San Francisco State University (SFSU), the de Young Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the SFJAZZ Center, and the California Academy of Sciences.
According to academic Rob Wilson, San Francisco is a global city, a status that predated the city's popularity during the California Gold Rush. Such cities are characterised by their ethnic clustering, network of international connectivity, and convergence of technological innovation. Global cities, such as San Francisco, are considered to be complex and require a high level of talent as well as large masses of low wage workers. A divide is created within the city of ethnic, typically lower-class neighbourhoods, and expensive ones with newly developed buildings. This in turn creates a population of highly educated, white-collar individuals as well as blue-collar workers, many of whom are immigrants, and who both are drawn to the increasing number of opportunities available. Competition for these opportunities pushes growth and adaptation in world centres.
San Francisco has a diversified service economy, with employment spread across a wide range of professional services, including financial services, tourism, and (increasingly) high technology. In 2016, approximately 27% of workers were employed in professional business services; 14% in leisure and hospitality; 13% in government services; 12% in education and health care; 11% in trade, transportation, and utilities; and 8% in financial activities.
The legacy of the California Gold Rush turned San Francisco into the principal banking and finance centre of the West Coast in the early twentieth century. Montgomery Street in the Financial District became known as the "Wall Street of the West", home to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Wells Fargo corporate headquarters, and the site of the now-defunct Pacific Coast Stock Exchange. Bank of America, a pioneer in making banking services accessible to the middle class, was founded in San Francisco and in the 1960s, built the landmark modern skyscraper at 555 California Street for its corporate headquarters. Many large financial institutions, multinational banks, and venture capital firms are based in or have regional headquarters in the city. With over 30 international financial institutions, six Fortune 500 companies, and a large support infrastructure of professional services—including law, public relations, architecture and design.
Since the 1990s, San Francisco's economy has diversified away from finance and tourism towards the growing fields of high tech, biotechnology, and medical research. Technology jobs accounted for an estimated 8 percent by the end of 2013 of San Francisco's economy. San Francisco became a centre of Internet start-up companies and San Francisco has attracted an increasing share of venture capital investments. In 2004, the city approved a payroll tax exemption for biotechnology companies to foster growth in the Mission Bay neighbourhood, site of a second campus and hospital of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Mission Bay hosts the UCSF Medical Center, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, and Gladstone Institutes, as well as more than 40 private-sector life sciences companies.
The top employer in the city is the city government itself, employing 5.6% of the city's workforce, followed by UCSF with over 25,000 employees. The largest private-sector employer is Salesforce, with 8,500 employees, as of 2018. Small businesses with fewer than 10 employees and self-employed firms make up 85% of city establishments. The growth of national big box and formula retail chains into the city has been made intentionally difficult by political and civic consensus. In an effort to buoy small privately owned businesses in San Francisco and preserve the unique retail personality of the city, the Small Business Commission started a publicity campaign in 2004 to keep a larger share of retail dollars in the local economy, and the Board of Supervisors has used the planning code to limit the neighbourhoods where formula retail establishments can set up shop, an effort affirmed by San Francisco voters. However, by 2016, San Francisco was rated low by small businesses in a Business Friendliness Survey. San Francisco has seen a small resurgence in manufacturing, with more than 4,000 manufacturing jobs across 500 companies. The city's largest manufacturing employer is Anchor Brewing Company, and the largest by revenue is Timbuk2.
San Francisco is a hub for technological driven economic growth in the "new economy" with technology firms and internet content production and social media. San Francisco is a location for companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter to base their tech offices and for their employees. The tech sector's dominance in the Bay Area is internationally recognised and continues to attract new businesses and young entrepreneurs from all over the globe. San Francisco is now widely considered the most important city in the world for new technology startups. A recent high of $7 billion in venture capital was invested in the region. These startup companies hire well educated individuals looking to work in the tech industry, which helps the city have a well educated citizenry. Over 50% of San Franciscans have a four-year university degree, thus the city ranks high in terms of its population's educational level.
Tourism is one of the city's largest private-sector industries, accounting for more than one out of seven jobs in the city. The city's frequent portrayal in music, film, and popular culture has made the city and its landmarks recognisable world-wide. In 2016, it attracted the fifth-highest number of foreign tourists of any city in the United States. More than 25 million visitors arrived in San Francisco in 2016, adding US$9.96 billion to the economy. With a large hotel infrastructure and a world-class convention facility in the Moscone Center, San Francisco is a popular destination for annual conventions and conferences.
Some of the most popular tourist attractions in San Francisco noted by the Travel Channel include the Golden Gate Bridge and Alamo Square Park, which is home to the famous "Painted Ladies". Both of these locations were often used as landscape shots for the hit American sitcom Full House. There is also Lombard Street, known for its "crookedness" and extensive views. Tourists also visit Pier 39, which offers dining, shopping, entertainment, and views of the bay, sun-bathing seals, and the famous Alcatraz Island.
San Francisco also offers tourists cultural and unique nightlife in its neighbourhoods. The new Terminal Project at Pier 27 opened September 25, 2014, as a replacement for the old Pier 35. Itineraries from San Francisco usually include round-trip cruises to Alaska and Mexico.
A heightened interest in conventioneering in San Francisco, marked by the establishment of convention centres such as Yerba Buena, acted as a feeder into the local tourist economy and resulted in an increase in the hotel industry: The city has more than thirty thousand first-class hotel rooms. The commodification of the Castro District has also contributed to San Francisco's tourist economy.
San Francisco is rated Alpha − by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC) which evaluates and ranks the relationships between world cities in the context of globalisation. Alpha level cities are linked to major economic states and regions and into the world economy.
San Francisco is the #8 city in the world according to the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) which evaluates and ranks the competitiveness of the major financial centres of the world according to a wide range of criteria – Human Capital, Business, Finance, Infrastructure and Reputation.
San Francisco is the #18 city in the world according to the Global Power City Index (GPCI) which evaluates and ranks the major cities of the world according to their magnetism, or their comprehensive power to attract people, capital, and enterprises from around the world. It does so through measuring six key functions: Economy, Research and Development, Cultural Interaction, Liveability, Environment, and Accessibility.
San Francisco is ranked #7 by the Global Urban Competitiveness Report (GUCR) which evaluates and ranks world cities in the context of economic competitiveness. San Francisco has a population of over 896,047 people. San Francisco also forms part of the wider San Francisco Bay metropolitan area which has a population of over 12,594,831 people. At full performance the GDP of San Francisco is over $549,000,000,000 USD. San Francisco is the #15 hipster city in the world, with a hipster score of 6.4382 according to the Hipster Index which evaluates and ranks the major cities of the world according to the number of vegan eateries, coffee shops, tattoo studios, vintage boutiques, and record stores per 100,000 city residents.