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SFCentric History: Some of the Coolest Things Said About San Francisco

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San Francisco is an old, iron safe filled with gold, glory, disaster, and secrets. SFCentric History is a column, by SF writer V. Alexandra de F. Szoenyi, that digs in the vaults of local history and shares the sensational people, places, and things that rocked San Francisco.

San Francisco is an incredible city that has left a mark on almost everyone who has visited it. It is hard to put the sentiment into words, but thankfully, there are people who found just the right ones to describe what SF means to them.

Herb Caen. Photo: Russell Yip, The Chronicle

“San Francisco, city of the world, worlds within a city, forty-nine square miles of ups and downs, ins and outs, and going around in circles, most of them dizzy. A small “d” democrat city run by big-buck conservatives, a place where the winds of freedom will blow your mind and your hat off, where eccentricity is the norm and sentimentality the ultimate cynicism. Cable cars and conventions, boosterism living uncomfortable with sophistication, a built-in smugness announcing simply that we are simply the best.” — Herb Caen

Photo: Notey


“Money lives in New York. Power sits in Washington. Freedom sips cappuccino in a sidewalk cafe in San Francisco.” — Joe Flower


“Every man should be allowed to love two cities, his own and San Francisco.” — Gene Fowler

“San Francisco is 49 square miles surrounded by reality.” — Paul Kantner

Photo: Pinterest

“I love San Francisco so much. I call it the Emerald City and have been coming here since 1992. I have a few old friends that live here, and my aunt and uncle live in Oakland. I think it’s a magical city – it’s big, sexy and very ‘cosmo’ with a small-town feel.” — Andy Cohen

“The San Francisco Bay Area is the playpen of countercultures.” — RZ Sheppard

Photo: Like Success

“We’re crazy about this city.  First time we came here, we walked the streets all day – all over town – and nobody hassled us.  People smiled, friendly-like, and we knew we could live here……Los Angeles? That’s just a big parking lot where you buy a hamburger for a trip to San Francisco……And the beautiful old houses and the strange light.  We’ve never been in a city with light like this.  We sit in our hotel room for hours, watching the fog come in, the light change.”  — John Lennon

“Now there’s a grown-up swinging town.” — Frank Sinatra

Photo: Quotefancy

“It is a good thing the early settlers landed on the east coast… if they’d landed in San Francisco, the rest of the country would still be uninhabited.” — Herbert Mye

Photo: AZ Quotes

“San Franciscans “are very proud of their city, and they should be. It’s the most beautiful place in the world.” — Robert Redford