San Francisco has a relatively young history, just like the state of California. It was inhabited by the Ohlone Indians prior to European discovery of California in the 1500’s, and the Golden Gate (San Francisco Bay) in 1769. The Spaniards were the first European occupants, and called the city Yerba Buena. It was the discovery of gold in California in 1848 that brought rapid growth to the city. In 1906, most of the buildings in the city were lost to an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.5 on the Richter scale, and a subsequent fire. In 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge was opened, at the time the longest suspension bridge in the world with a span length of 4,200 feet, 1,280 meters.
San Francisco has always been very ethnically and culturally diverse, which is the source of much of its charm. There are world class restaurants serving food of every nationality in neighborhoods with rich cultural heritages, such as Chinatown and North Beach, also called Little Italy. Because the western United States is large and was settled relatively recently, San Francisco adjoins many unique and beautiful natural lands that have not been developed. It sits between the majestic Pacific Ocean to the west, beautiful San Francisco Bay to the east, with the Sierra Nevada mountains and Lake Tahoe only three hours further east, the Napa and Sonoma Wine Country to the north, and Silicon Valley and the coastal communities of Monterey and Carmel to the south.