San Francisco Bay Area , CA
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San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area or the Bay, is a metropolitan area surrounding the San Francisco Bay in the Pacific Coast of Northern California. The bay, a shallow strip of water some 3-12 mile wide (east-west) and 50-60 miles long (north-south), is surrounded by large cities such as San Francisco (west), Oakland (east), and San Jose (south). San Francisco, located on the San Francisco Peninsula, is the financial and culture center. The south edge of the bay, center around San Jose, is known for its high density of hi-tech enterprises, including IT giants such as Google, Intel, HP, Cisco, Apple... The south bay, together with some nearby peninsula and east bay cities, are collectively known as the Silicon Valley. The following pix are view of bay with San Francisco in the background. The last pix was taken in Berkeley Hill, with University of California, Berkeley in the foreground.
Take a look at the bay from the sky.
The South Bay. From Don Edward Wildlife Reserve (1st and 2nd pix, with Dombarton Bridge in the background), Fremont Hill (3rd & 4th pix), Russian Ridge (5th pic, overlooking Stanford University).
The San Francisco Bay remains one of California's most important natural habitats, which include most of California's few remaining salty marshes.
The Golden Gate. The San Francisco Bay is connect to the Pacific Ocean by a narrow strait known as the Golden Gate. Spanning across the Golden Gate, is the most beautiful bridge in the world (at least in my opinion). Completed in 1937, the bridge had the longest suspension bridge span in the world at the time (1,280m) and was lauded an engineering wonder. The brilliant red-orange color makes the bridge so outstanding yet so agreeable with its natural surrounding; its aesthetic appeal is at least equally marvelous to its engineering achievement. In fact the Golden Gate Bridge is rated "the most photographed bridge in the world" by Frommer's Travel Guide.
The Bay Bridge, connecting Oakland, Treasure Island, and San Francisco, is actually older (by 6 months), much longer, and more heavily used than the Golden Gate Bridge. It's a handsome, nicely-built bridge too; put it anywhere else, it could be a local attraction. But unfortunately, in the Bay, its fame is completely eclipsed by its glamorous neighbor, the Golden Gate Bridge. The truth is, Bay Bridge is hardly known outside the Bay Area. Such is life.
Right in the middle of the San Francisco Bay is the small Alcatraz Island, better known as the Rock. It was originally a lighthouse, then a military site, then a military prison, and a more famously period as a federal prison until 1963. Its famous guests include the heavy-weight crime lord Al Carpone, Robert Stround "the Birdman of Alcatraz," and George "Machine Gun" Kelly. In its 29 years of operation, the prison boasted that no one ever escape from it alive. Part of the reason is the freezing water in the bay. To swimming to the shore in any direction is extremely challenging physically.
The city by the bay. San Francisco is known to Chinese as the "Golden Mountain," which commemorates the Gold Rush starting 1848 that brought prosperity to the city. The city actually was founded much earlier in 1776 as a Spanish presidio plus a mission. Over the years, the city has enjoyed the Gold Rush, suffered a major earthquake and fire (1906, one of the worst natural disaster in US history), quickly recovered and hosted the Panama-Pacific Exposition (1915), lived through WW-II, seen hippies come and gone (late 1960s), witnessed the rise of gay right movement (post-WWII-present)... the last two events have established San Francisco as the national capital of liberalism. What haven't changed over the years is the chilly summer fog (recall Mark Twain's remark "the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco"), the steep hilly streets, the cable cars, and the gorgeous Golden Gate Bridge. Today San Francisco is the core of the San Francisco Bay Area, its financial, cultural center, and the nation's second most densely-populated city (after New York). Considering its friendly climate, diverse cultures, natural beauty, and great food, San Francisco is with no doubt one of the best places to live in the states, if you can afford it.
Downtown San Francisco. You can enjoy the iconic cable cars to tour around the steep hilly streets (last 3 pix). In the last pic the conductors are turning the cable car in a terminal.
The most famous and representative among the hilly San Francisco streets is a segment of steep and winding Lombard Street on Russian Hill. To accommodate its 27 degree slope, the one-way street makes eight very sharp turns, which earn its reputation as "the most winding street in the world." Try to drive there at least once when come to SF, you'll love it. From a distance, overlooking the Lombard street is the Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill (last 2 pix), a monument to the city at the bequest of a local celebrity Lillie Hitchcock Coit.
San Francisco City Hall was a Beaux-Arts style building completed in 1915 after the original City Hall was damaged in the 1906 earth quake. The inside of the building looks just as magnificent.
The Sts. Peter and Paul Church is a Roman Catholic church in the North Beach neighborhood. On its front steps was where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio took their wedding photos. The funny thing was, DiMaggio was divorced legally but did not obtain a annulment of marriage from the church. From the church's perspective, he is still religiously married man, and thus is not allowed to have a wedding inside the church. So they had to settle on a symbolic photo session right outside the church.
Fisherman's Wharf. The most popular attraction along the piers by the San Francisco Bay, with some 12 million visitors each year. The Ferry Building in Pier 1 (1st 2 pix) is the famous landmark.
Pier 39 was a rest stop for Sea Lions, then a famous tourist attraction. In the winter months, there could be as many as 900 sea lions laying their lazy bodies on the piers, enjoying a sun bath. However, they never showed up in the winter of 2009, due to the rise of water temperature and decline of fish population in the bay. Marine biologists trace this group of sea lions and reported that they migrated to Oregon.
Sea birds. Western Gull (Larus occidentalis, 3 pix) and Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus, 2 pix).
Hyde Street Pier, a historic ferry piers cy was the primary auto ferry prior to the opening of the Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge. Now it is a historic landmark in the Fisherman's Wharf. Several old ships are preserved here. In the first 3 pix is Baclutha, a sail ship built in 1886. In the last pic is Hercules, a stem tugboat built in 1907.
Love these antique cars displayed in the ferry boat Eureka.
The Palace of Fine Art. It was built in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. The design was inspired by Greek and Roman architecture.
Gold Gate Park is a large urban recreational area (covering some 1,017 acres) not too far from the Gold Gate Bridge. It's one of the most-visited city park in the US.
Don't miss the Japanese Tea Garden in the park. Have a cup of fine Japanese tea while enjoying the subtlety of Japanese gardening.
San Francisco Chinatown. Pictures were taken in the Moon Festival of 2002. Kids in Kung Fu school were performing the traditional Cantonese style dragon and lion dance. People in the parade dressed as Chinese mythical characters. SF Chinatown really reminds me of the street scenes in Hong Kong or Canton.
Our School and Our Laboratory. University of California at Berkeley (often referred to as Cal), a world-class research university, is across the bay from San Francisco and north of Oakland. Having been here for a long time (from undergrad to PhD) I have plenty to say about my school: the best public university in the US and thus in the world; home of 19 Nobel laureates and 5 Pulitzer winners; the only university in the periodic table (element 97: Berkelium and element 98: Californium) ... The list goes on and on. On the hillside above the university lies Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a world-renown science and engineering research facility, where I worked as a graduate student. From the hill, we have a great view of the San Francisco bay and the Berkeley campus.
Stanford University. Old rivalry of Berkeley across the bay. When two great universities are that close to each other, hostility is inevitable. So it comes the crossfire, the Big Game (football game between Cal and Stanford) every year, and the mocking T-shirt sold in campus book stores... but that's what make life exciting.
Cantor Center for Visual Art in Stanford University. The bronze statues collection, especially the works of Rodin, are impressive. I particularly like that vivid young girl's bronze bust in the middle.
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