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san francisco PORTS OF CALL

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  • Attractions

    Alcatraz Island

    From 1934 to 1963, Alcatraz, built on its own island, operated as a Federal Prison. Some of America's most notorious criminals called Alcatraz home at one time or another, including Al Capone, George "Machine Gun" Kelly and, of course, the famous "Birdman of Alcatraz." Departures to the island leave from Pier 41 at Fisherman's Wharf. Reserve early to avoid disappointment, as tickets are limited.

    Chinatown

    The largest Chinese community on the West Coast, and the second largest Chinatown in the U.S. next to New York's, San Francisco's Chinatown is home to one hundred thousand people. The heart of Chinatown is about eight blocks long and has two main streets, Grant and Stockton. The most tourist-oriented street is Grant with many Chinese shops selling souvenirs and Chinese goods.

    Fisherman's Wharf

    You just can't go to San Francisco without going to Fisherman's Wharf. This popular destination possesses an amazing waterfront, fantastic seafood, incredible sites and unique shopping. Nearby is the Maritime Museum, Alcatraz, Coit Tower, the San Francisco Cable Car lines and wonderful views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.

    Golden Gate Bridge

    At a cost of $35 million this bridge is more than a mile and a half long. Built in 1937 to connect San Francisco with Marin County, the Golden Gate has become a well-recognized symbol of San Francisco and can withstand winds of up to 100mph. There is a $3 toll for using the bridge.

    Golden Gate Park

    The park's 1,000 acres of attractions include Strybing Arboretum and Botanical Gardens where 6,000 plant species flourish. Every spring there is a new array of floral beauties such as the flowering cherry blossoms in the Japanesse Tea Garden, lush magenta colored rhododendrons and more than 14,000 tulips and daffodils located near the Dutch Windmill.

    Lombard Street

    Easily the "crookedest street in the world", this is certainly one of San Francisco's most famous landmarks. This street has a 27 percent incline and cars can travel downhill only.

    San Francisco Cable Car Powerhouse and Barn

    Discover the history behind the cable car as you view the cable winding machinery and watch the cars as they enter and leave the building. On exhibit are three antique cable cars, a Sutter street dummy and trailer, and the very first cable car.

  • Shopping

    The Cannery

    Located near Fisherman's Wharf and originally built in 1907, the Cannery is one of San Francisco's most treasured places. Formerly the largest peach cannery in the world, it is now a vibrant waterfront marketplace featuring one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants. The brick warehouse was converted into winding walkways, balconies and bridges on three levels. It surrounds an inviting courtyard with 130 year-old olive trees and several outdoor cafés.

    Ghiradelli Square

    Featuring dining, shopping and self-guided historic tours, it is located in the heart of Fisherman's Wharf.

    Pier 39

    With more than 110 unique shops to choose from, you will find everything you could possibly need including high fashion leather to kites and imported chocolates.

    San José Flea Market

    With over 2000 sellers to choose from, this is a shopper's paradise. Many items, such as collectibles, arts, crafts, jewelry, clothing and shoes, furniture and much, much more, can be yours for a price. And with over 25 restaurants and snack carts, you won't go hungry. For the children there are playgrounds and a carousel.

  • Activities

    Bungee Jumping

    If you are a thrill-seeker then look no further! If you love the feeling of raw terror then this is for you! This company has supervised over 35,000 jumps from bridges, cranes, hot air balloons and towers.

    Hang Gliding

    Fly in a glider beside your instructor from the top of Mt. Tamalpais down to Stinson Beach after only five (gulp) minutes of instruction. Or fly in the Ultralight Aqua-glider over San Francisco Bay, looking down at Alcatraz, Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge. Located 10 miles from San Francisco. Transportation is available.

  • Widlife

    Point Reyes National Seashore

    If bird watching is what gets your heart rate up, then check out the Pointe Reyes National Seashore. There are over 400 species of birds that pass through the park! If you prefer, watch the gray whale migration. They also have lots of hiking trails, camping, biking and much more.

    The San Francisco Zoo

    Over two hundred and fifty species of exotic and domestic mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates call the San Francisco Zoo their home.

  • History

    Highlights of San Francisco's History

    The San Francisco Bay area was discovered and explored by Europeans around 1542 but they were preceded 10,000 to 20,000 years earlier by the native people indigenous to the area. These people were later called the Oholone and they lived in the coastal area between Point Sur and the San Francisco Bay.

    Sir Francis Drake and his crew arrived in 1579 steering their ship into a North Pacific cove. They dubbed the place Nova Albion and stayed five weeks, making repairs to the ship and stocking up on supplies.

    The entrance to San Francisco Bay was discovered in 1769 by Sergeant Jose Ortega.

    The first colonizing party arrived in 1776 and founded the Presidio of San Francisco and Mission Dolores. Mission Dolores is designated as Registered Landmark Number One of the City and County of San Francisco. One of the oldest Mission Churches in California, it is also the oldest intact building in San Francisco. The first mass celebrated at the Mission was on June 29, 1776, just 5 days before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

    Ships from Boston began to visit the Spanish towns and Missions along the California coast in 1820.

    On June 11, 1856, the City and County of California was formed resulting from the cleanup of crime by the Committee of Vigilance and the subsequent improvement in business and prospects. A new county called "San Mateo" was created out of the remainder of the old County of San Francisco.

    Built to protect San Francisco from unknown and ultimately unseen enemies, Fort Point was completed on July 4, 1861. The fort was never fired upon.

    By 1870 San Francisco had become the tenth largest city in the United States. Hotels, restaurants, parks, churches, synagogues, schools, libraries were all signs that San Francisco was now a flourishing urban center.

    San Francisco was wrecked by a devastating earthquake on April 18, 1906 at 5:13 in the morning. It was then destroyed by a great fire that burned for four days. Reevaluated data suggests that the death toll was greater than 3,000. Damage in 1906 dollars was estimated at $500,000,000.

    On November 12, 1936, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was opened. It remains one of the largest bridges in the world and carries more traffic than any other toll bridge - over 270, 000 vehicles every day.

    As early as 1872, the concept of bridging the Golden Gate Strait was proposed by railroad entrepeneur Charles Crocker. Not until 1916, however, was the idea of a bridge revived by James Wilkins, newspaper editor. He began a campaign for a bridge that caught City Engineer Michael M. O'Shaughnessy's attention. O'Shaughnessy began to make inquiries as to the feasability and cost of such a project. The majority of engineers he approached said it could not be done. Some speculated that it would cost over $100 million. Joseph Baermann Strauss, a designer of nearly 400 spans, however, said it was not only feasible, but could be done for only $25 to $30 million. The bridge was built and opened to pedestrian traffic on May 27, 1937. The following day it was opened to vehicles.

    On October 17, 1989, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck the Bay Area and was the worst earthquake since 1906. The tremor caused a section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to collapse. Six people died when the exterior of a brick building at 6th and Bluxome streets in the South Market District collapsed.

    Estimated at almost three billion dollars, damage in San Francisco was only half of the total damage for the entire earthquake zone. Power was knocked out and the city was dark for the first time since the 1906 earthquake and fire. A total of 62 people were killed throughout Central California, 3,757 were injured and more that 12,000 were left homeless.