A weekly fun chat on an eclectic selection of topics
U.S. Cities: San Francisco (pt. 1)
U.S. Cities: San Francisco (pt. 1)

This week, we kick off our U.S. Cities series with a look at San Francisco. The bay! The pride! the bridges! The epic struggle of man versus nature! It's all here!


We got pretty in depth, so this is Part 1, with Part 2 coming up later this week.


In the meantime, look at all these great pictures, graphs, and supplemental sources!

Really great map of the city. Source:mapsof.net

San Francisco Bay Area. Source:SFGate.com

Some population graphs:



This graph starts after the gold rush, but you can see that population increase is already in full swing. There's also a big jump right around World War II because of the military and the support economy that followed it. Why does the population more or less level off from there? My guess is that the city just ran out of space.



It's easy to forget that Los Angeles didn't become a major city until less than 100 years ago. Here we see that San Francisco was the major city in California until right around 1920, at which point Los Angeles pretty much exploded.


By the way, I love Wolfram Alpha. Easy data gathering? Automatic graph generation? Indefinite integral solving? Yes, please.

Here are a few nice historical pictures:

The 1906 earthquake and fire. This was no good for anyone. Except maybe the water company.

San Francisco in 1851, shortly after the gold rush began. Source: learnnc.org

Here are some more modern pictures:

We didn't have a chance to talk about this in the podcast, but Sutro Tower is a giant, three-pronged broadcast antenna situated at one of the highest points in the city. Before the tower went in, the city's hills made television reception spotty at best. Because it was designed to broadcast clearly with no blind spots, it can be seen from almost anywhere within city. It's awesome. Picture from bayareapilot.com

The Sunset neighborhood, with the Richmond neighborhood in the distance and Golden Gate Park in between them. Yup, it sure is a lot of houses.



Yes, these are the houses from Full House.Yes, the Full House theme plays in my head every time I see them. Yes, I should be over that show by now.



The Bay Bridge, from the Ferry Building Here are some other pretty cool topics:

  • Emperor Norton, the self-styled "Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico". He may have been crazy, but everyone in San Francisco circa 1860 loved him!
  • Census Data! Note the correlation between the altitude (near the center of the city) and income.

Here are some other pretty cool sources:

  • FoundSF - community-driven personal histories related to San Francisco
  • Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin - Author Gary A. Brechin paints the city as far more exploitative than it usually is. It comes off pretty negative, but it's nice to read a perspective besides "Wow! What a city!"
  • Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas - A really cool book full of maps viewing the city in all different ways. There's one showing the density of coffee houses in the city, and another juxtaposing the numbers of murders in different areas in the city with number of trees planted. Oh how I love interesting maps!


Music for this episode by: Gosprom, Kathryn's bad impression of the Doctor Who theme song


Toy Inventors:  Richard James & the Slinky
Toy Inventors: Richard James & the Slinky

Contrary to what we said last week, we'll be starting our Toy Inventors series this week.  We're talking about the inventor of the Slinky, who joined a cult.  Check it out.


Music by: Minimal Damage, Pitman's Gramophone, The Slinky Theme Song


Ancient Robots: Colossi of Memnon
Ancient Robots: Colossi of Memnon

Our inaugural episode! Hooray!

Here we kick off the Ancient Robots series with a discussion on the Colossi of Memnon. These were two statues circa 3400 BC, one of which would greet the dawn with a mysterious moan. Crazy, right?

Find out more when you give a listen!

 Music by: Devotchka, The Slackers, Styx, and Phillip Glass


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