South San Francisco, California

Coordinates: 37°39′N 122°25′W / 37.650°N 122.417°W / 37.650; -122.417
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South San Francisco
City of South San Francisco
South San Francisco as viewed from a nearby ridge
South San Francisco as viewed from a nearby ridge
Official seal of South San Francisco
South City; The Industrial City; The Birthplace of Biotechnology
Location in San Mateo County and the state of California
Location in San Mateo County and the state of California
South San Francisco is located in the United States
South San Francisco
South San Francisco
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 37°39′N 122°25′W / 37.650°N 122.417°W / 37.650; -122.417
CountryUnited States
CountySan Mateo
CSASan Jose–San Francisco–Oakland
MetroSan Francisco–Oakland–Hayward
IncorporatedSeptember 19, 1908[1]
 • MayorJames H. Coleman[2]
 • Vice MayorEddie Flores[2]
 • City ManagerSharon Ranals[3]
 • Councilmembers[2]Buenaflor Nicolas
Mark Addiego
Mark Nagales
 • City30.17 sq mi (78.15 km2)
 • Land9.20 sq mi (23.84 km2)
 • Water20.97 sq mi (54.32 km2)  69.69%
Elevation16 ft (5 m)
 • City66,105
 • Density7,185.33/sq mi (2,772.86/km2)
 • Metro
4,749,008 (13th)
 • CSA
9,714,023 (5th)
DemonymSouth San Franciscan
Time zoneUTC−8 (Pacific Time Zone)
 • Summer (DST)UTC−7 (PDT)
ZIP Codes
94080, 94083, 94099
Area code650
FIPS code06-73262
GNIS feature IDs277618, 2411942

South San Francisco is a city in San Mateo County, California, United States, located on the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area. The city is colloquially known as "South City". The population was 66,105 at the 2020 census.[6]


Prior to European exploration, the northern San Francisco peninsula was inhabited by the Ramaytush, a linguistic sub-group of the Ohlone people. Their village of Urebure on San Bruno Creek was visited by the Gaspar de Portolà expedition in 1769; remains of long-term (5,000+ years) inhabitancy and seasonal encampments have been examined at the Siplichiquin[7] and Buckeye[8] shell-mounds on San Bruno Mountain. Charcoal-sampling indicates these ancient sites were actively occupied into the Spanish colonial period (late 1700s). The delta of Colma Creek was formerly an important habitat for the waterfowl known to be hunted by the Ramaytush in historic times, and archaeologic sites have been recorded near the creek.[8] The City's plan recognizes the existing remains of a village (CA-SMA-299) along El Camino Real.[9]

In 1835, the area which is now South San Francisco was confirmed to be part of Rancho Buri Buri, a large Mexican land grant to the Sanchez family, which they had used for cattle-ranching (with an easement for southbound traffic) for nearly a decade. While the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo guaranteed the grant, taxes and legal-fees encouraged family-members to sell parts of the grant. Around that same time, the 12-Mile House was built as a stop on the San Jose Stage road.[10] In 1853 SF butcher Charles Lux and business partner Alfred Edmondson, purchased 1,700 acres (7 km2) in Rancho Buri Buri. In 1855 Lux bought another 1,464 acres (6 km2) of Buri Buri land and soon partnered with fellow San Francisco butcher and entrepreneur Henry Miller, forming the stockyards and beef-raising firm of Miller & Lux.[11] Lux bought out Edmonson's interest in 1856 and founded the town of Baden (now a neighborhood of South San Francisco) near the 12-Mile House. In 1863, Baden became a station as the San Francisco and San Jose Railroad was built.[12]

The city of South San Francisco was conceived as an industrial suburb and was promoted by representatives of the Beef Trust, a group including some of the country's largest meat packing firms. A city plan was put forward in 1888 by Gustavus Franklin Swift, founder of the Swift & Company meat packing firm. The plan called for multiple individual meat-packing companies with a shared stockyard, as well as a residential area for employees. Swift proposed the name South San Francisco based on South Chicago and South Omaha, where the Swift company already had plants.

In 1890 Peter E. Iler of Omaha, Nebraska, an agent of the Beef Trust, purchased the Lux properties; ownership was transferred to the South San Francisco Land and Improvement Company in 1891. It was divided into industrial and residential districts, and the company installed lighting, sewer connections, and water distributions in the residential areas. A second corporation, eventually known as the Western Meat Company, set up stock yards and meat packing facilities on 80 acres (32 ha) of bayfront property; the facility opened in 1892. Other industries soon moved in, including a pottery works, two brick companies, the paint manufacturer W.P. Fuller & Company, the South San Francisco Lumber Company, and the Pacific Jupiter Steel Company.[13]

The city of South San Francisco was incorporated in 1908 following a dispute with San Mateo County, which had blocked the construction of a smelter on San Bruno Point supported by the locals.[13] Following incorporation additional industries moved into the town, including two steel mills. A new City Hall was opened on November 11, 1920.

By the 1920s the city was "the smokestack capital of the Peninsula."[14] South San Francisco proudly called itself "The Industrial City", a motto immortalized in 1923 by a huge sign on a hillside overlooking the city. Industry remained the city's main economic focus through the 1950s. During the Great Depression the city maintained 35 industrial operations, including four meat-packing businesses, six iron or steel plants, a smelter for precious metals, seven equipment manufacturers of various kinds, two large paint factories, three other chemical works, and three food packing establishments. During World War II shipbuilding also became a significant operation.[13] From August 1940, until the end of the War, a total of 48 ships were built and launched at the Western Pipe & Steel Shipyards.[15]

At the end of the war the city's focus shifted away from "smokestack industries" toward light industry, warehousing, and residential development. The major manufacturers closed, and new development was focused on office parks, housing, high-rise hotels, and yacht harbors. The biotechnology giant Genentech opened in 1976, leading to South San Francisco's new identity as "the birthplace of biotechnology".[16] The population grew to 63,632 as of the 2010 census.


San Bruno Mountain and Sign Hill

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 30.2 square miles (78 km2), of which 9.1 square miles (24 km2) of it is land and 21.0 square miles (54 km2) of it (69.69%) is water.

South San Francisco lies north of San Bruno and San Francisco International Airport in the Colma Creek valley south of Daly City, Colma, Brisbane, and San Bruno Mountain; east of Pacifica and the hills of the northern Coast Range lying along the San Andreas Fault; west of the waters of San Francisco Bay. Locals often refer to the town as South City, in much the same way that San Francisco is called "The City." South San Francisco does not touch on San Francisco, with either Brisbane, Colma, or Daly City lying between them.

Most of the valley faces east toward San Francisco Bay, affording bay views from higher levels. South San Francisco has mild winters and dry cool summers. The hills to the west shield the eastern parts of the city from some of the fog that prevails in neighboring areas.

The population grew from 4,411 in 1920 to 67,009 in 2014.[17] It has tripled since World War II with the opening of such subdivisions as Buri Buri, Winston Manor and Westborough on the slopes west of El Camino;

An image of the South San Francisco hillside sign, taken from a zeppelin.

The city is particularly noted for the South San Francisco hillside sign on Sign Hill, which rises to the north of the city, with large white letters that proclaim "South San Francisco, The Industrial City". The sign, a tribute to the city's industrial past, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[13]


South San Francisco, along with most of the Bay Area, has a mild mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csb), with warm, dry summers and cool, relatively wet winters. The microclimate of South San Francisco is dominated by wind from the nearby Pacific Ocean, which typically keeps the daytime temperatures quite cool year round, even during the summer months. January is the coolest month with August being the warmest month. The record highest temperature of 106 °F (41 °C) and was recorded on June 14, 1961. The record lowest temperature of 24 °F (-4.4 °C) was recorded on December 9, 1972.[18] The normal annual precipitation is 19.64 inches (498.9 mm).[19]

Climate data for San Francisco International Airport (1991–2020 normals), extremes since 1945
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 74
Mean maximum °F (°C) 65
Mean daily maximum °F (°C) 58.0
Daily mean °F (°C) 51.3
Mean daily minimum °F (°C) 44.5
Mean minimum °F (°C) 37
Record low °F (°C) 26
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.89
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 inch) 11 11 10 6 3 1 0 0 1 3 7 11 65
Source: NOAA[19]

South San Francisco is frequently windy. Summer is the windiest season, with winds averaging 13.6 mph (21.9 km/h); winter is the least windy season, with winds averaging 7.5 mph (12.1 km/h).[20]

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Annual
Wind (mph) 7.2 8.6 10.5 12.2 13.4 14.0 13.6 12.8 11.1 9.4 7.5 7.1 10.6


Historical population
U.S. Decennial Census[21]


As of the census of 2000, there were 60,552 people, 20,118 households, and 15,431 families residing in the city. The population density was 6,624.2 inhabitants per square mile (2,557.6/km2). There were 20,870 housing units at an average density of 2,283.1 per square mile (881.5/km2).

There were 20,118 households, out of which 39.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.8% were married couples living together, 11.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.5% were non-families. 21.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 4.05 and the average family size was 4.51.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 25.2% under the age of 18, 11.2% from 18 to 24, 33.0% from 25 to 44, 22.0% from 45 to 64, and 11.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there were 99.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $60,764, and the median income for a family was $65,598. Males had a median income of $41,742 versus $35,453 for females. The per capita income for the city was $25,562. About 5.5% of families and 6.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.1% of those under age 18 and 5.7% of those age 65 or over.

South San Francisco is a middle class and working class city. However, that image is quickly changing as a number of higher-priced homes have been built in recent years (particularly at the foot of the mountain that divides Brisbane and South San Francisco) to take advantage of the city's close proximity to downtown San Francisco, the bio-tech industry, and the peninsula. There are also developments of two-and-three bedroom condominiums in the Westborough district and on El Camino Real near the South San Francisco BART station. Since 2007, construction has begun to add more than 1,000 apartments renting at more than $2,000 per month.

The most commonly spoken language at home in 2000 was English (43.13%), followed by Spanish (28.36%), Tagalog (11.48%), Chinese languages like Mandarin and Cantonese (4.9%), Hindi (1.5%), Arabic (1.59%), although a locally large ethnic enclave - Italian (only 1.47%), Vietnamese (0.67%), Russian (0.56%), Korean and Japanese (0.6%), respectively, with other languages were spoken by less than half of one percent of the population.[22]


The 2010 United States Census[23] reported that South San Francisco had a population of 63,632. The population density was 6,961.2 inhabitants per square mile (2,687.7/km2). The racial makeup of South San Francisco was 23,760 (37.3%) White, 1,625 (2.6%) African American, 395 (0.6%) Native American, 23,293 (36.6%) Asian, 1,111 (1.7%) Pacific Islander, 9,598 (15.1%) from other races, and 3,850 (6.1%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 21,645 persons (34.0%). Among the Hispanic population, 13,194 (20.7%) are Mexican, 571 (0.9%) are Puerto Rican, 92 (0.1%) are Cuban, and 7,788 (12.2%) are other Hispanic or Latino.

The Census reported that 63,053 people (99.1% of the population) lived in households, 528 (0.8%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 51 (0.1%) were institutionalized.

There were 20,938 households, out of which 7,588 (36.2%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 11,165 (53.3%) were married couples, 2,897 (13.8%) had a female householder with no husband present, 1,268 (6.1%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 1,083 (5.2%) unmarried couples, and 187 (0.9%) same-sex couples. 4,299 households (20.5%) were made up of individuals, and 1,857 (8.9%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.01. There were 15,330 families (73.2% of all households); the average family size was 3.45.

The population was spread out, with 13,787 people (21.7%) under the age of 18, 5,668 people (8.9%) aged 18 to 24, 18,645 people (29.3%) aged 25 to 44, 17,203 people (27.0%) aged 45 to 64, and 8,329 people (13.1%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38.1 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.7 males.

There were 21,814 housing units at an average density of 2,386.4 per square mile (921.4/km2), of which 12,614 (60.2%) were owner-occupied, and 8,324 (39.8%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 1.3%; the rental vacancy rate was 4.0%. 37,802 people (59.4% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 25,251 people (39.7%) lived in rental housing units.

Demographic profile[24] 2010
Total Population 63,632 - 100.0%
One Race 59,782 - 93.9%
Not Hispanic or Latino 41,987 - 66.0%
Black or African American alone 1,480 - 2.3%
American Indian and Alaska Native alone 138 - 0.2%
Asian alone 22,923 - 36.0%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone 1,054 - 1.7%
Some other race alone 287 - 0.5%
Two or more races alone 2,089 - 3.3%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 21,645 - 34.0%
White (Non-Hispanic) 16,226 - 25.5%


Headquarters of See's Candies on El Camino Real, South San Francisco

South San Francisco does not levy gross receipts or payroll taxes, although companies have to pay a business fee of up to $125,000 per year.[25] According to city representatives, who emphasize a business-friendly image in line with "The Industrial City" hill sign, it instead relies on mostly on revenue from property, sales and hotel taxes.[25]

Much of what is now South San Francisco was initially agricultural land, and was originally known as Baden. Small pockets of farmland still exist near San Bruno Mountain, but these lands have, over the years, been replaced by residential subdivisions. Acres of Orchids, founded by the Rod McLellan Company in the late 1920s, was one such example of a farm being converted to housing. Once one of the largest facilities in the United States producing orchids and gardenias, the nursery closed in 1998.[26] A new housing tract now sits upon the land formerly occupied by Acres of Orchids greenhouses, off El Camino near Hickey.

A sign placed at the entrance to the Biotech Area declares South San Francisco to be the "Birthplace of Biotechnology."

The flat land east of Bayshore Freeway (US 101) is the R&D Campus of South San Francisco.

South San Francisco is home to Genentech, one of the world's largest biotech companies, as well as a satellite office of Amgen, the world's largest biotech firm. Many other biotech companies, such as Exelixis, have also started or moved to South San Francisco to be in proximity to UCSF, Stanford University, and UC Berkeley; all are within an hour's drive. A sign located on East Grand Avenue declares South San Francisco as the "Birthplace of Biotechnology."[27]

The headquarters and main factory of See's Candies is located in South San Francisco, having moved from the original plant in Los Angeles due to the cooler weather.[28] Galoob had its headquarters in South San Francisco before Hasbro bought the company in 1998.[29] Air China operates an office in South San Francisco.[30] Hudson Soft USA (a subsidiary of Hudson Soft, and Sanrio, Inc.) had its headquarters in South San Francisco.[31]

In October 2019, online payment processing company Stripe became South San Francisco's largest tenant by signing a lease for 421,000 square feet (39,100 m2) of office space in the redeveloped Oyster Point, announcing it would be moving its headquarters there from neighboring San Francisco in 2021.[25]

Top employers[edit]

According to the city's 2022 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report,[32] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer # of Employees
1 Genentech 8,632
2 AbbVie 1,000
3 Costco Wholesale 834
4 Life Technologies Corporation 622
5 Amgen 600
6 Verily Life Sciences 555
7 Services, Inc 425
8 ZS Associates, Inc. 390
9 MRL San Francisco LLC 317
10 Frank & Grossman Landscape Contractors 265


The Linden Avenue Post Office has a Victor Arnautoff mural fresco painted in the 1930s.[33] The Grand Avenue Library also has a collection of paintings and lithographs by WPA artists, including Maurice Del Mue and Suzanne Scheuer.[34]

The Cabot, Cabot and Forbes Tower was constructed in 1967 as the centerpiece of an industrial park (37°39′14″N 122°23′06″W / 37.654°N 122.385°W / 37.654; -122.385 (Wind Harp)), this 92-foot-tall sculpture by Lucia and Aristides Demetrios is one of the world's largest aeolian harps.[35] Named for Aeolus, the Greek god of the wind, and invented by the 17th-century polymath Athanasius Kircher, an aeolian harp is a passive instrument played by the movement of the wind. Fabricated from steel manufactured at Bethlehem Steel. It was designed to "take advantage of the viewer’s motion… constantly changing, presenting a series of graceful ellipses and a shifting light pattern."[36]

In 1984, the city began to pursue the acquisition of artworks,[37] most of which are displayed in parks and other public spaces. This program is administered by a Cultural Arts Commission, which also sponsors youth programs and public events. The SSF B.A.R.T. station displays a series of murals based on historic photographs of the city and its people which may be viewed from the transit platform.[38]


The city is governed by a five-member City Council, with one of the five council members serving as Mayor for one year in a rotation among the other council members. Council members are elected by district and serve a four-year term.[39] As of 2021 the council is composed of Mayor Mark Nagales, Vice Mayor Buenaflor Nicolas, Councilmember James H. Coleman, Councilmember Eddie Flores, and Councilmember Mark Addiego.[40] The City Manager is Mike Futrell.[41] In 2020, James Coleman defeated 18-year incumbent Richard Garbarino to become the youngest and first openly LGBTQ member of the city council.[42] On January 26, 2021, the city council appointed Eddie Flores to fill a vacancy left by Councilmember Karyl Matsumoto, who did not run for reelection in 2020.[43]

In the California State Legislature, South San Francisco is in the 13th Senate District, represented by Democrat Josh Becker, the 11th Senate District, represented by Democrat Scott Wiener, and in the 21st Assembly District, represented by Democrat Diane Papan and the 19th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Phil Ting.[44]

In the United States House of Representatives, South San Francisco is in California's 15th congressional district, represented by Democrat Kevin Mullin.[45]

According to the California Secretary of State, as of February 10, 2019, South San Francisco had 32,934 registered voters. Of those, 17,627 (53.5%) were registered Democrats, 3,590 (10.9%) were registered Republicans, and 10,573 (32.1%) had declined to state a political party.[46]


South San Francisco High School, also known as South City High
El Camino High School

South San Francisco is part of the South San Francisco Unified School District, which also serves portions of the neighboring cities of Daly City and San Bruno. The city is home to two public high schools: El Camino High School and South San Francisco High School, which share a cross-town rivalry.[47] Baden High School and South San Francisco Adult Education are the city's two continuation schools. The city also has three public middle schools: Parkway Heights, Westborough, and Alta Loma, as well as public elementary schools, including: Buri-Buri, Junipero Serra (located in Daly City), Los Cerritos, Martin, Monte Verde (in San Bruno), Ponderosa, Skyline (in Daly City), Spruce, and Sunshine Gardens.

Several parochial schools are also established in the city: All Souls School, Mater Dolorosa Catholic School (recently closed), and St. Veronica's School.

The city is served by the South San Francisco Public Library which is part of the Peninsula Library System.

Fire department[edit]

South San Francisco Fire Department currently[when?] has five fire stations. Station 61 is home to Engine 61, Rescue 61, Battalion 17, and a basic life support ambulance. Station 62 is home to Quint 62. Station 63 is home to Engine and Rescue 63. Its nickname is "The Bunker". Station 64 is home to Engine 64. Station 65 is home to Engine 65 and USAR 165 (Heavy Rescue) . Urban Search and Rescue, or USAR 165 is stationed there. It is staffed by on duty crew from around the city and is decided before every shift. Rescue Boat 62 is located at Oyster Point Marina and can be staffed by Q62 personnel if needed.[48]


The city's small downtown and several residential subdivisions, such as Mayfair Village, Sunshine Gardens, Avalon Park, Winston Manor, West Winston Manor, and Rancho Buri Buri, are located west of Highway 101, while the area east of Highway 101 is dominated by industrial complexes interspersed with modern office parks, particularly near the Oyster Point Marina on San Francisco Bay. The extreme western portions of the city near Interstate 280 sit along a hillside and offer views of San Francisco Bay. This area is known to local residents as Westborough. The southern part of the city, closest to the airport, is home to a large number of car repair shops, airport parking lots, and airport hotels.

Grand Avenue, between Spruce and Airport, is zoned "Downtown Core" by the City of South San Francisco,[49] with various small shops and restaurants. Grand Avenue is host to a plethora of stores, one of which is Bronstein Music, a well-known local music store that has been around since 1946. City Hall is located on Grand Avenue, which, to the residents of South City, is known simply as "Grand." Grand also runs perpendicular with one of the city's other well-known streets, Linden, which connects San Bruno to Highway 101. Chestnut Avenue connects Hillside, the northern bordering street at the foot of San Bruno Mountain, to Westborough Blvd, and subsequently to one of the neighborhoods known as Westborough.

Besides the downtown, South San Francisco residents, officials, and local real-estate agencies identify the following neighborhoods:

  • Avalon Park
  • Brentwood
  • Buri Buri
  • Cypress/Airport
  • East Side
  • El Camino
  • Francisco Terrace
  • Lindenville
  • Mayfair Village
  • Mission Road
  • Old Town
  • Orange Park
  • Oyster Point
  • Paradise Valley
  • Parkhaven
  • Pecks Lot
  • Serra Highlands
  • Sign Hill
  • Southwood
  • Sterling Terrace
  • Stonegate
  • Sunshine Gardens
  • Terrabay
  • Treasure Island
  • West Winston Manor
  • Westborough
  • West Park
  • Winston Manor

Students from Westborough and Buri Buri generally attend El Camino High School. The majority of Avalon, Brentwood, Sterling Terrace, Parkway inhabitants attend South San Francisco High School, as well as the East Side inhabitants. The same inhabitants are also divided among Westborough Middle School, Alta Loma Middle School and Parkway Heights Middle School, respectively.

Aerial view of South San Francisco and San Bruno Mountain from the south


Nicknames for South San Francisco include "South City" (in reference to San Francisco's nickname of "The City") and "SSF".

Recreation and places of interest[edit]

Sign Hill[edit]

The "South San Francisco The Industrial City" sign

South San Francisco has a landmark visible to travelers along the San Francisco Peninsula or through the nearby San Francisco International Airport. Sign Hill, near San Bruno Mountain State Park, displays huge letters on its mountainside [50] which reads "SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO THE INDUSTRIAL CITY." The letters are made of painted concrete and sit flush along the hillside. The sign was put up in the 1920s, and in 1996 was given a place in the National Register of Historic Places as an outstanding example of early 20th-Century "civic boosterism", a tribute to the past importance of heavy industry to the regional economy, and recognizing significant contributions the area made during World Wars I and II.[51]

Sign Hill is a city park which provides hikers with access to the letters; the park includes 30 acres (12 ha) of open space and almost 2 miles (3.2 km) of hiking trails. During the 2020 pandemic, when access to many state and county parks and trails became restricted, the number of hikers climbing to the top of Sign Hill rose to more than thirty per day.[52]

City Hall and major public buildings[edit]

The SSF City Hall is located at 400 Grand Avenue (37°39′22″N 122°24′47″W / 37.656°N 122.413°W / 37.656; -122.413 (South San Francisco City Hall)). The City purchased the Civic Center site in 1913 for $10,000 from the South San Francisco Land and Improvement Company. This property had been marked for nineteen prime home sites. The City Hall design was modeled after Philadelphia's Independence Hall's neo-colonial Georgian design. The city's Mayoral Office, City Manager's Office, City Clerk, Economic and Community Development, Finance and Human Resources services are located in City Hall; the Building department is next door (in the former Police department). A Municipal Services Building on Arroyo Drive near El Camino Real houses the Council Chambers, as well as event spaces. The Police Department is (starting 2022) housed in a dedicated newly constructed building at Chestnut Avenue and Antoinette Lane. Public Works is located on North Canal Street. There are five Fire Stations, with the headquarters in Station 61 on North Canal Street.

Other parks[edit]

South San Francisco has a number of other parks: Orange Memorial Park (37°39′11″N 122°25′37″W / 37.653°N 122.427°W / 37.653; -122.427 (Orange Memorial Park)) offers baseball/softball fields, soccer fields, indoor swimming, picnic grounds, a sculpture garden, children's play equipment, tennis courts, basketball courts, bocce ball, and a skate park. It hosts a Saturday farmer's market (May–October), as well as the annual "Concert in the Park" in September. Alta Loma Park, Buri-Buri Park, Monte Verde Park, Paradise Valley, Sellick Park (37°38′35″N 122°27′00″W / 37.643°N 122.450°W / 37.643; -122.450 (Sellick Park)), and Westborough Park all include facilities for sports as well as picnics, and the Terrabay Recreation Center has a gymnasium. SSF Unified School District facilities are also available for sports, and the Boys and Girls Club of Northern San Mateo County is headquartered adjacent to Orange and Centennial Parks.

The city also has a park and marina along the shore of San Francisco Bay, named Oyster Point, which is also home to the private Oyster Point Yacht Club. South San Francisco has walkways and bike trails adjacent to the San Francisco Bay, from which runners are able to view San Francisco International Airport operations, fishermen may try their luck, while wind-surfers and kayakers may launch their watercraft. South San Francisco is home to many hotels as well, since it is close to San Francisco and next to SFO.

A unique opportunity was created when BART expanded down the Peninsula to create a "linear park" on the swath of undeveloped land on top of the tube. Running from Colma to Millbrae, South San Francisco's portion is three miles long, running through the center of town from the South San Francisco BART Station to the San Bruno BART Station (37°39′29″N 122°26′13″W / 37.658°N 122.437°W / 37.658; -122.437 (Centennial Way Bike Trail)). The Class I bicycle and pedestrian trail is a 10' wide asphalt pathway with 2' decomposed granite shoulders, irrigated for low-maintenance landscaping, with safety lighting, signalized intersections where the trail crosses Spruce and Chestnut Avenues, and in-ground flashing lights at Orange Avenue. Centennial Way Dog Park is located adjacent to Orange Park along the pathway. The pathway is called Centennial Way to commemorate the city's 100th birthday in 2008.

Other places of interest[edit]

The downtown area along Grand Avenue has buildings from the city's earliest days. Galli's Sanitary Bakery operated from 1909 until it closed in October 2016, while – a few blocks down – the 1905 Plymire-Schwartz house (37°39′23″N 122°25′01″W / 37.6565°N 122.4169°W / 37.6565; -122.4169 (Plymire-Schwartz House)) was the North Peninsula's first hospital; it is now operated by the Historical Society. The 1920 city hall is modeled after Independence Hall in Philadelphia, while next to it sits the original 1916 Carnegie Library. The 1912 Metropolitan Hotel (built by the Meat Packers Consortium) now has a mural depicting SSF History high on its east wall. Bertolucci's is an Italian restaurant that has also been around almost since the birth of the city, located in close proximity to downtown South San Francisco and is easily seen from highway 101.

The South San Francisco Public Library (part of the Peninsula Library System) has served the city since 1917 with branches on Grand Avenue and on West Orange Avenue just off of Westborough. A new library facility is under construction at Chestnut Avenue next to El Camino Real; it is expected to open in 2023.

As well as the Plymire-Schwartz house, the SSF Historical Society operates a museum in a former Water Company facility on Chestnut Avenue; it houses a collection that includes artifacts, oral history tapes, historic documents, special exhibits, and has a database for researching historical photographs.[53] The City Library also houses a collection of documents and photos in basement-level offices at the historic landmark Grand Avenue Library. The former Historic Preservation Commission placed descriptive markers at fifty locations throughout the city.[54]

The South San Francisco Farmers Market is at Orange Memorial Park from May through November, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.[55] The market offers only California-grown products sold directly to consumers.

Every Holiday season residents of Parkway Estates (a three-street development built in the mid-1980s off Chestnut Avenue) decorate their houses and yards with Christmas lights. This display is open to the public, is well-known holiday attraction, and hundreds of visitors arrive every holiday season. Lilac Lane (off of Palm Avenue) was an earlier seasonal decoration cooperative which began in the 1960s, at one point it was the destination of the city's Santa Claus parade, and the spot where the local Chamber of Commerce Santa passed out toys from R.Dakin (formerly headquartered in SSF) to hundreds of children. Few of the original residents survive and decorative technology today has far surpassed the 1960s era, so, in the 21st century, Lilac Lane has become a backwater.

South San Francisco has one bowling alley now named Hometown Bowl on El Camino Real. There are several gyms which serve basketball, volleyball, and other indoor sports; both the high schools and the former Spruce Ave. high school open their gyms to the community when the school is not using them; Terrabay Gymnasium[56] on San Bruno Mountain is also available. Tennis courts, outdoor basketball courts, and a bocce facility are maintained by the city. South San Francisco is also home to the private California Golf Club of San Francisco,[57] next to its public library, bounded by Ponderosa Road and Westborough.


Transportation in South San Francisco 
  •  Caltrain 
  •  BART 
  •  Ferry 

South San Francisco (Caltrain)
Butler Road (closed, SP)
South San Francisco (BART)
South San Francisco Ferry Terminal

South San Francisco is adjacent to the San Francisco International Airport (SFO). A BART station, located directly adjacent to El Camino High School and Solaire Transit Village, provides near-express rapid transit service to SFO (with stops only in San Bruno and, on red line trains, Millbrae), as well as the cities of San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond, Antioch, Berkeley, Concord and Walnut Creek. BART supplements the Caltrain service between San Francisco and San Jose, with the latter's station adjacent to downtown on Grand Avenue. A second Caltrain station in South San Francisco, Butler Road at Oyster Point, was removed in 1983.

On June 4, 2012, the Water Emergency Transportation Authority began a ferry service between the South San Francisco Ferry Terminal at Oyster Point Marina and the east bay cities of Oakland at Jack London Square and Alameda at the Main Street ferry terminal. The ferry service operates during weekday commute hours only.[58][59]

The city is served by several free shuttle services open to the general public:

  1. A South City Shuttle provides service between South San Francisco BART and the city's downtown. It includes trips to local stores, the senior center, libraries, city hall and parks. The shuttle provides transit connections with both BART and SamTrans.[60]
  2. A shuttle linking the South San Francisco Ferry Terminal to the Utah/Grand Ave office area operates during commute hours, Monday through Friday.[61]
  3. A shuttle linking the South San Francisco Ferry Terminal to the Oyster Point office area operates during commute hours, Monday through Friday.[62]

The city is transited by two major north–south freeways, U.S. Route 101 (the Bayshore Freeway), along the San Francisco Bay, and Interstate 280, along the hills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The city also lies along the historic El Camino Real between Colma and San Bruno, and is bordered on the west by Skyline Boulevard.

South San Francisco is also served by LimeBike, a dockless bike rental service.[63]

Notable people[edit]

Sister cities[edit]

South San Francisco has five sister cities:[64]


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External links[edit]