San Francisco is the fourth most populous city in California and the 12th most populous city in the United States, with a 2008 estimated population of 808,976. It is one of the most densely populated cities in the United States and is the financial, cultural, and transportation center of the larger San Francisco Bay Area, a region of 7.4 million people. The city is located at the northern end of the San Francisco Peninsula, with the Pacific Ocean to the west and San Francisco Bay to the north and east, and Daly City and Brisbane to the south.
In 1776, the Spanish established a fort at the Golden Gate and a mission named for Francis of Assisi. The California Gold Rush in 1848 propelled the city into a period of rapid growth, transforming it into the largest city on the West Coast at the time. After being devastated by the 1906 earthquake and fire, San Francisco was quickly rebuilt, hosting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition nine years later. During World War II, San Francisco was the port of embarkation for service members shipping out to the Pacific Theater. After the war, the confluence of returning servicemen, massive immigration, liberalizing attitudes, and other factors led to the Summer of Love and the gay rights movement, cementing San Francisco as a liberal bastion in the United States.
Today, San Francisco is a popular international tourist destination renowned for its chilly summer fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of Victorian and modern architecture and its famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, the cable cars, and Chinatown.
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