The city by the bay.
San Francisco: the home of the Golden Gate Bridge; "the rock" Alcatraz and start up companies, has now become the most expensive city to live in within the United States. This has pros and cons for the city. The pros are more businesses want to startup their companies in San Francisco, especially the tech companies. However, the cons are the price that the locals have to pay where property have sky rocketed and there is also an increase in homelessness on the streets. However, San Francisco has not lost its charms in these changing times. It continues to hold on to some of the most visited landmarks in California. 'Till this day tourists continue to flock to San Francisco.
The Golden Gate Bridge is a UNESCO heritage site that begun being built in 1933 and was completed in 1937. The Golden Gate bridge is actually the same colour as the Forth Rail Bridge in Scotland and is only called the Golden Gate Bridge due to the California gold rush. The bridge is a magnificent sight connecting San Francisco to Marin County over the 1600m wide straits of the San Francisco Bay. There are many scenic points to take in the grandeur of the bridge. The most popular points are the Golden Gate visitors centre, Fort Point and Marin Headlands, Hawk Hill. On this trip to San Francisco I managed to get another view point of the bridge by taking a cruise along the San Francisco Bay, sailing under the bridge and around Alcatraz for the bargain price of $15 from pier 45. I highly recommended it.
Alcatraz draws bucket loads of tourists everyday and it's recommended that you book your tickets early if you do not want to miss out. Alcatraz is currently run by The US National Park service but started its day as a military fort before becoming a military prison then a high security prison. During its time as a high security prison, Alcatraz housed some of the most wanted criminals of the United States such as George "Machine Gun" Kelly, Al "Scarface" Capone and Alvin Karpis (the first Public Enemy #1). Alcatraz was also used as political demonstration where Native Americans took over the "rock" as a protest to most of their land being taken away by the American government. The takeover lasted for 3 months and the Native Americans were forcefully removed, but their voices were heard by the government and indeed some land were returned to the Native Americans.
When you visit San Francisco the public transport system can be chaotic at first as there is the BART which are underground trains and a separate entity on it's own. The buses, metro trains and the famous cable cars are run by San Francisco transport agency called MUNI. If you are staying more than 3 days and want to take in all the sights I would recommend that you purchase a MUNI card as a one way trip on the cable car cost US $7 and a 3 day MUNI pass cost US $31. Besides The Golden Gate Bridge there are also other sights to vists such as Pier 39 to see the sea lions; Lombard Street- which is a famous one block hill with 8 hair pin bends- and the Painted Ladies along Alamo Square as well as all the sweeping view points across San Francisco.
If you do not have time to take in all sights, I would ask you to take some time to visit the Castro District of San Francisco where the political activist, Harvey Bernard Milk, ran a camera store on Castro street before his polictical career. Harvey Milk's political career centered on making government responsive to individuals, gay liberation, and the importance of neighborhoods to the city. He was the first openly gay person to be elected into public office in Calfornia. Today the camera store has became a human rights campaign charity but it is really fitting for the work that Harvey Milk had done. Harvey Milk served in public office for 11 months before his assassination in 1978 and was responsible for passing a stringent LGBT rights ordinance for the city of San Francisco. However, it was not until 2013 that same sex marriage became legal in California after the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a lower court's ruling. What makes the Castro District interesting is that it retains the tributes to human rights activism and it's activists and that there continues to be a struggle to overcome all forms of discrimination until this very day.