San Francisco, California
The Host City
San Francisco, California, is the host-city for Society of Toxicology’s 51st Annual Meeting & ToxExpo. Scientific Sessions will be held at the Moscone Convention Center during the week of March 11–15, 2012.
San Francisco is one of the top tourist destinations in the United States; famous for scenic beauty, cultural attractions, diverse communities, and world-class cuisine. San Francisco’s landmarks include the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, Chinatown, Union Square, and North Beach.
Located at the edge of the city’s dynamic South of Market district, the Moscone Convention Center is just four blocks from Union Square, the City’s vibrant shopping district and the Powell Street cable car station to Nob Hill, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s Wharf. Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) and Muni Metro stations are within two blocks. Whatever your taste buds desire, there’s a creative culinary answer waiting for you on every corner.
San Francisco’s corrugated surface is home to more than 40 neighborhoods, if not more. The claims to fame and the local lore in these neighborhoods are all a wonderful, exuberant part of the “Only in San Francisco” experience. No two neighborhoods are alike and each is worth a closer look.
San Francisco is the capital of fun, but the pleasure of visiting Northern California doesn’t stop at the city limits. There’s another world just beyond the bridge, where city lights give way to the shade of ancient redwood groves, dazzling skyscrapers morph into majestic, snow-capped peaks, and the sheer energy of the streets of San Francisco is transformed into the unhurried pace of a hundred small towns and countless country lanes. California, in its glorious variety, awaits just a few minutes or a few hours away.
For more information, visit the SOT San Francisco Travel Web site.
San Francisco Area Activities
One of the nicest things about visiting San Francisco is that, although the city is “big” in terms of attractions and amenities, it is geographically small—only 49 square miles. Consequently, it is very easy to see and do a great many things in a short period of time.
It also is easy to spend weeks in San Francisco and still not experience everything the city has to offer. Here is a suggested list of the top 10 things not to miss in San Francisco, according to the San Francisco Travel Association:
- The Golden Gate Bridge, the most famous bridge in the world, manages to impress even the most experienced travelers with its stunning 1.7 mile span. Approximately 120,000 automobiles drive across it every day. A pedestrian walkway also allows the crossing on foot, and bikes are allowed on the western side. The Golden Gate Bridge is said to be one of the most photographed things on Earth.
- Cable cars have been transporting people around San Francisco since the late 19th century. The cars run on tracks and are moved by an underground cable on three routes. Their familiar bells can be heard ringing from blocks away. Tickets ($5) may be purchased at the cable car turnarounds at the ends of each route. Each one-way ride will provide spectacular views of the city’s celebrated hills as well as exhilarating transportation. Visit the San Francisco cable car website for more information.
- Alcatraz, the notorious former prison, is located on an island of the same name in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Some of the United States’ most notorious criminals were incarcerated there. Though several tried, no inmate ever made a successful escape from “The Rock.” The prison was closed in the 1960s and stories about Alcatraz are legendary. A visit to Alcatraz today is fascinating. Recorded cell-house tours are available, allowing visitors to learn about the prison as they explore the buildings and grounds. To reach the island, take an Alcatraz Cruises ferry from Pier 43. Advance reservations are recommended from 415.981.ROCK (7625) or the Alcatraz website.
- Fisherman’s Wharf is also home to Pier 39, a festive waterfront marketplace that is one of the city’s most popular attractions. A community of California sea lions has taken up residence on the floats to the west of the pier and visitors line the nearby railing to watch their antics. From there it’s a short walk to the Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe It
or Not!, and the famous crab vendors selling walk-away crab and shrimp cocktails. Visit the Fisherman’s Wharf website for more information.
- Union Square is the place for serious shoppers. Major department stores and the most exclusive designer boutiques line streets like Post, Sutter, Geary, Grant, Stockton, and Powell. The Westfield San Francisco Centre houses the largest Bloomingdale’s outside of New York and the second largest Nordstrom in the United States.
- North Beach, the city’s Italian quarter, isn’t a beach at all. It’s a neighborhood of romantic European-style sidewalk cafes, restaurants, and shops centered near Washington Square along Columbus and Grant avenues. The beautiful Church of Saints Peter and Paul is a beloved landmark. Coit Tower atop Telegraph Hill offers a splendid vantage point for photos of the bridges and the Bay. Inside the tower, floor-to-ceiling murals painted in the 1930s depict scenes of early San Francisco.
- The entrance to Chinatown at Grant Avenue and Bush Street is called the “Dragon’s Gate.” Inside are 24 blocks of hustle and bustle, most of it taking place along Grant Avenue, the oldest street
in San Francisco. This city within a city is best explored on foot; exotic shops, renowned restaurants, food markets, temples, and small museums comprise its boundaries. Visitors can buy ancient potions from herb shops, relax and enjoy a dim sum lunch, or witness the making of fortune cookies.
- Dining in San Francisco is an attraction in itself. Known as America’s best restaurant city, San Francisco chefs excel at combining the freshest local ingredients, authentic international flavors, and a touch of creative genius. Choose your cuisine—Chinese, Japanese, French, Italian, Spanish, Moroccan, Indian, Malaysian, Mexican, Greek, Russian, or “fusion,”
a combination of any or all of these influences. There is a listing of restaurants within seven blocks of the Moscone Convention Center on the SOT Annual Meeting website or visit TasteSF for a list of San Francisco’s hottest restaurants, a calendar listing of food-related news and events, the history of San Francisco’s many food firsts, chef profiles, and Foodie 411, a weekly insider’s blog by Marcia “the tablehopper” Gagliardi.
- Nightlife in San Francisco is a constantly changing scene. The “hottest” clubs currently are in the South of Market and Mission districts, with live and recorded rock and Latin music. Jazz, blues, swing, and “oldies” music can be found all over town. For a complete list of nightlife options, visit the San Francisco travel website.
- A visit to San Francisco would not be complete without a cultural experience. The city is home to internationally recognized symphony, opera, and ballet companies. Playwrights such as Sam Shepherd and Tom Stoppard introduce their works in San Francisco and avant-garde theatre and dance companies dot the city. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Asian Art Museum, the de Young Museum, the Palace of the Legion of Honor, and other museums and galleries are devoted to the finest
of classical and contemporary arts. For a complete museum guide, visit the San Francisco travel SOT page.
Green in San Francisco
Named one of the top 10 “green cities” in the United States by The Green Guide, and the second greenest United States city according to Popular Science, San Francisco was cited as a city that puts transit first and dedicates more than 17 percent of its 47 square miles to parks and open space.
The Moscone Convention Center has been setting the recycling standard for convention centers for more than a decade, diverting nearly two million pounds of materials from landfills each year. The Moscone Convention Center offers high performance windows and lighting; mechanical systems that exceed Title 24 Energy Efficiency standards; a full-time air quality technician on staff, and one of the nation’s largest municipally-owned solar generation installations. The solar component consists of a solar electrical system capable of producing enough power for 550 homes annually. Over the project’s lifetime, it will reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by 34,000 tons, or the equivalent of removing 7,000 cars from Bay Area roads for one year.
Over half of San Francisco’s taxi fleet is composed of hybrid or compressed natural gas vehicles. Many San Francisco hotels have implemented eco-friendly practices such as the towel and linen reuse program; 100 percent nonsmoking policy; recycling program for guests; use of compact fluorescent lights instead of incandescent bulbs; and the use of nontoxic cleaning products by housekeeping staff. In addition, many of the hotels compost food waste and have installed devices that power down heating and cooling when guestrooms are not occupied.
AT&T Park is the first major league baseball stadium to use solar panels. The Diamond Vision scoreboard will use 78 percent less energy than the ballpark’s original scoreboard.
Nine farmers’ markets operate in the city including the renowned Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, operated by The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA).
San Francisco Fun Facts
- Levi’s denim jeans were invented in San Francisco—gold miners needed durable clothes.
- Chinese Fortune Cookie was invented at the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco by Makato Hagiwara.
- It is here that the famous Irish coffee was invented.
- Z is for ZigZag—San Francisco is famous for its bendy streets. Vermont Avenue between 22nd and 23rd is “crookedest,” and Filbert between Hyde and Leavenworth is steepest at 31.5 degrees, but neither fact discourages tourists from flocking to Lombard Street’s seductive curves.
- At Angel Island, the Ellis Island of the West, 175,000 Chinese immigrants and Japanese “picture brides” once waited to enter the country. Poems of hope they carved into the walls are still visible at Immigration Station.
- Alcatraz means pelican in Spanish. The rocky pelican’s island was a military fort before it became a prison.
- In 1850, gold seekers abandoned over 600 vessels in the bay. Some became landfill, now lying beneath the Jackson Square Historic District where the city’s few surviving nineteenth century commercial buildings include Ghirardelli’s first chocolate factory.
- Sutro Baths was an extravagant public bathhouse built by the eccentric former mayor, Adolph Sutro, who is also known for building the Cliff House. The vestiges of Sutro Baths are located at Ocean Beach where a massive crowd of 7,000 people once gathered on the occasion of its official opening.
- The computer mouse was invented in Silicon Valley and the picture of a rolling hill against a blue sky which is the default wallpaper in Windows XP was shot in the Napa Valley.
- In 1909, San Francisco’s postal service wanted to make the streets easier to navigate. Starting with Twenty-Seventh Avenue, it was decided that the streets would be designated, alphabetically, by male or female saints, starting with San Antonio and ending with Santa Ynez at Forty-Seventh Avenue. Unable to find Spanish saints with names beginning with K, Q, W, X, or Z, they chose Ayala for Forty-eighth Avenue and La Playa for Forty-ninth Avenue.
- Portions of Mount Lassen in Northern California still resemble an active volcano with boiling mud pots, hot springs, and steam rising from the side of the mountain. Mount Lassen last erupted less than 100 years ago with a seven-mile high plume of ash.
- With more than 3,500 restaurants offering cuisines from around the globe, San Francisco has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the United States.
- San Francisco recycles and composts 77 percent of its waste stream, more than any other city in the nation.
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