Distinguished as the only city in California that is simultaneously classified as a county, San Francisco is often described as “one of the most beautiful places on the planet.” Known simply as “The City” by its residents, San Francisco is located on the hilly tip of a peninsula and covers a land mass about twice the size of Manhattan. Supporting a significant population in a relatively small area, the city claims only one large tract of remaining open land that lies in the Mission Bay area between the China Basin and the Central Basin. Other possibilities for significant expansion are only possible with the conversion of former military installations like the Presidio, Treasure Island, and Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard. When considering the Bay Area as a totality, potential for growth is not a problem. Land-rich counties and communities radiate from San Francisco, offering diverse residential possibilities.

Unlike many cities that emphasize growth, San Francisco seems intent upon preserving its unsurpassed quality of life and amazing power of enchantment. Few cities in the world — and certainly no other metropolis on the West Coast — rival San Francisco for sheer sophistication. Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay on the three sides as well as panoramic San Mateo County to the south, San Francisco is the smallest county in California. Now with three quarters of a million people, the city is home to a one of the densest populations in the nation. Still, a feeling of intimacy, acceptance, and “California friendliness” pervades the eclectic mix of neighborhoods and districts.

Tourism is the number one industry in San Francisco, although the city is home to a flourishing and impressive local economy anchored by scores of leading companies that include a significant number of the Fortune 500. A large majority of the employers scattered throughout the city are concentrated in the services, retail, and wholesale trade sectors. While many of these businesses are closely associated to the booming tourism industry, the city also serves as a gateway for world trade and international enterprise. Foreign consulates, trade offices, and significant activity in import, export and foreign investment combine to play a leading role in the economy.

The financial district, anchored by a Federal Reserve Bank and the Pacific Stock Exchange, not only creates tens of thousands of jobs but serves as a focal point for area corporations and businesses of all sizes. The downtown district is still the heartbeat of the retail industry, accounting for many of the city’s retail trade jobs and billions of dollars in gross revenue.

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