San Francisco, located in northern California between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, is the state's fourth-largest city and the world's largest land-locked harbor. The gold rush of 1849 jump-started San Francisco's development. An influx of immigrants from China and the arrival of railroads connecting the city to the eastern US triggered further growth, making San Francisco the west coast's first cosmopolitan city. During World War II, San Francisco was an important supply center to the Pacific.
Today, San Francisco remains a top commercial hub, with a diverse population of around 805,000, with one of the nation's largest Asian communities and a significant gay/lesbian community. Along with Oakland, San Jose and other communities in the Bay Area, San Francisco is part of the country's fourth-largest metro area with over 7 million people. It has a strong economy, home to thousands of high-tech businesses, primarily in the biotech and silicon industries. Known as Silicon Valley for its prominence in the development of semiconductors and computer-related technology, the area claims the headquarters of industry giants Adobe Systems, Apple, Applied Materials, eBay, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, National Semiconductor, Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.
As one would expect of a cosmopolitan city, San Francisco has a vibrant nightlife, with many options within and around the city. The SOMA area (South of Market Street) is loaded with bars, restaurants and places to enjoy live music. North Beach, between Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf, is another area known for its eateries. A half-hour north of the city, Casino San Pablo offers poker, blackjack and live entertainment. As one of the nation's safest (ranked #8 by Morgan Quitno) and most sophisticated cities, San Francisco is a great place to be.