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San Francisco Bay Area

San Francisco Bay Area Portal
"Bay Area" redirects here. For other uses, see Bay Area (disambiguation).

The San Francisco Bay Area, commonly known as the Bay Area or the Bay, is a geographically and ethnically diverse metropolitan region that surrounds the San Francisco and San Pablo bays in Northern California.

USGS satellite photo of the San Francisco Bay Area taken in 1999. (Click the image for a description of major features.)

It encompasses large cities such as San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, along with smaller urban and rural areas. Overall, the Bay Area consists of nine counties, 101 cities, and 7,000 square miles.[1] The nine counties are Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma.[2]

San Francisco Bay Area highlighted in red on a map of California

As of July 2006, the Bay Area is home to 7.2 million people[3]. It is one of the wealthiest regions in the United States, according to the United States Census Bureau. The area has the highest median household income in the nation at over $65,000. The Bay Area hosts many cities, towns, military bases, airports, and associated regional, state, and national parks, connected by a massive network of roads, highways, railroads, bridges, tunnels and commuter rail.

While San Jose is the largest city in the Bay Area, having surpassed San Francisco in the 1990 census, for most of its history San Francisco was the area's most populous city. San Francisco remains the focal point and major cultural center in the region.[4][5] In addition to having the highest median household income in the nation, the Bay Area has the highest per capita income of any metropolitan area in the United States[6] and is also one of the most politically liberal areas in the nation.[7] The cost of living is also one of the highest in the nation.[8]

The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the "Golden Gate", the strait connecting the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. It connects San Francisco with Marin County



San Francisco

Main article: San Francisco, California

The City and County of San Francisco is generally placed in a category by itself in terms of geography and culture even within the Bay Area, and is known locally as "The City." It is separated by water from the north, west and east, and by a county line from its neighbor cities to the South. San Francisco has long served as the cultural, financial and urban center of the region. For most of the Bay Area's history, it was the key population center. However, the limitations of the size of the county (47 square miles, making it the second most densely populated major city in the United States after New York City) constrained the growth of the city and, since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, other cities and counties have received the larger share of population growth. Despite these limitations, San Francisco has a larger commuter and daytime population than any other city in the Bay Area.

North Bay

Napa Valley is most famous for its wine.
Main article: North Bay (San Francisco Bay Area)

The region north of the Golden Gate Bridge is known locally as the North Bay. This area consists of Marin County and extends northward into Sonoma County and Napa County and eastward into Solano County. The city of Vallejo, being part of Solano County, is often considered the eastern most city of the North Bay, though due to a stronger cultural/socioeconomic similarity to many East Bay cities, it is also often considered the northern most city of the East Bay. With few exceptions, this region is quite affluent: Marin County is ranked as the wealthiest in the nation. The North Bay is generally the least urbanized part of the Bay Area, with many areas of undeveloped open space, farmland and vineyards. Santa Rosa in Sonoma County is the North Bay's largest city, with a population of 156,200 and a Metropolitan Statistical Area population of 466,477, making it the fifth largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area. The North Bay is the only section of the Bay Area that is not served by a commuter rail transit service, and Sonoma-Marin service was recently voted down. The lack of transportation services is mainly because of the lack of population mass in the North Bay, and the fact that it is separated completely from the rest of the Bay Area by water, the only access points being the Golden Gate Bridge leading to San Francisco, the Richmond-San Rafael and Carquinez Bridges leading to Richmond, and the Benicia-Martinez Bridge leading to Martinez.


View of Colma, California, looking down from San Bruno Mountain
Main article: San Francisco Peninsula

The area between San Francisco and the South Bay is the San Francisco Peninsula, known locally as the Peninsula. This area consists of a series of small cities and suburban communities in San Mateo County and the northwestern part of Santa Clara County, as well as various towns along the Pacific coast, such as Pacifica and Half Moon Bay. This area is extremely diverse, although it contains significant populations of affluent family households with the exception of East Palo Alto and some parts of Redwood City. Many of the cities and towns had originally been centers of rural life until the post-World War II era when large numbers of middle and upper class Bay area residents moved in and developed the small villages. Since the 1980s the area has seen a large growth rate of middle and upper class families who have settled in cities like Palo Alto, Redwood Shores and Atherton as part of the technology boom of Silicon Valley. Many of these families are of foreign background and have significantly contributed to the diversity of the area. The Peninsula is also home to what used to be one of the deadliest cities in the United States, East Palo Alto. Peninsula cities include; Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, Colma, Daly City, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, Menlo Park, Millbrae, Pacifica, Portola Valley, Redwood City, Redwood Shores, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Mateo, South San Francisco and Woodside.

East Bay

Looking west from the Berkeley Hills. Visible clockwise around the bay from the distant Golden Gate (upper center) are Marin County (Upper Right). Albany (Lower Right), Berkeley (Center and foreground), Emeryville (Lower Left), Oakland (Far Lower Left), South San Francisco (Far Upper Left) and San Francisco (Upper Left)
Main article: East Bay (San Francisco Bay Area)

The eastern side of the bay, consisting of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, is known locally as the East Bay. The East Bay is split into two regions, the inner East Bay, which sits on the Bay shoreline, and the outer East Bay, consisting of inland valleys separated from the inner East Bay by hills and mountains.

  • The inner East Bay includes the cities of Oakland, Hayward, Fremont, Berkeley, and Richmond, as well as many smaller suburbs such as Alameda, Castro Valley, Newark, Union City, Emeryville, Albany, San Leandro, San Pablo, El Sobrante,Pinole, Piedmont, and El Cerrito. The inner East Bay is more urban, more densely populated, has a much older building stock (built before World War II) and a more ethnically diverse population. Oakland hosts the region's largest seaport and professional sports franchises in basketball, football, and baseball. As with many inner urban areas, the Inner East Bay also features a high incidence of crime as well as other socio-economic problems. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports, more than 50% of all homicides in the Bay Area in 2002 occurred within the city limits of Oakland and Richmond. The homicide rates have steadily increased, as 2005 had the highest homicide rates for both Richmond and Oakland in many years.
  • The outer East Bay consists of the eastern portions of Alameda and Contra Costa counties and is divided into 4 distinct areas: "Lamorinda," Central Contra Costa County, The San Ramon Valley, and the Livermore-Amador Valley. Lamorinda includes the cities of Orinda, Moraga and Lafayette. Walnut Creek is situated between Lamorinda and the San Ramon Valley, and together with Concord, Martinez, Pittsburg, Antioch, and Pleasant Hill comprises Central Contra Costa County. The cities of Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore, comprise the Livermore-Amador Valley (sometimes joined with the San Ramon Valley and called the Tri-Valley). The San Ramon Valley consists of Alamo, Danville, Diablo and its namesake, San Ramon to the south. The outer East Bay is connected to the inner East Bay by BART, Interstates 80, 580, and 680, and State Route 24 via the Caldecott Tunnel. The outer East Bay is part suburban, part rural and its infrastructure was mostly built up after World War II. This area remains largely white demographically, although the Hispanic population has grown significantly over the past 2-3 decades, particularly in the Concord area.

South Bay

Looking west over northern San Jose (downtown is at far left) and other parts of Silicon Valley
Main articles: South Bay (San Francisco Bay Area) and Silicon Valley

The communities along the southern edge of the Bay are known as the South Bay, Santa Clara Valley, and Silicon Valley. Some Peninsula and East Bay towns are sometimes included in the latter. It includes the major city of San Jose, and its outlying neighbors, including the cities Morgan Hill, Gilroy, and the high-tech hubs of Santa Clara, Milpitas, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto and Mountain View as well as many other suburbs like Los Altos, Saratoga, Campbell and Los Gatos. Generally, the South Bay is Santa Clara County, but the northwest portion of the county (Palo Alto and Mountain View) is often considered part of the Peninsula instead. Home of Silicon Valley, the South Bay was also an early development of working and middle class families who left the coastal cities of the Eastern Bay south of Oakland and Alameda. Large numbers of families during the post-World War era also moved there for the aerospace industry. This area has long been developed and expanded and is often featured as a stereotype of the typical California suburban city. Today, the growth continues, primarily fueled by technology and cheap immigrant workers. The result has been a huge increase in the value of property forcing many middle class families out of the area or into nascent ghettos in older sections of the region.

Befitting of the title Silicon Valley, this region is home to a vast number of technology sector giants. Some notable tech companies headquartered in the South Bay are AMD, Intel, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Apple, Google, eBay, and Yahoo!. As a consequence of the rapid growth of these and other companies, the South Bay has gained increasing political and economic influence both within California and throughout the world.

Santa Cruz and San Benito

Main articles: Santa Cruz County, California and San Benito County, California

The regional governments in the San Francisco Bay Area, including the Association of Bay Area Governments, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board include only the nine counties above in their boundaries or membership. (The BAAQMD includes all of the nine counties except the northern portions of Sonoma and Solano; the RWQCB includes all of San Francisco and the portions of the other eight counties that drain to San Francisco Bay or to the Pacific Ocean.)[9] However, the United States Census Bureau defines the San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland Consolidated Statistical Area as an eleven-county region, including the nine counties above plus Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties. Meanwhile, the California State Parks Department defines the Bay Area as including ten counties,[10] including Santa Cruz but excluding San Benito. On The Other hand, Santa Cruz and San Benito along with Monterey County are part of a different regional government organization called the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments.

Some residents of the Santa Cruz Mountains (Boulder Creek, Brookdale, Ben Lomond, Felton, Scotts Valley) do not usually consider themselves to be residents of the Bay Area, rather just of the Santa Cruz Mountains themselves. The Santa Cruz Mountains run along the spine of the San Francisco Peninsula, beginning in San Francisco and continuing down to their terminus near the City of Gilroy, effectively creating the Santa Clara Valley.

The city of Santa Cruz is geographically isolated from the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area, and is usually considered a part of the Monterey Bay area since the city lies on the north end of the Monterey Bay. The city is also sometimes regarded as the northernmost point of the California Central Coast, which extends along the state's coastline to Santa Barbara.

This partial inclusion of these two counties in the Bay Area is one manifestation of a "spillover" where, because of high housing prices in the Bay Area proper, people with Bay Area jobs purchase homes in outlying areas and endure long commutes. This blurs the outer borders of the Bay Area, which now can be said to spillover not only to the south (Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey counties) but to the Central Valley counties of Sacramento, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Yolo.


Historical populations Census Pop.  %± 1900658,111 — 1910925,708 40.7% 19201,182,911 27.8% 19301,578,009 33.4% 19401,734,308 9.9% 19502,681,322 54.6% 19603,638,939 35.7% 19704,628,199 27.2% 19805,179,784 11.9% 19906,023,577 16.3% 20006,783,760 12.6%

As of 2006 , there were 6,927,555 people residing in the Bay Area. The racial makeup of the 9 County Bay Area was 47.29% White, 19.83% Asian, 0.67% Pacific Islander, 7.32% African American, 0.87% Native American, 9.46% from other races, and 5.28% from two or more races. 19.89% of the population were Hispanic of any race. 29.6% of the population was foreign born.

As of 2006, there were 7,236,391 people residing in the Greater Bay Area. The racial makeup of the 9 County Bay Area plus Santa Cruz and San Benito Counties was 50.41 White, 19.96% Asian, 0.72% Pacific Islander, 7.35% African American, 0.90% Native American, 10.17% from other races, 5.46% from two or more races. 21.19% of the population were Hispanic of any race. 31.8% of the population was foreign born.


The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the wealthiest regions in the United States. According to the United States Census Bureau, of the 280 defined metropolitan areas, the San Francisco Bay Area has the highest median household income in the nation with $62,024 in the year 2000. The Census Bureau also released data in August 2006 citing San José as having the second highest median household income among large cities. Among medium-sized cities, Pleasanton has the highest household income in the country, and Livermore the third highest. Nevertheless, disposable income is very comparable with the rest of the country, largely because the increased cost of living offsets increased income.[11]

While only 26% of households nationwide boast incomes of over $75,000 a year, 48% of households in the San Francisco Bay Area enjoy such incomes.[12] The percentage of households with incomes exceeding the $100,000 mark in the Bay Area was double the nationwide percentage. Roughly one third (31%) of households in the San Francisco Bay Area had a six figure income, versus less than 16% at the nationwide level.[13] In June 2003, a study by Stanford University reviewing US Census Bureau statistics determined the median household income in the San Francisco Bay Area to be roughly 60% above national average.[12] Overall the largest income bracket in the Bay Area were households making between $100,000 and $150,000 annually, who constituted roughly 18% of households.[12] On a national level the largest income bracket were households with incomes between $30,000 and $40,000 who constituted 13% of all households nationwide.[13]

Six of the top ten California places with the highest per capita income are in the San Francisco Bay Area (Belvedere, Atherton, Woodside, Portola Valley, Diablo). Of the 100 highest income counties by per capita income in the United States, six are in the San Francisco Bay Area (Marin, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Alameda). According to Forbes Magazine, published in 2005, 12 of the top 50 most expensive Zip Codes are in the Bay Area (Atherton, Ross, Diablo, Belvedere-Tiburon, Nicasio, Portola Valley, Los Altos-Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos-Monte Sereno, the Cow Hollow-Marina District of San Francisco, Alamo, and Burlingame-Hillsborough). [1]

This graph compares the income distribution among Bay Area households to the national level.[12][13]

Forty-two San Francisco Bay Area residents made the Forbes magazine's 400 richest Americans list, published in 2006.[14] Thirteen live within San Francisco proper, placing it seventh among cities in the world. Among the forty-two were several well-known names such as Steve Jobs, George Lucas, and Charles Schwab. The highest-ranking resident is Larry Ellison of Oracle at No. 4. He is worth $19.5 billion.

A study by Claritas indicates that in 2004, 5% of all households within the San Francisco and San José metropolitan areas held $1 million in investable assets [2], and Wells Fargo estimates that there are 180,000 millionaire households in the Bay Area, 10% of which have $5 million or more in assets [3].

Living expenses

The popularity of the region, owing both to its mild weather and its cultural and economic diversity, combined with strong anti-growth sentiment (both local and statewide), has led to high housing costs, especially for ownership and for commercial property leases. Owing to the relatively lower costs of outlying housing and limited public transportation, long, expensive, and often unpleasant automobile commutes are common in the region, and these costs tend to trickle down throughout various activities, making many other activities such as dining out, theater tickets, etc. more expensive than in other areas of the country. Wages of only a limited portion of the population have kept pace with the increased expenses, and many minimum wage earners, even those holding multiple jobs, (and many families with multiple members employed) are classified as "working poor", while the higher incomes necessary for a satisfactory lifestyle in the region lead to higher taxes, especially at the federal level for persons not qualifying for high mortgage or self employment related deductions. Although most working-class households in the United States earn between $20,000–$30,000 a year, working-class households in the Bay Area earn over $50,000 a year performing the same jobs (such as in the service industry), which would be considered middle-class in other parts of the country. Nevertheless, because of extremely expensive housing costs, disposable income of working-class Bay Area households is only equivalent to the amount of disposable income in other parts of the country because the rest of the income increase goes to pay for an increased cost of living. Therefore, although the great majority of the population is much more affluent (without taking into account the increased costs of living) compared to the rest of the country, the disposable income is nearly identical. This enables low cost goods shops such as variety stores to maintain a presence in the Bay Area.

Political views

The Bay Area is relatively renowned as being among the most liberal areas in the country. According to the Cook Partisan Voting Index (CPVI), congressional districts the Bay Area tend to favor Democratic candidates by roughly 40 percentage points, considerably above the mean for Coastal California or California overall. All but one congressional district in the region voted for John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential Election with only 25% of votes being cast in support of George W. Bush. CPVI ratings ranged from D +14 in San Jose to D +21 in Marin County and D +38 in Barbara Lee's district encompassing Berkeley and Oakland. Nancy Pelosi's district, California's 8th which includes most of the city of San Francisco, had a CPVI rating of D +36 with G. W. Bush having received only 14% of votes in the city.

Over the last four and a half decades the 9 county Bay Area has voted for a Republican candidate only twice, in 1972 for Richard Nixon and in 1980 for Ronald Reagan. The last county to have voted Republican was Napa county in 1988 for George H. W. Bush.

Presidential election results Year DEMGOP200469.2% 1,926,726 29.3% 815,225 200064.1% 1,607,695 30.0% 751,832 199660.5% 1,417,511 28.3% 662,263 199256.2% 1,476,971 25.0% 658,202 198857.8% 1,338,533 40.8% 945,802 198450.8% 1,157,855 47.9% 1,090,115 198040.7% 827,309 44.4% 904,100 197649.9% 950,055 45.8% 872,920 197248.2% 990,560 49.1 1,007,615 196850.8% 890,650 41.3% 725,304 196465.7% 1,116,215 34.1% 579,528 196052.0% 820,860 47.6% 751,719
District Location Cook Partisan Index % for Bush, 2004 Median Household Income[15]Per Capita Income[15]&066th districtMarinand Sonoma CountyD +21 28% $59,115 $33,036 &077th districtRichmond, Vallejo, Vacaville, and PittsburgD +19 32% $52,778 $22,016 &088th districtCity and County of San Francisco D +36 14% $52,322 $34,552 &099th districtOakland, Berkeleyand the Oakland hills D +38 13% $44,314 $25,201 &1010th districtFairfield, Livermore, Pleasant Hill, and ConcordD +09 40% $65,245 $31,093 &1111th districtParts of Contra Costa, Alameda, and Santa Clara counties including Morgan Hill, Pleasanton, and San RamonR +03 54% $61,996 $28,420 &1212th districtSan Francisco Peninsulaincluding most of San Mateo CountyD +22 27% $70,307 $34,448 &1313th districtSilicon Valley and East Bay, including Fremont, Union cityand HaywardD +22 28% $62,415 $26,076 &1414th districtSilicon Valley, including Redwood City, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Palo Altoand Santa CruzD +18 30% $77,985 $43,063 &1515th districtCity of San Jose (western areas) D +14 36% $74,947 $32,617 &1616th districtSan Jose, Morgan HillD +16 36% $67,689 $25,064 Median Districts: 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th D +21.5 28% $65,052 $32,826


Because the hills, mountains, and large bodies of water produce such vast geographic diversity within this region, the Bay Area offers a significant variety of microclimates. The areas near the Pacific Ocean are generally characterized by relatively small temperature variations during the year, with cool foggy summers and mild rainy winters. Inland areas, especially those separated from the ocean by hills or mountains, have hotter summers and colder overnight temperatures during the winter. Few residential areas ever experience snow, but peaks over 2,000 feet (610 m) are often dusted with snow several times each winter (including Mount St. Helena, Mount Hamilton, Mount Diablo, and Mount Tamalpais). The coast north of San Francisco, where year-round cool, moist conditions enable redwoods to grow, has almost nothing in common with Livermore, just 40 miles (64 km) inland across the bay, which has desert-like precipitation and heat. San José at the south end of the Bay averages fewer than 15 inches (380 mm) of rain annually, while Napa at the north end of the Bay averages over 30 and parts of the Santa Cruz Mountains just a few miles west of San José get over 55. In the summer, inland regions can be over 40 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius) warmer than the coast. This large temperature contrast induces a strong pressure gradient, which results in brisk coastal winds which help keep the coastal climate cool and typically, foggy during the summer. Additionally, strong winds are produced through gaps in the coastal ranges such as the Golden Gate, the Carquinez Strait, and the Altamont Pass, the latter the site of extensive wind farms. During the fall and winter seasons, when not stormy, a high pressure area is usually present inland, leading to an offshore flow. While negatively impacting air quality this also clears fog away from the Pacific shore, and so the best weather in San Francisco can usually be found from mid September through mid November. Winter storms are typically short, wet, and mild in temperature, being caused by cold fronts sweeping the eastern Pacific and originating from low pressure systems in the Gulf of Alaska. Occasionally during the Summer, spells of warm humid weather will drift over the Bay Area from the Southwest Monsoon, usually bringing high variable clouds as well, and more rarely, high-based thunderstorms.

Skyline Boulevardstretches through the Santa Cruz Mountains, here near Palo Alto, California. During winter and spring, the hills surrounding the Bay Area are lush and green. Rain is rare in the Bay Area during the summer months. As a result, the surrounding hills quickly become dry and golden-hued in grassy areas.

Geology and landforms

See also: San Francisco Bay

Multiple terranes

The area is well known worldwide for the complexity of its landforms, the region being composed of at least six terranes (continental, seabed, or island arc fragments with distinct characteristics) pushed together over millions of years by the forces of plate tectonics. As a consequence, many types of rock and soil are found in the region. Formations include the sedimentary rocks of sandstone, limestone, and shale in uplifted seabeds, metamorphic serpentine rock, coal deposits, and igneous forms as the basalt flows and ash deposits of extinct volcanos. Pleistocene-era fossils of mammals are abundantly present in some locations.

Vertical relief

The region has considerable vertical relief in its landscapes that are not in the alluvial plains leading to the bay or in inland valleys. In combination with the extensive water regions this has forced the fragmented development of urban and suburban regions and has led to extensive building on poor soils in the limited flatland areas and considerable expense in connecting the various subregions with roads, tunnels, and bridges.

Several mountains are associated with some of the many ridge and hill structures created by compressive forces between the Pacific Plate and the North American plate. These provide spectacular views (in appropriate weather) of large portions of the Bay Area and include Marin County's Mount Tamalpais at 2,571 feet (784 m). Contra Costa County's Mount Diablo at 3,849 feet (1,173 m), Alameda County's Mission Peak at 2,517 feet (767 m), and Santa Clara County's Mount Hamilton at 4,213 ft (1,284 m), the latter with significant astronomical studies performed at its crowning Lick Observatory.

The three major ridge structures (part of the Pacific Coast Range) which are all roughly parallel to the major faultlines:

  • The various ranges which form the spine of the San Francisco Peninsula and Marin County (San Andreas Fault)
  • The Berkeley Hills, San Leandro Hills and their southern ridgeline extension through Mission Peak (Hayward Fault)
  • The Diablo Range, which includes Mount Diablo and Mount Hamilton (Calaveras Fault)

Major waterways

Main article: Hydrography of the San Francisco Bay Area

Earthquake faults

Map showing some of the major faults in the Bay Area. Numerous minor faults are also capable of generating locally destructive earthquakes.

The region is also traversed by six major slip-strike fault systems with hundreds of related faults, many of which are "sister faults" of the infamous San Andreas Fault, all of which are stressed by the relative motion between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate or by compressive stresses between these plates. Significant blind thrust faults (faults with near vertical motion and no surface ruptures) are associated with portions of the Santa Cruz Mountains and the northern reaches of the Diablo Range and Mount Diablo.

Natural hazards


Map showing earthquake amplification due to soil type.

The region is particularly exposed to hazards associated with large earthquakes,[16] owing to a combination of factors:

  • Numerous major active faults in the region.
  • A combined thirty year probability of a major earthquake in excess of seventy percent.
  • Poorly responding native soil conditions in many places near the bay and in inland valleys, soils which amplify shaking as shown in the map to the right.
  • Large areas of filled marshlands and bay muds that are significantly urbanized, with most subject to liquefaction, becoming unable to support structures.
  • A large inventory of older buildings, many of which are expected to perform poorly in a major earthquake.
  • Extensive building in areas subject to landslide, mudslide, and in some locations directly over active fault surface rubble zones.
  • Most lowrise construction is not fireproof and water systems are likely to be extensively damaged and so large areas are subject to destruction by fire after a large earthquake.
  • The coastal location makes the region vulnerable to Pacific Ocean tsunamis.[17]

Some of these hazards are being addressed by seismic retrofitting, education in household seismic safety, and even complete replacement of major structures such as the eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

For an article concerning a typical fault in the region and its associated hazards see Hayward Fault Zone. For projected ground movement after selecting a locality and a generating fault see this ABAG web page


Some flooding occurs on local drainages under sustained wet conditions when the ground becomes saturated, more frequently in the North Bay area, which tends to receive substantially more rainfall than the South Bay. In one case, the Napa River drainage, floodplain developments are being purchased and removed and natural wetlands restored in the innovative Napa River Flood Project as the previous channelization of insufficient capacity around such developments was causing flooding problems upstream. Many of the local creeks have been channelized, although modern practice and some restoration work includes returning the creeks to a natural state with dry stormwater bypasses constructed to handle flooding. While quite expensive, the restoration of a natural environment is of high priority in the intensively urbanized areas of the region.

Windstorms and Wildfires

Typically between late November and early March, a very strong Pacific storm can bring both substantial rainfall (saturating and weakening soil) and strong wind gusts that can cause trees to fall on power lines. Owing to the wide area involved (sometimes hundreds of miles of coast), service can be interrupted for up to several days in some more remote localities, but service is usually restored quickly in urban areas.

In the Spring and Fall, strong offshore winds periodically develop. These winds are an especially dangerous fire hazard in the fall when vegetation is at its driest, as exemplified historically by the 1923 Berkeley Fire and the 1991 Oakland Firestorm.

Mudslides and Landslides

Some geologically unstable areas have been extensively urbanized, and can become mobile due to changes in drainage patterns and grading created for development. These are usually confined to small areas, but there have been larger problems in the Santa Cruz Mountains.


Main article: Transportation in the San Francisco Bay Area
(1) Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, (2) Golden Gate Bridge, (3) San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, (4) San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, (5) Dumbarton Bridge, (6) Carquinez Bridge, (7) Benicia-Martinez Bridge

The Bay Area is served by many public transportation systems, including three international airports (SFO, OAK, SJC), six major overlapping bus transit agencies (AC Transit, Muni, SamTrans, VTA, Golden Gate Transit, County Connection), in addition to dozens of smaller ones. There are four rapid transit and regional rail systems including BART and CalTrain and two light rail systems (San Francisco Muni Metro and VTA Light-rail). There are also several regional rail lines provided by Amtrak, notable the Capitol Corridor. In addition to rail lines, there are multiple public and private ferry services (notably Golden Gate Ferry and Blue and Gold Fleet), which are being expanded by the San Francisco Bay Water Transit Authority. The regional ferry hub is San Francisco Ferry Building. AC Transit and some other agencies provide an extensive network of express "transbay" commuter buses from the suburbs to San Francisco Transbay Terminal.

The freeway and highway system is very extensive; however, many freeways are heavily congested during rush hour, especially the trans-bay bridges (Golden Gate and Bay Bridge). Furthermore there are some large gaps in the highways which run onto city streets in San Francisco, partially due to the Freeway Revolt (SF Board of Supervisors decisions made in 1959, 1964 and 1966), which prevented completion of freeways connecting the San Francisco Bay Bridge western terminus ( Highway 80) with the southern terminus of the Golden Gate Bridge, and Highway 101 through San Francisco, and additionally due to the destruction of several of those very freeway structures that sparked the revolt, which were damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and subsequently removed rather than being reinforced or rebuilt.

Higher education

The region is home to many universities and seminaries, most notably the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, and the University of California, San Francisco. In 2003, there were approximately 545,000 students enrolled in college or graduate school, while approximately 41 percent of residents aged 25 years and over had a bachelors degree or higher.[18] The San Francisco Bay Area population is near the top in the Nation for overall education level. The San Francisco and San Jose PMSAs rank third and fourth in college graduates, ahead of Boston and behind only Boulder–Longmont, Co PMSA and Stamford–Norwalk, CT PMSA. Santa Cruz PMSA ranks eighth and the Oakland PMSA eleventh.[19]


University of California, Berkeley.



Stanford University.

Religious life

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The San Francisco Bay Area has a very diverse religious life with thousands of churches, pagodas, mosques, temples, synagogues, gurdwaras, and other religious centers. The Bay Area is home to Christians, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and numerous other religious communities.


Main article: Sports in San Francisco Bay Area
Team Sport League Venue San Francisco 49ersFootballNational Football LeagueCandlestick ParkOakland RaidersFootballNational Football LeagueMcAfee ColiseumSan Francisco GiantsBaseballNational League(Major League Baseball) AT&T ParkOakland AthleticsBaseballAmerican League(Major League Baseball) McAfee Coliseum Golden State WarriorsBasketballNational Basketball AssociationOracle ArenaSan Jose SharksIce HockeyNational Hockey LeagueHP Pavilion at San JoseSan Jose EarthquakesSoccerMajor League SoccerBuck Shaw StadiumSan Francisco NighthawksSoccerWomen's Premier Soccer LeagueKezar StadiumSan Jose SaberCatsFootballArena Football LeagueHP Pavilion at San Jose San Jose StealthLacrosseNational Lacrosse LeagueHP Pavilion at San Jose San Francisco DragonsLacrosseMajor League LacrosseSpartan StadiumSan Jose GiantsBaseballCalifornia League(Minor League Baseball) San Jose Municipal Stadium
NCAA Division I College Sports


See also: Bay Area thrash metal
See also: Hyphy movement

The San Francisco Bay Area was home to one of the biggest thrash metal scenes in the United States, along with Tampa Bay, Florida. Containing acts like Exodus, Death Angel, Vio-lence, Testament and Metallica (Although Metallica had initially formed in Los Angeles, it wasn't until their relocation to the East Bay area in 1983 that Cliff Burton and Kirk Hammett joined as bassist and lead guitarist, sealing the band's first, formative line-up.), the Bay Area Thrash scene was a huge impact on the Thrash Metal world, as well as the Death Metal scene; as Possessed is considered as one of the first death metal bands.

The Bay Area saw a large punk movement from the 70s to the present. Bands such as the Dead Kennedys, The Avengers, Flipper, D.R.I., M.D.C. and Operation Ivy were popular in the 70s and 80s, with later bands such as Rancid, Green Day and AFI all coming out of Berkeley.

The Bay Area is now the home of the hyphy movement, which was started almost 10 years ago. The genre which was originally pioneered by the rappers Mac Dre, Too Short, Keak Da Sneak, and E-40, is now becoming more popular throughout the world. Hyphy themes such as ghost riding, thizzin' and going dumb are now common in other parts of the country. The Bay Area is also home to the Hieroglyphics hip hop crew, which is composed of local artists including the Souls of Mischief and Del tha Funkee Homosapien.

The popular group GreenDay began in Berkeley as street preformeres, and The Pack, which did the 'Vans' song, is a group of highschool students from the Oakland area.

Regional counties, cities and suburbs

An early 20th century German map


Note: San Benito County and Santa Cruz County are sometimes considered not part of the Bay Area.

Cities and municipalities

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: San Francisco Bay Area


  1. ^ San Francisco Bay Area Vision Project
  2. ^ San Francisco Bay Area Vision Project
  3. ^ Bay Area 2006 Population Census
  4. ^ "Biggest Commuter Cities in the US" CNN article
  5. ^ [ "Alpha & Beta World Cities"
  6. ^ US Census Bureau, household and per capita income during the 2000 Census in metro areas. Retrieved on 2007-06-01.
  7. ^ SF Chronicle, most democratic voting bloc in the state, 2003. Retrieved on 2007-06-12.
  8. ^ San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, 2007
  9. ^ Regional Water Quality Control Board, San Francisco Bay Region (2) Boundaries Accessed 2007-02-20
  10. ^ Find a park - San Francisco Bay Area Region. California State Parks. Retrieved on 2006-06-20.
  11. ^ Pleasanton tops county in median household income. Inside Bay Area. Retrieved on 2006-10-15.
  12. ^ a b c d Stanford University, study of US Department of Commerce statistics concerning income in California. Retrieved on 2006-11-06.
  13. ^ a b c US Census 2005 Economic Survey, income data. Retrieved on 2006-06-29.
  14. ^ 42 Bay Area Residents Make Forbes Richest List - News Story - KNTV | San Francisco
  15. ^ a b US Census Bureau, 2000 Census income data by congressional district. Retrieved on 2008-01-03.
  16. ^ - Maps and information about Bay Area threats including earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis.
  17. ^ Describes Bay Area damage from 1960 tsunami.
  18. ^ U.S. Census Bureau, 2003 American Community Survey, accessed November 5, 2007
  19. ^ 2002 American Community Survey, SELECTED POPULATION CHARACTERISTICIS FOR LARGE METROPOLITAN AREAS, accessed November 5, 2007

External links


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