Why do people move to San Francisco? Is it for the singular landscape, all dramatic hills and breathtaking coastline, the perfect topography for fog to cling to or completely engulf? Is it for the chance to live in proximity to that world-famous bridge, a monumental feat of engineering in International Orange, a gateway for people and ideas from all over the world? Perhaps it’s the city’s history as the birthplace of counterculture — after all, progressive views in politics, the arts and technology are constantly percolating here, brewing entire movements and new industries.
Whatever the reason, San Francisco transplants join the city’s great migratory tradition and boomtown reputation. Back in the days of the Gold Rush, throngs of prospectors converged on the area, gaze trained upon the glint of them thar hills, while these days fortune seekers arriving within S.F.’s 47 square miles have another promising frontier in their sights — technology. In fact, more than half of California’s tech jobs are located in the Bay Area, and San Francisco’s biggest employer is the marketing software company Salesforce. Pre-COVID, nearly 10,000 employees were headquartered in its 61-story East Cut skyscraper. Genentech, Wells Fargo Bank, Sutter Health and Kaiser Permanente also employ large swaths of San Francisco’s workforce.
But art was here long before tech. The list of literary icons and visual artists that have called the city home is legendarily lengthy, including late poet Maya Angelou, author Dave Eggers, sculptor Richard Serra, painter Wayne Thiebaud and the late Ruth Asawa, known for her ethereal, net-like works in wire. There are 44 museums and other cultural institutions here, some of the most prominent set in the bucolic 1,000-acre environs of Golden Gate Park. The culinary scene is equally vibrant, home to sourdough pioneers, legendary seafood counters and upstart taco spots serving quesabirria to legions of clamoring fans.