A bus is a road vehicle designed to carry many passengers. Buses can have a capacity as high as 300 passengers; the most common type of bus is the single-deck rigid bus, with larger loads carried by double-decker and articulated buses, smaller loads carried by midibuses and minibuses. Many types of buses, such as city transit buses and inter-city coaches, charge a fare. Other types, such as elementary or secondary school buses or shuttle buses within a post-secondary education campus do not charge a fare. In many jurisdictions, bus drivers require a special licence above and beyond a regular driver's licence. Buses may be used for scheduled bus transport, scheduled coach transport, school transport, private hire, or tourism. Horse-drawn buses were used from the 1820s, followed by steam buses in the 1830s, electric trolleybuses in 1882; the first internal combustion engine buses, or motor buses, were used in 1895. Interest has been growing in hybrid electric buses, fuel cell buses, electric buses, as well as ones powered by compressed natural gas or biodiesel.
As of the 2010s, bus manufacturing is globalised, with the same designs appearing around the world. Bus is a clipped form of the dative plural of omnis-e; the theoretical full name is in French voiture omnibus. The name originates from a mass-transport service started in 1823 by a French corn-mill owner named Stanislas Baudry in Richebourg, a suburb of Nantes. A by-product of his mill was hot water, thus next to it he established a spa business. In order to encourage customers he started a horse-drawn transport service from the city centre of Nantes to his establishment; the first vehicles stopped in front of the shop of a hatter named Omnés, which displayed a large sign inscribed "Omnes Omnibus", a pun on his Latin-sounding surname, omnes being the male and female nominative and accusative form of the Latin adjective omnis-e, combined with omnibus, the dative plural form meaning "for all", thus giving his shop the name "Omnés for all". His transport scheme was a huge success, although not as he had intended as most of his passengers did not visit his spa.
He turned the transport service into his principal lucrative business venture and closed the mill and spa. Nantes citizens soon gave the nickname "omnibus" to the vehicle. Having invented the successful concept Baudry moved to Paris and launched the first omnibus service there in April 1828. A similar service was introduced in London in 1829. Regular intercity bus services by steam-powered buses were pioneered in England in the 1830s by Walter Hancock and by associates of Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, among others, running reliable services over road conditions which were too hazardous for horse-drawn transportation; the first mechanically propelled omnibus appeared on the streets of London on 22 April 1833. Steam carriages were much less to overturn, they travelled faster than horse-drawn carriages, they were much cheaper to run, caused much less damage to the road surface due to their wide tyres. However, the heavy road tolls imposed by the turnpike trusts discouraged steam road vehicles and left the way clear for the horse bus companies, from 1861 onwards, harsh legislation eliminated mechanically propelled vehicles from the roads of Great Britain for 30 years, the Locomotive Act of that year imposing restrictive speed limits on "road locomotives" of 5 mph in towns and cities, 10 mph in the country.
In parallel to the development of the bus was the invention of the electric trolleybus fed through trolley poles by overhead wires. The Siemens brothers, William in England and Ernst Werner in Germany, collaborated on the development of the trolleybus concept. Sir William first proposed the idea in an article to the Journal of the Society of Arts in 1881 as an "...arrangement by which an ordinary omnibus...would have a suspender thrown at intervals from one side of the street to the other, two wires hanging from these suspenders. Although this experimental vehicle fulfilled all the technical criteria of a typical trolleybus, it was dismantled in the same year after the demonstration. Max Schiemann opened a passenger-carrying trolleybus in 1901 in Germany. Although this system operated only until 1904, Schiemann had developed what is now the standard trolleybus current collection system. In the early days, a few other methods of current collection were used. Leeds and Bradford became the first cities to put trolleybuses into service in Great Britain on 20 June 1911.
In Siegerland, two passenger bus lines ran but unprofitably, in 1895 using a six-passenger motor carriage developed from the 1893 Benz Viktoria. Another commercial bus line using the same model Benz omnibuses ran for a short time in 1898 in the rural area around Llandudno, Wales. Daimler produced one of the earliest motor-bus models in 1898, selling a double-decker bus to the Motor Traction Company, first used on the streets of London on 23 April 1898; the vehicle had a maximum speed of 18 km/h and accommodated up to 20 passengers, in an enclosed area below and on an open-air pl
Public transport is transport of passengers by group travel systems available for use by the general public managed on a schedule, operated on established routes, that charge a posted fee for each trip. Examples of public transport include city buses, trolleybuses and passenger trains, rapid transit and ferries. Public transport between cities is dominated by airlines and intercity rail. High-speed rail networks are being developed in many parts of the world. Most public transport systems run along fixed routes with set embarkation/disembarkation points to a prearranged timetable, with the most frequent services running to a headway. However, most public transport trips include other modes of travel, such as passengers walking or catching bus services to access train stations. Share taxis offer on-demand services in many parts of the world, which may compete with fixed public transport lines, or compliment them, by bringing passengers to interchanges. Paratransit is sometimes used for people who need a door-to-door service.
Urban public transit differs distinctly among Asia, North America, Europe. In Asia, profit-driven, privately-owned and publicly traded mass transit and real estate conglomerates predominantly operate public transit systems In North America, municipal transit authorities most run mass transit operations. In Europe, both state-owned and private companies predominantly operate mass transit systems, Public transport services can be profit-driven by use of pay-by-the-distance fares or funded by government subsidies in which flat rate fares are charged to each passenger. Services can be profitable through high usership numbers and high farebox recovery ratios, or can be regulated and subsidised from local or national tax revenue. Subsidised, free of charge services operate in some towns and cities. For geographical and economic reasons, differences exist internationally regarding use and extent of public transport. While countries in the Old World tend to have extensive and frequent systems serving their old and dense cities, many cities of the New World have more sprawl and much less comprehensive public transport.
The International Association of Public Transport is the international network for public transport authorities and operators, policy decision-makers, scientific institutes and the public transport supply and service industry. It has 3,400 members from 92 countries from all over the globe. Conveyances designed for public hire are as old as the first ferries, the earliest public transport was water transport: on land people walked or rode an animal. Ferries appear in Greek mythology—corpses in ancient Greece were buried with a coin underneath their tongue to pay the ferryman Charon to take them to Hades; some historical forms of public transport include the stagecoach, traveling a fixed route between coaching inns, the horse-drawn boat carrying paying passengers, a feature of European canals from their 17th-century origins. The canal itself as a form of infrastructure dates back to antiquity – ancient Egyptians used a canal for freight transportation to bypass the Aswan cataract – and the Chinese built canals for water transportation as far back as the Warring States period which began in the 5th century BCE.
Whether or not those canals were used for for-hire public transport remains unknown. The omnibus, the first organized public transit system within a city, appears to have originated in Paris, France, in 1662, although the service in question failed a few months after its founder, Blaise Pascal, died in August 1662; the omnibus was introduced to London in July 1829. The first passenger horse-drawn railway opened in 1806: it ran between Swansea and Mumbles in southwest Wales in the United Kingdom. In 1825 George Stephenson built the Locomotion for the Stockton and Darlington Railway in northeast England, the first public steam railway in the world; the first successful electric streetcar was built for 12 miles of track for the Union Passenger Railway in Richmond, Virginia in 1888. Electric streetcars could carry heavier passenger loads than predecessors, which reduced fares and stimulated greater transit use. Two years after the Richmond success, over thirty two thousand electric streetcars were operating in America.
Electric streetcars paved the way for the first subway system in America. Before electric streetcars, steam powered subways were considered. However, most people believed that riders would avoid the smoke filled subway tunnels from the steam engines. In 1894, Boston built the first subway in the United States, an electric streetcar line in a 1.5 mile tunnel under Tremont Street’s retail district. Other cities such as New York followed, constructing hundreds of miles of subway in the following decades. Aerial lift Aerial tramway Funifor Chairlift Detachable chairlift Funitel Gondola lift Maritime transport Ferry Cable ferry Reaction ferry Water taxi Land transport Personal public transport Bicycle-sharing system Carsharing Personal rapid transit Rail transport Inter-city rail High-speed rail Maglev Urban rail transit Airport rail link Atmospheric railway Automated guideway transit Cable car Cable railway Commuter rail Elevated railway Funicular Inclined elevator Light rail Medium-capacity rail system Mono
Advanced Passenger Train
The Advanced Passenger Train was a tilting high speed train developed by British Rail during the 1970s and early 1980s, for use on the West Coast Main Line. The WCML contained many curves, the APT pioneered the concept of active tilting to address these, a feature that has since been copied on designs around the world; the experimental APT-E achieved a new British railway speed record on 10 August 1975 when it reached 152.3 miles per hour, only to be bested by the service prototype APT-P at 162.2 miles per hour in December 1979, a record that stood for 23 years. Development of the service prototypes dragged on, by the late 1970s the design had been under construction for a decade and the trains were still not ready for service; the election of Margaret Thatcher brought matters to a head and she alluded to funding cuts for the project. Facing the possibility of cancellation, BR management decided to put the prototypes into service, with the first runs along the London-Glasgow route taking place in December 1981.
The result was a media circus when every problem large or small received front-page coverage and the entire project derided as an example of BR's incompetence. The trains were withdrawn from service again by the end of the month, to the great amusement of the press; the problems were solved and the trains reintroduced in 1984 with much greater success. By this time the competing High Speed Train, powered by a conventional diesel engine and lacking the APT's tilt and performance, had gone through development and testing at a rapid rate and was now forming the backbone of BR's passenger service. All support for the APT project collapsed as anyone in authority distanced themselves from what was being derided as a failure. Plans for a production version, APT-S, were abandoned, the three APT-Ps ran for just over a year before being withdrawn again over the winter of 1985/6. Two of the three sets were broken up, parts of the third sent to the National Railway Museum where it joined the APT-E; the patents for the APT's tilt system were sold to Fiat.
In spite of the APT's troubled history, the design was influential and directly inspired other successful trains. The considerable work on electrification, carried out hand-in-hand with APT was put to good use with newer non-tilting designs like the British Rail Class 91. More the APT's tilt system was returned to the WCML on the British Rail Class 390, based on the Fiat car design and built by Alstom. Other features pioneered on APT, such as the hydrokinetic braking used to stop the train within existing separations, have not been adopted. Following nationalisation of the UK's railways in 1948, British Rail faced significant losses in passengers as the car became more popular through the 1950s and 60s. By 1970, passenger numbers were half what they had been before World War II. In an attempt to maintain some level of profitability, the government commissioned a report that resulted in the abandonment of many lines as part of the 1963 "Beeching Axe". In spite of this significant restructuring, the company was still built on lines that were pre-war, with routings dating into the 1800s.
Maintaining the network was a constant problem and derailments became common. In 1962 Dr. Sydney Jones was hired away from the weapons department at R. A. E. Farnborough with the eventual aim of having him take over as BR's research lead from Colin Ingles, who retired in 1964. Looking into the derailment problem, they found that much of the problem could be traced to a problem known as hunting oscillation; this tended to happen only at high speeds. On the BR network on freight cars with worn wheels, it was being seen at speeds as low as 20 miles per hour. Jones was convinced that hunting oscillation was an effect similar to the problem of aeroelastic flutter encountered in aerodynamics, decided to hire someone from the aeronautics field to investigate it. In October 1962, Alan Wickens was given the position. Wickens was a dynamics expert who had worked at Armstrong Whitworth on the Sea Slug missile and for a period at Canadair in Montreal before returning to the UK and joining the Blue Steel missile project.
When the follow-on Blue Steel II was cancelled in favour of the US designed Skybolt, Wickens left A. V. Roe because he "saw the writing on the wall", he answered an ad for BR, during the interview he replied that he had no knowledge of, little interest in, railway bogie design. It was revealed this was the reason he was hired. Over the next several years, Wickens' team carried out what is considered to be the most detailed study of the dynamics of steel wheels on rails conducted. Starting with incomplete work by F. W. Carter from 1930, the team studied conventional two-axle bogies and discovered that, as Jones had suspected, the problem was dynamic instability. Out of this work came the concept of a critical speed; this work was extended to the unique two-axle bogieless car designs used on the BR freight network, where the problem was further modified by the dynamics of the entire vehicle. Wickens concluded that a properly damped suspension system could eliminate the problem, set about to demonstrate this.
By 1964 this work had produced the first High Speed Freight Vehicle, HSFV-1, a bogieless freight car capable of travelling safely at speeds up to 140 mph. The same work suggested there was no practical upper limit to the achievable speeds in terms of dynamics, that any limitations on maximum performance would be due to other factors like traction or wear on the lines. A series of six HSFV designs would be tested until 1976, the last
Bus rapid transit
Bus rapid transit called a busway or transitway, is a bus-based public transport system designed to improve capacity and reliability relative to a conventional bus system. A BRT system includes roadways that are dedicated to buses, gives priority to buses at intersections where buses may interact with other traffic. BRT aims to combine the capacity and speed of a metro with the flexibility, lower cost and simplicity of a bus system; the first BRT system was the Rede Integrada de Transporte in Curitiba, which entered service in 1974. As of March 2018, a total of 166 cities in six continents have implemented BRT systems, accounting for 4,906 km of BRT lanes and about 32.2 million passengers every day, of which about 19.6 million passengers ride daily in Latin America, which has the most cities with BRT systems, with 54, led by Brazil with 21 cities. The Latin American countries with the most daily ridership are Brazil and Mexico. In the other regions and Iran stand out. TransJakarta is considered as the largest BRT network in the world with 230.9 kilometres of corridors connecting the Indonesian capital city.
Bus rapid transit takes its name from rail rapid transit, which describes a high-capacity urban public-transit system with its own right of way, multiple-car vehicles at short headways, longer stop spacing than traditional streetcars and buses. BRT uses buses on a wide variety of rights-of-way, including mixed traffic, dedicated lanes on surface streets, busways separated from traffic; the expression "BRT" is used in the Americas and China. Critics have charged that the term "bus rapid transit" has sometimes been misapplied to systems that lack most or all the essential features which differentiate it from conventional bus services; the term "bus rapid transit creep" has been used to describe degraded levels of bus service which fall far short of the BRT Standard promoted by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy and other organizations. The first use of a protected busway was the East Side Trolley Tunnel in Rhode Island, it was converted from trolley to bus use in 1948. However, the first BRT system in the world was the OC Transpo system in Canada.
Introduced in 1973, the first element of its BRT system was dedicated bus lanes through the city centre, with platformed stops. The introduction of the first exclusive separate busways occurred in 1983. By 1996, all of the envisioned 31 km Transitway system was in operation; as of 2017, the central part of the Transitway is being converted to a Light Rail Transit, due to the downtown section being operated beyond its designed capacity. The second BRT system in the world was the Rede Integrada de Transporte, implemented in Curitiba, Brazil, in 1974. Most of the elements that have become associated with BRT were innovations first suggested by Curitiba Mayor Architect Jaime Lerner. Just dedicated bus lanes in the center of major arterial roads, in 1980 the Curitiba system added a feeder bus network and inter-zone connections, in 1992 introduced off-board fare collection, enclosed stations, platform-level boarding. Other systems made further innovations, including platooning in Porto Alegre, passing lanes and express service in São Paulo.
In the United States, BRT began in 1977, with Pittsburgh's South Busway, operating on 4.3 miles of exclusive lanes. Its success led to the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway in 1983, a fuller BRT deployment including a dedicated busway of 9.1 miles, traffic signal preemption, peak service headway as low as two minutes. After the opening of the West Busway, 5.1 miles in length in 1990, Pittsburgh’s Busway system is today over 18.5 miles long. In 1995, Ecuador, opened trolleybus BRT; the TransMilenio in Bogotá, opening in 2000, was the first BRT system to combine the best elements of Curitiba's BRT with other BRT advances, achieved the highest capacity and highest speed BRT system in the world. The success of TransMilenio spurred other cities to develop high quality BRT systems. In January 2004 the first BRT in Asia, TransJakarta, opened in Indonesia; as of 2015, at 210 kilometres, it is the longest BRT system in the world. Africa's first BRT system was opened in Lagos, Nigeria, in March 2008 but is considered as a light BRT system by many people.
Johannesburg’s BRT, Rea Vaya, was the first true BRT in Africa, in August 2009, carrying 16,000 daily passengers. Rea Vaya and MIO were the first two systems to combine full BRT with some services that operated in mixed traffic joined the BRT trunk infrastructure. BRT systems include most of the following features: Bus-only lanes make for faster travel and ensure that buses are not delayed by mixed traffic congestion. A median alignment bus-only keeps buses away from busy curb-side side conflicts, where cars and trucks are parking and turning. Separate rights of way may be used such as the elevated Xiamen BRT. Transit malls or'bus streets' may be created in city centers. Fare prepayment at the station, instead of on board the bus, eliminates the delay caused by passengers paying on board. P
Shunting, in railway operations, is the process of sorting items of rolling stock into complete trains, or the reverse. In the United States this activity is known as "switching". Motive power is provided by a locomotive known as a shunter or switcher. Most shunter/switchers are now diesel-powered but steam and electric locomotives have been used. Where locomotives could not be used shunting operations have in the past been effected by horses or capstans; the terms "shunter" and "switcher" are applied not only to locomotives but to employees engaged on the ground with shunting/switching operations. The task of such personnel is dangerous because not only is there the risk of being run over, but on some railway systems—particularly ones that use buffer-and-chain/screw coupling systems—the shunters have to get between the wagons/carriages in order to complete coupling and uncoupling; this was so in the past. The Midland Railway company, for example, kept an ambulance wagon permanently stationed at Toton Yard to give treatment to injured shunters.
The main tool of shunters working with hook-and-chain couplings was a shunting pole, which allowed the shunter to reach between wagons to fasten and unfasten couplings without having physically to go between the vehicles. In the United States, a pole was sometimes used to move cars on adjacent tracks; this procedure was known as "pole switching" or "poling" for short. In these instances, the locomotive or another car was moved to be near the car that needed to be moved; the on-ground railwayman would position a wooden pole, sometimes permanently attached to the locomotive, engage it in the poling pocket of the car that needed to be moved. The engineer would use the pole to push the car on the adjacent track. Before poling pockets or poles were common on switching locomotives, some railroads built specialized poling cars which could be coupled to locomotives that lacked poling pockets; the practice was most prevalent in rail yard operations circa 1900. Poling was the cause of some accidents and in years was discouraged before the practice was abandoned.
Marshalling or classification yard Switcher Switching and terminal railroad Bostel, Nathalie. "Models and algorithms for container allocation problems on trains in a rapid transshipment shunting yard". Transportation Science. 32: 370–379. Boysen, Nils. Et al. "Shunting yard operations: Theoretical aspects and applications". European Journal of Operational Research. 220: 1–14
Public transport bus service
Public transport bus services are based on regular operation of transit buses along a route calling at agreed bus stops according to a published public transport timetable. While there are indications of experiments with public transport in Paris as early as 1662, there is evidence of a scheduled "bus route" from Market Street in Manchester to Pendleton in Salford UK, started by John Greenwood in 1824. Another claim for the first public transport system for general use originated in Nantes, France, in 1826. Stanislas Baudry, a retired army officer who had built public baths using the surplus heat from his flour mill on the city's edge, set up a short route between the center of town and his baths; the service started on the Place du Commerce, outside the hat shop of a M. Omnès, who displayed the motto Omnès Omnibus on his shopfront; when Baudry discovered that passengers were just as interested in getting off at intermediate points as in patronizing his baths, he changed the route's focus. His new voiture omnibus combined the functions of the hired hackney carriage with a stagecoach that travelled a predetermined route from inn to inn, carrying passengers and mail.
His omnibus had wooden benches. In 1828, Baudry went to Paris, where he founded a company under the name Entreprise générale des omnibus de Paris, while his son Edmond Baudry founded two similar companies in Bordeaux and in Lyon. A London newspaper reported on July 4, 1829, that "the new vehicle, called the omnibus, commenced running this morning from Paddington to the City", operated by George Shillibeer; the first omnibus service in New York began in 1829, when Abraham Brower, an entrepreneur who had organized volunteer fire companies, established a route along Broadway starting at Bowling Green. Other American cities soon followed suit: Philadelphia in 1831, Boston in 1835 and Baltimore in 1844. In most cases, the city governments granted a private company—generally a small stableman in the livery or freight-hauling business—an exclusive franchise to operate public coaches along a specified route. In return, the company agreed to maintain certain minimum levels of service. In 1832 the New York omnibus had a rival when the first trams, or streetcars started operation along Bowery, which offered the excellent improvement in amenity of riding on smooth iron rails rather than clattering over granite setts, called "Belgian blocks".
The streetcars were financed by John Mason, a wealthy banker, built by an Irish-American contractor, John Stephenson. The Fifth Avenue Coach Company introduced electric buses to Fifth Avenue in New York in 1898. In 1831, New Yorker Washington Irving remarked of Britain's Reform Act: "The great reform omnibus moves but slowly." Steam buses emerged in the 1830s as competition to the horse-drawn buses. The omnibus extended the reach of the emerging cities; the walk from the former village of Paddington to the business heart of London in the City was a long one for a young man in good condition. The omnibus thus offered the suburbs more access to the inner city; the omnibus encouraged urbanization. The omnibus put city-dwellers if for only half an hour, into previously-unheard-of physical intimacy with strangers, squeezing them together knee-to-knee. Only the poor remained excluded. A new division in urban society now came to the fore, dividing those who kept carriages from those who did not; the idea of the "carriage trade", the folk who never set foot in the streets, who had goods brought out from the shops for their appraisal, has its origins in the omnibus crush.
John D. Hertz founded the Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company in 1923 and sold a majority of shares to General Motors in 1925. From the 1920s General Motors and others started buying up streetcar systems across the United States with a view to replacing them with buses in what became known as the Great American Streetcar Scandal; this was accompanied by a continuing series of technical improvements: pneumatic "balloon" tires during the early 1920s, monocoque body construction in 1931, automatic transmission in 1936, diesel engines in 1936, 50+ passengers in 1948, air suspension in 1953. The arrest of Rosa Parks in 1955 for not giving up her seat to a white man on a public bus is considered one of the catalysts of the Civil Rights Movement within the United States; the names of different types of bus services vary according to local tradition or marketing, although services can be classified into basic types based on route length, the purpose of use and type of bus used. Urban or suburban services is the most common type of public transport bus service and is used to transport large numbers of people in urban areas, or to and from the suburbs to population centres.
Express bus services are services that are intended to run faster than normal bus services, by either operating as a "limited stop" service missing out less busy stops and/or travelling on faster roads such as freeways rather than slower moving local roads. Park and ride bus services are designed to provide an onward passenger journey from a parking lot; these may express services, or part of the standard bus network. Feeder bus services are designed to pick up passengers in a certain locality and take them to a transfer point where they make an onward journey on a trunk service; this can be a rail-based service such as a tram, rapid transit or train. Feeder buses may act as part of a regional coach network. Bus rapid transit is the application of a range of infrastructure and marketing measures to produce public transport bus services that approach the operating characteris
San Francisco the City and County of San Francisco, is the cultural and financial center of Northern California. San Francisco is the 13th-most populous city in the United States, the fourth-most populous in California, with 884,363 residents as of 2017, it covers an area of about 46.89 square miles at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, making it the second-most densely populated large US city, the fifth-most densely populated U. S. county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. San Francisco is part of the fifth-most populous primary statistical area in the United States, the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area; as of 2017, it was the seventh-highest income county in the United States, with a per capita personal income of $119,868. As of 2015, San Francisco proper had a GDP of $154.2 billion, a GDP per capita of $177,968. The San Francisco CSA was the country's third-largest urban economy as of 2017, with a GDP of $907 billion.
Of the 500+ primary statistical areas in the US, the San Francisco CSA had among the highest GDP per capita in 2017, at $93,938. San Francisco was ranked 14th in the world and third in the United States on the Global Financial Centres Index as of September 2018. San Francisco was founded on June 29, 1776, when colonists from Spain established Presidio of San Francisco at the Golden Gate and Mission San Francisco de Asís a few miles away, all named for St. Francis of Assisi; the California Gold Rush of 1849 brought rapid growth, making it the largest city on the West Coast at the time. San Francisco became a consolidated city-county in 1856. San Francisco's status as the West Coast's largest city peaked between 1870 and 1900, when around 25% of California's population resided in the city proper. After three-quarters of the city was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire, San Francisco was rebuilt, hosting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition nine years later. In World War II, San Francisco was a major port of embarkation for service members shipping out to the Pacific Theater.
It became the birthplace of the United Nations in 1945. After the war, the confluence of returning servicemen, significant immigration, liberalizing attitudes, along with the rise of the "hippie" counterculture, the Sexual Revolution, the Peace Movement growing from opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War, other factors led to the Summer of Love and the gay rights movement, cementing San Francisco as a center of liberal activism in the United States. Politically, the city votes along liberal Democratic Party lines. A popular tourist destination, San Francisco is known for its cool summers, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of architecture, landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, the former Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, Fisherman's Wharf, its Chinatown district. San Francisco is the headquarters of five major banking institutions and various other companies such as Levi Strauss & Co. Gap Inc. Fitbit, Salesforce.com, Reddit, Inc. Dolby, Weebly, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Pinterest, Uber, Mozilla, Wikimedia Foundation and Weather Underground.
It is home to a number of educational and cultural institutions, such as the University of San Francisco, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco State University, the De Young Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the California Academy of Sciences. As of 2019, San Francisco is the highest rated American city on world liveability rankings; the earliest archaeological evidence of human habitation of the territory of the city of San Francisco dates to 3000 BC. The Yelamu group of the Ohlone people resided in a few small villages when an overland Spanish exploration party, led by Don Gaspar de Portolà, arrived on November 2, 1769, the first documented European visit to San Francisco Bay. Seven years on March 28, 1776, the Spanish established the Presidio of San Francisco, followed by a mission, Mission San Francisco de Asís, established by the Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza. Upon independence from Spain in 1821, the area became part of Mexico. Under Mexican rule, the mission system ended, its lands became privatized.
In 1835, Englishman William Richardson erected the first independent homestead, near a boat anchorage around what is today Portsmouth Square. Together with Alcalde Francisco de Haro, he laid out a street plan for the expanded settlement, the town, named Yerba Buena, began to attract American settlers. Commodore John D. Sloat claimed California for the United States on July 7, 1846, during the Mexican–American War, Captain John B. Montgomery arrived to claim Yerba Buena two days later. Yerba Buena was renamed San Francisco on January 30 of the next year, Mexico ceded the territory to the United States at the end of the war. Despite its attractive location as a port and naval base, San Francisco was still a small settlement with inhospitable geography; the California Gold Rush brought a flood of treasure seekers. With their sourdough bread in tow, prospectors accumulated in San Francisco over rival Benicia, raising the population from 1,000 in 1848 to 25,000 by December 1849; the promise of great wealth was so strong that crews on arriving vessels deserted and rushed off to the gold fields, leaving behind a forest of masts in San Francisco harbor.
Some of these 500 abandoned ships were used at times as storeships and hotels.