The only consolidated city-county in California, San Francisco encompasses a
land area of about 46.9 square miles on the northern end of the San Francisco
Peninsula, giving it a density of about 17,867 people per square mile It is the
most densely settled large city in the state of California and the second-most
densely populated major city in the United States after New York City. San
Francisco is the fourth-most populous city in California, after Los Angeles, San
Diego and San Jose, and the 14th-most populous city in the United States. San
Francisco (Spanish for "Saint Francis") was founded in 1776, when colonists from
Spain established a fort at the Golden Gate and a mission named for St. Francis
of Assisi a few miles away. Due to the growth of its population, San Francisco
became a consolidated city-county in 1856. After three-quarters of the city was
destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire, San Francisco was quickly rebuilt.
The San Andreas and Hayward Faults are responsible for much earthquake
activity in the area, although neither physically passes through the city itself.
The San Andreas Fault caused the earthquakes in 1906 and 1989. Minor
earthquakes occur on a regular basis. San Francisco is famous for its hills.
There are more than 50 hills within city limits. Some neighborhoods are named
after the hill on which they are situated, including Nob Hill, Potrero Hill, and
Russian Hill. Near the geographic center of the city, southwest of the downtown
area, are a series of less densely populated hills. Twin Peaks, a pair of hills
forming one of the city's highest points, forms a popular overlook spot. San
Francisco's tallest hill, Mount Davidson, is 925 feet high and is capped with a
103 foot tall cross built in 1934. Dominating this area is Sutro Tower, a large
red and white radio and television transmission tower. San Francisco is a
popular tourist destination, known for its cool summers, fog, eclectic mix of
architecture, and landmarks including the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, the
former prison on Alcatraz Island, and its Chinatown district.