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Historical Description[]

Despite its great natural harbor, Europeans did not settle in San Francisco until 1776 when a Spanish mission was founded there. 1848 proved to be a pivotal year: gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill on January 24, and nine days later the United States annexed California with the conclusion of the Mexican-American War. San Francisco boomed as a result. Not long after the Gold Rush died down, the Comstock Lode of silver in nearby Nevada sparked another wave of immigration in 1859. That same year, a beloved San Francisco eccentric declared himself Emperor Norton I of the United States. An earthquake and fire killed thousands and leveled the city in 1906, but it was rapidly rebuilt afterward.

The famous Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937. The bridge spans the Golden Gate, the strait connecting San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. During World War II, San Francisco was a major shipbuilding center and the principal port of embarkation for American fleets traveling to the Pacific Theater. While the harbor was crowded with ships, its Japantown - the largest in America - stood empty as the city’s Japanese population was forced into internment camps. Since the war, San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area have been a hub of counterculture and technological innovation.

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