Beyond the Golden Gate: 35 Intriguing Facts About San Francisco


1The Poop Patrol

The Poop Patrol

“The Poop Patrol” is a group in San Francisco consisting of 5 people who get paid $184,000 annually to clean feces off the streets.

2. In 1900 at a college football game in San Francisco, hundreds of people climbed on to the roof of a glass factory to watch the game. When the roof collapsed they were dumped into a hot glass furnace where 22 died and hundreds were injured.

3. Edsel Ford Fong was a restaurant server at the Sam Wo Restaurant in San Francisco who was called the “world’s rudest, worst, most insulting waiter.” Fong was known for seating people with strangers, criticizing customers’ menu choices, slamming food on the table, and busing tables before people finished eating.

4. In San Francisco, the homeless can take care of puppies and get paid for it.

5. The California Fur Rush which started in early to mid-19th century happened in large part due to sizeable beaver and otter populations. This helped open up the west and especially the San Francisco area to world trade. However, this drove many mammal populations to the brink of extinction.

6Burying the Dead

Burying the Dead

Burying the dead has been illegal in San Francisco since 1901. Because space was limited and real estate at a premium even back then, the city outlawed burials and moved all cemeteries to neighbor Colma, California.

7. In a CIA program called "Operation Midnight Climax", prostitutes were enlisted by the CIA to lure men to 'safehouses' in San Francisco where they were administered LSD without their consent. CIA Agents would then watch them have sex with the prostitutes through one-way mirrors.

8. Alcatraz's prison guards created the myths about man-eating sharks and the deadly waters of San Francisco to discourage prisoners from escaping. There is only one recorded shark fatality in San Francisco which took place back in 1959.

9. Big circles of brick set in the pavement of some San Francisco intersections aren't meant as old-timey street decoration. They mark buried emergency water tanks in case the city ever catches fire again. They were put in after The Great Fire of 1906 (the big earthquake then broke water mains).

10. Anchor Steam brewing of San Francisco released a batch of beer in upside-down labels on purpose. It was the beer that was brewed during the earthquake which was affected due to loss of power.

11Joshua Abraham Norton

Joshua Abraham Norton

In 1867, when a San Francisco policeman wanted to involuntarily commit an insane but harmless man (Joshua Abraham Norton) who declared himself emperor, the police chief refused, saying “that he had shed no blood; robbed no one; and despoiled no country; which is more than can be said of his fellows in that line.”

12. There was an Anti-Mask League, an organization formed to protest the requirement for people in San Francisco to wear masks during the 1918 influenza pandemic.

13. The San Francisco victory riots of 1945 was a night of uncontrolled looting and rioting that followed the news of the end of World War 2. It involved thousands of drunken soldiers and sailors, leading to 11 dead, 1,000 injured, and 30 streetcars disabled.

14. There was a church named Yardbird Temple in San Francisco that worshiped jazz saxophonist John Coltrane as God incarnate.

15. San Francisco’s LBGT culture was rooted in the gold rush when the city’s population was 95% men. The unbalanced gender ratio made things such as cross-dressing and same-sex dancing commonplace.

16Karl the Fog

Karl the Fog

The famous fog that San Francisco is known for, has a name: Karl. Karl has an Instagram page with more than 250,000 followers.

17. San Francisco's Treasure Island is radioactive because it was once a navy nuclear facility, and they botched the cleanup.

18. The San Francisco Bay has an average depth of only about "a swimming pool - 12 to 15 feet."

19. In 1993, the entire city of San Francisco voted on whether a police offer (Bob Geary) could keep a ventriloquist dummy (Brendan O’Smarty) with him on patrol. The officer won.

20. During the San Francisco Police Department Strike of 1975, the SFPD clashed with the law and the Mayor. Eventfully a bomb was detonated on the Mayor's lawn with a sign reading "Don't Threaten Us."

21Botto Bistro

Botto Bistro

Botto Bistro, an Italian restaurant in San Francisco, started a campaign “Hate us on Yelp” to become the worst-rated restaurant in Yelp. It also offered a 25% discount to customers who gave it a 1-star review on Yelp.

22. Tanforan Racetrack which is 10 miles south of San Francisco, was used as an internment camp and forced detention processing center for Japanese Americans during World War 2. It’s now a shopping mall.

23. “Manilatown” in San Francisco was one of USA’s first Filipino American communities. In the 1960s, the community was getting destroyed due to city development and forced eviction, which led to an anti-eviction/tenants’ rights campaign that helped rent control laws to be established in 1979.

24. In the Great San Francisco earthquake of 1906, three men were caught alive on the roof of a hotel that was ablaze. Rather than see the men fall and be burned alive, a nearby military officer ordered his men to shoot them.

25. San Francisco is both a City and its own County. It's the only consolidated City-County in California.