San Francisco Facts You Didn’t Already Know

Sunset view of San Francisco skyline

San Francisco is almost 250 years old! In other words, it is full of history and lore. However, there are plenty of fun facts about San Francisco that you didn’t already know!

Dive deeper than the “San Francisco 10 Fun Factsor Five Facts About San Franciscoyou already know. Do you really know all about San Francisco? Let’s find out!

San Francisco Facts: Clam Chowder Didn’t Always Have Clams

What we know today as “Clam Chowder” originated in 16th-17th century Europe and was a fish and eel chowder eaten by fisherman. Back then, clams were considered food for hogs.

The eel chowder became clam chowder after it came to the east coast of America with the first English settlers. Native Americans introduced clams to the recipe, because they knew of clams’ deliciousness.

Eventually, New England clam chowder made its way to the west coast. San Francisco was the place that clam chowder served in a sourdough bread bowl became popularized!

Fog Harbor Fish House has an Award Winning Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl that you must try on your next visit to Fisherman’s Wharf!

Boat with golden gate bridge behind

The Golden Gate Bridge was Almost Painted Black and Yellow Stripes!

That’s right! The Golden Gate Bridge you know and love was almost painted in black and yellow stripes. At least, that was the U.S. Navy’s plan. Fortunately, Consulting Architect Irving Morrow had the final say and picked the “International Orange” we know and love.¬†Morrow picked the warm color because it blended well with the Bridge’s natural setting while still remaining visible to passing ships.

A gold color might have made more sense given the name. However, the Golden Gate Bridge is not named after the color gold. Rather, it was named after the Golden Gate Strait between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. This Strait was named by Army Captain John C. Fremont in 1946 who said the Strait reminded him of a Turkish harbor named Golden Horn.

Here is another interesting facts about San Francisco: did you know that it takes two years to repaint the Golden Gate Bridge? Repainting the Bridge is important because it protects the Bridge from the salty air which rusts and corrodes steel. Because it takes so long to paint, the Bridge is continuously being repainted throughout the year!

There Really are More Dogs Than Children in San Francisco

This is one of those San Francisco facts and figures we thought was an urban legend. But, this San Francisco city facts is actually true! San Franciscans definitely love their pooches!

KQED looked into this claim and found it to be true. In 2016, there were 115,000 children living in the city while San Franciscans kept between 120,000-150,000 dogs!

Upon further investigation, KQED found that U.S. census data reported that San Francisco has the lowest percentage of children of any major city. Only 18% of San Francisco households have children (U.S. average is 29.4%). They concluded that it is likely due to housing issues, and not a fundamental disdain for children!

Cioppino and white wine with bay and alcatraz behind

Cioppino was Invented Here!

Cioppino was originally developed by the Italian fisherman who lived in Fisherman’s Wharf (then Meigg’s Wharf) in the late 1850s to early 1900s. The cook of the day would prompt “Chip In! Chip In!”, and the fisherman would each contribute components like a fatty fish, Dungeness crab, vegetables, and herbs to the communal stew.

In a thick Italian-American accent “Chip In!” sounded a lot like “Chip-een-o” and thus the name Cioppino was born. Linguists have also theorized that the name comes from the Northern Italian word “ciuppin” which means “to make soup from fish.”

Imagine yourself walking around North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf, hungry after a long day, and you can smell a large pot of fish stew boiling nearby. Fortunately, you can still experience this today at Fog Harbor Fish House, which still serves some of the best cioppino in the city!

Pier 39’s Famous Sea Lions Arrived in 1989

In 1989, the San Francisco Bay area was rocked by the 6.9-magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake. This quake caused 63 deaths, almost 4,000 injuries, and $6 billion in damage. It also prompted sea lions to flock to Pier 39’s K-Dock.

Local business owners originally found the sea lions to be a nuisance (understandably–they can be pretty stinky and messy!). So, they banded together and sought advice from The Marine Mammal Center. Fortunately for us, the experts decided these San Francisco curiosities, Pier 39 sea lions, should be allowed to stay.

The sea lions that hang out at Pier 39 are California sea lions, which are known for their intelligence, playfulness, and loud barking. They also live up to 25 years in the wild! Just remember it is against the law to feed or handle them.

If you’re planning to visit Pier 39, check out this Traveler’s Guide to Pier 39 Things to Do!

Alcatraz was the Only Prison with Hot Water!

Surely you’ve heard plenty of facts about Alcatraz. For example, you might’ve already heard that Alcatraz held the famous Al Capone. But, did you know that Alcatraz was the only federal prison with the luxury of hot water? They say that was to ensure the inmates would not become so accustom to cold water that they would attempt escaping. However, 36 inmates attempted escape, and 5 were never seen again!

You can visit Alcatraz Island and the former federal penitentiary. Make sure to stop by Fog Harbor Fish House for lunch or dinner around your unforgettable trip!

Engagement Party Venues in the Bay Area

Fog Harbor Fish House

Fog Harbor Fish House is a family-owned seafood restaurant in Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. The restaurant overlooks the San Francisco Bay and has incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. Fog Harbor was the first restaurant in Fisherman’s Wharf to exclusively offer sustainable seafood, and the restaurant still maintains this practice today.

Check out Fog Harbor Fish House for your next lunch or dinner in San Francisco. It is the perfect place for everything from a quick Clam Chowder in a Sourdough Bread Bowl to celebrating a birthday.

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Fog Harbor is open 365 days a year, making it the perfect destination year-round!