Landmarks and Institutions
The city is renowned for its all-encompassing fogs; soaring bridges; cable cars; busy Market St., with its department stores and office buildings; the Embarcadero, crowded with docks, ships, and cargoes as well as the restored Ferry Building; Fisherman's Wharf, with its seafood restaurants and the center of the city's seafood industry; Chinatown, with its Asian architecture, tearooms, and temples and one of the largest communities of Chinese in the United States; Telegraph Hill; Russian Hill; and Nob Hill, the home of millionaires. Other points of interest are Mission Dolores (1782; at first called San Francisco de Asís); many old mansions built by railroad and mining kings; the Cliff House on Point Lobos, overlooking the Pacific and the rocks, 100 ft (30.5 m) offshore, inhabited by sea lions; and the civic center, with a distinctive Renaissance-style city hall, a modern public library completed in 1996, and the municipally owned opera house, where performances of the symphony orchestra and ballet and opera companies are held. The Presidio, formerly the largest (1,542 acres/624 hectares) military encampment in an American city and now part of the national park system, was headquarters of the Sixth Army and is the site of a national military cemetery; a Disney museum is there.
In Golden Gate Park the California Academy of Sciences building includes a natural history museum, an aquarium, and a planetarium; the city has a zoo and an interactive science museum, the Exploratorium, as well. Art museums include the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (the M. H. De Young Memorial Museum and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor), the Asian Art Museum, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The city also has an arts and garden complex, the Yerba Buena Gardens. Institutions of higher learning in the city include two branches of the Univ. of California (the medical campus at Parnassus Heights and Hastings College of the Law), San Francisco State Univ., the Univ. of San Francisco, and several theological seminaries. The city's professional sports teams are the Giants (National League baseball) and 49ers (National Football League; playing in Santa Clara beginning in 2014).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.