Portal:San Francisco Bay Area

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The San Francisco Bay Area Portal

California Bay Area county map
SF Bay area USGS.jpg

The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area, is a populated region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo estuaries in Northern California, United States. The region encompasses the major cities and metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas. The Bay Area's nine counties are Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma. Home to approximately 7.44 million people, the nine-county Bay Area contains many cities, towns, airports, and associated regional, state, and national parks, connected by a network of roads, highways, railroads, bridges, tunnels and commuter rail. The combined urban area of San Francisco and San Jose is the second largest in California (after the Greater Los Angeles area), the fifth largest in the United States, and the 56th largest urban area in the world.

The United States Office of Management and Budget (OMB) does not use the nine-county definition of the San Francisco Bay Area. The OMB has designated a more extensive 12-county Combined Statistical Area (CSA) titled the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area which also includes the three counties of San Joaquin, Santa Cruz, and San Benito that do not border San Francisco Bay, but are economically tied to the nine counties that do. The southernmost portion of Sacramento County has direct access to Suisun Bay, which lies immediately to the east of San Pablo Bay, but is not counted as one of the counties of the Bay Area.

The San Francisco Bay Area is known for its natural beauty, liberal politics, entrepreneurship, and diversity. The area has high incomes, performing above the state median household income in the 2010 census; it includes the five highest California counties by per capita income and two of the top 25 wealthiest counties in the United States. Based on a 2013 population report from the California Department of Finance, the Bay Area is the only region in California where the rate of people migrating in from other areas in the United States is greater than the rate of those leaving the region, led by Alameda and Contra Costa counties. (more...)

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Fruitvale BART station, near where Grant was killed
Oscar Grant III was fatally shot by BART Police officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California, United States, in the early morning hours of New Year's Day 2009. Responding to reports of a fight on a crowded Bay Area Rapid Transit train returning from San Francisco, BART Police officers detained Grant and several other passengers on the platform at the Fruitvale BART Station. Officer Johannes Mehserle and another officer were restraining Grant, who was lying face down and allegedly resisting arrest. Officer Mehserle stood and, according to his attorney, said: "Get back, I'm gonna Tase him." Then Mehserle drew his gun and shot Grant once in the back. During his court testimony, Mehserle said that Grant then exclaimed, "You shot me!" Grant was unarmed; he was pronounced dead the next morning at Highland Hospital in Oakland.

The events were captured on multiple digital video and cell phone cameras. The footage was disseminated to media outlets and to various websites, where it was watched millions of times. The following days saw both peaceful and violent protests. (more...)

Selected biography

Medical Marijuana ID offices, San Francisco
Mary Jane Rathbun (December 22, 1922 – April 10, 1999), popularly known as Brownie Mary, was an American medical cannabis activist. As a hospital volunteer at San Francisco General Hospital, she became known for illegally baking and distributing cannabis brownies to AIDS patients. Along with activist Dennis Peron, Rathbun lobbied for the legalization of cannabis for medical use, and she helped pass San Francisco Proposition P (1991) and California Proposition 215 (1996) to achieve those goals. She also contributed to the establishment of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club, the first medical cannabis dispensary in the United States.

Rathbun was arrested on three occasions, with each arrest bringing increased local, national, and international media attention to the medical cannabis movement. Her grandmotherly appearance generated public sympathy for her cause and undermined attempts by the district attorney's office to prosecute her for possession. The City of San Francisco eventually gave Rathbun permission to distribute cannabis brownies to people with AIDS. Her arrests generated interest in the medical community and motivated researchers to propose one of the first clinical trials to study the effects of cannabinoids in HIV-infected adults. (more...)

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Alameda City Hall (Alameda, CA) 2.JPG
Alameda is a city in Alameda County, California, United States. It is located on Alameda Island and Bay Farm Island, and is adjacent to and west of Oakland and in eastern San Francisco Bay across from San Francisco and South San Francisco, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bay Farm Island, a portion of which is also known as "Harbor Bay Isle", is not actually an island, and is part of the mainland adjacent to the Oakland International Airport. In 2014 the city had a total population of 75,467. Alameda is a charter city, rather than a general law city, allowing the city to provide for any form of government. Alameda became a charter city and adopted a council–manager government in 1916, which it retains to the present. (more...)

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Barrel room at Merryvale.jpg
Barrel and tasting room, Merryvale Vineyards, St. Helena, Napa Valley
image credit: John

Recently in the Bay Area

Kearny Street, San Francisco
Protesters against Donald Trump, San Francisco
Oakland "Ghost Ship" warehouse fire
Uber self driving car (October 2016)
Kevin Starr
Trump inauguration protest SF Jan 20 2017
"Bridge Together Golden Gate"
San Bruno explosion and fires, at night
Protesters at San Francisco International Airport, 2017
Representative Mike Honda speaks at a San Francisco protest of Executive_Order_13769 in February 2017
Series of Storms Battering California Tracked by NASA's AIRS Instrument
Third Street, San Francisco
Anderson Lake dam and spillway
Warm Springs BART station on opening day
The United States of America, Arthur Szyk (1945)
Robert Taylor in 2008

The Bay Area by year

Selected historical image

Did you know...

El Cid Campeador
Kimpton Sir Francis Drake Hotel rooftop
"Cheese Cake" by Sheana Davis

 • ... that Charlotte L. Brown was one of the first African Americans to legally challenge racial segregation in the United States, when she filed a lawsuit against a streetcar company in San Francisco in the 1860's, after she was forcibly removed from a segregated streetcar?
 • ... that Bay Area restaurateur Juanita Musson often argued with and insulted her staff and customers, and was involved in a number of physical altercations, but was despite this still well-liked?
 • ... that a copy of El Cid Campeador, a sculpture of El Cid by artist Anna Hyatt Huntington, is displayed at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco? (sculpture pictured)
 • ... that in 1969, artist Alfred Young helped create a public environmental art piece, using a non-toxic yellow dye to spell out the word "OIL" in large capital letters in the San Francisco Bay? (artist's sketch of later work pictured)
 • ... that San Francisco columnist Herb Caen dubbed the Persian Room at San Francisco's Sir Francis Drake Hotel “The Snake Pit” because, he wrote, “You never heard such hissing or saw such writhing"? (rooftop pictured)
 • ... that cheesemaker and restaurateur Sheana Davis produces her cheeses at a cooperative in Berkeley, and provides them to the French Laundry and Kendall-Jackson? (Cheese "Cake" by Davis pictured)

Previous Did you know...

Galilee, built in Benicia, California
Phoenix SF fire department.jpg

March/April 2011

Selected periodic event

Luther Burbank Home and Gardens

The Luther Burbank Rose Parade and Festival is an annual festival held in Santa Rosa celebrating the work of Luther Burbank, and centered on the Luther Burbank Home and Gardens (pictured). It began in 1894, and today has a budget of $100,000, with up to 250,000 attending.


~ Ambrose Bierce, on San Francisco
*more quotes about San Francisco from Wikiquote

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Bay Area regions, geographic features and protected areas

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GoldenGateBridge-001.jpg You are invited to participate in the San Francisco Bay Area task force, a task force dedicated to developing and improving articles about the San Francisco Bay Area.

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