The City of South San Francisco has a rich history. The area was originally occupied by the Ramaytush, a linguistic sub-group of the Ohlone native tribe. The first European contact in the area was through the Portola Expedition of 1769. In the early 1800s, the area would become part of the Rancho Buri Buri land grant. In 1853, Charles Lux and Alfred Edmondson purchased part of Rancho Buri Buri. They maintained that partnership until 1856, when Lux bought Edmonson out of his portion of the land and became a partner with San Francisco butcher Henry Miller.
The City of South San Francisco was originally conceived as an industrial suburb and was promoted by representatives of Beef Trust, a group that included some of the country’s largest meat packing companies. In 1888, the head of one of these companies, Gustavus Swift, proposed a city plan for South San Francisco. The city was to have several individual meat packing plants with a shared stockyard. Swift proposed the name South San Francisco, after South Chicago and South Omaha, where Swift already had packing plants.
Lux maintained ownership of the land until 1890, when it was purchased by Peter Iler, an agent of Beef Trust. In 1891, ownership was transferred to the South San Francisco Land and Improvement Company. Soon after the Land and Improvement Company took over City ownership, other industries such as pottery, lumber, and brick manufacturing began moving into the area.
South San Francisco was incorporated on September 19, 1908. By the 1920s, the City had become known as the “Smokestack Capital of the Peninsula.” Residents themselves called it the “City of Industry.” Industry remained the main focus of the City’s economy until the 1950s. In 1976, South San Francisco’s new identity became the “Birthplace of Biotechnology” with the opening of Genentech.
Community in South San Francisco is greatly valued. There are many different ways that community manifests itself in the City. One of these ways is through an emphasis on diversity and inclusion. The City is home to several different community centers that are focused on diversity, such as the Basque Cultural Center and the Community Learning Center. The library hosts several culturally diverse storytimes throughout the month, such as a Tagalog, Spanish, and Portuguese storytime. Several resources are hosted on the City’s website that also encourages diversity, such as links to arts and crafts from around the world, and games from around the world that families can play together.
For those that are interested in getting involved in the community, South San Francisco offers many ways to do so. Residents have access to a community garden, where for a small fee per year, they can have a plot that they can maintain and garden in. The police department also has many great opportunities for community involvement. One of these opportunities is a program called Citizen Police Academy, where citizens can get a glimpse of what it is like to go through police academy. Another program that the department offers is the Explorer Cadets, a program for 14-20 year olds that allows them to help police with events, go on ride-alongs, and assist with the records division.
For those looking for recreation, South San Francisco offers many options. Overall, there are 21 parks with playgrounds in the city. The largest one of these parks is Orange Memorial Park, which along with the playground includes a baseball field,
barbeque pits, bocce ball courts, and an indoor swimming pool. South San Francisco also offers several trails for outdoor recreation. Some of the popular ones are located on Sign Hill, a large hill that has the phrase “South San Francisco, The Industrial City” immortalized onto the side.
South San Francisco has several options as far as education goes. The City has seven elementary schools that presided over by the South San Francisco school district: Buri Buri, Martin, Junipero Serra, Spruce, Los Cerritos, Ponderoda, and Sunshine Gardens. The City’s three middle schools are Alta Loma, Parkway Heights, and Westborough, and its three high schools are El Camino, South San Francisco, and Baden high schools.
The average sale price of a home in South San Francisco as of August 2018 was $1,117,668.
Fun Facts: Before South San Francisco was planned out as a city, it was a town called Baden. The original town is now a neighborhood of the City.
South San Francisco has five sister cities: Atotonilco, Mexico, Kishiwada, Japan, Lucca, Italy, Pasig City, Philippines, and Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France.
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