List of nicknames for San Francisco

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San Francisco, California in the United States has seen many nicknames over the years. Some are nicknames that have faded in use, while others have evolved over time. The following is a list of notable nicknames:[1][2]

  • 415 - referring to the area code that serves the city of San Francisco (as well as most of Marin County).[citation needed]
  • Baghdad by the Bay - title of a book of essays by Herb Caen, and a nickname he used for the city because of the cosmopolitan cultural diversity it shares with the medieval city of Baghdad[1]
  • Fog City aka "City of Fog"- in reference to San Francisco's famous fog[citation needed]
  • San Fran - Used by non-native residents and those outside of the Bay Area, particularly on the East Coast and in Europe.[3] Curtis Sparrer from Bospar gives the reasons why it is not acceptable to say 'San Fran'.[4][5]
  • Frisco - also the nickname of the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway,[1] disparaged by Herb Caen and some locals, including Emperor Norton, who passed a law against the use of the term. The word is still used today particularly by San Francisco’s Black community.[6][7]
  • Gay Mecca[8][9][10][11]
  • Golden Gate City - in reference to the Golden Gate Bridge[12]
  • SF
  • SFC (San Francisco City)
  • Sunset City
  • The City - used by native San Franciscans and people in the Bay Area.
  • The City by the Bay - refers to San Francisco Bay[3]
  • The City that Knows How[13]
  • The Golden City - in reference to the California Gold Rush and golden brown grass on hillsides in the dry season[1]
  • The Paris of the West - popular in the early 1900s, but no longer in common use[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e Garling, Caleb (June 30, 2013). "Don't Call It Frisco: The History of San Francisco's Nicknames". The Bold Italic. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  2. ^ Mike Moffitt (April 4, 2014). "The odd nicknames of California cities". Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "San Francisco, Frisco or San Fran—What's Correct?". Bospar. 2018-01-26. Retrieved 2021-09-23.
  4. ^ Bradley, Diana (January 31, 2019). "Bospar to Neil Patrick Harris: Stop calling our city 'San Fran'". Retrieved 2022-02-28.
  5. ^ "What's in a name? Survey reveals what locals, non-locals call San Francisco". ABC7 San Francisco. 2019-01-23. Retrieved 2022-02-28.
  6. ^ James Sullivan (October 14, 2003). "Frisco, that once-verboten term for the city by the bay, is making a comeback among the young and hip. Herb Caen is spinning at warp speed". Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  7. ^ Eskenazi, Joe. "Don't Call It "Frisco" -- If You're Old and White". SF Weekly. Retrieved 2021-04-15.
  8. ^ "History Shows SF Has Long Been Gay Mecca".
  9. ^ "Study: Gay Mecca San Francisco Has Highest Rent on Earth". July 11, 2018.
  10. ^ "Iconic San Francisco gay bar to shutter in pandemic fallout". AP NEWS. May 21, 2020.
  11. ^ "S.F.'s LGBT press evolves as the city changes | Northern California Media Museum".
  12. ^ Woods, Amanda (18 October 2018). "San Francisco is too expensive even for rich people". New York Post. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
  13. ^ "PPIE: The City That Knows How". SFPL. Retrieved 2019-11-13.