Local Life and Lore in the San Francisco Bay Area

Before you visit San Francisco's Bay Area, brush up on these facts to fit in with the locals.
By: Ellen Lee

GEOGRAPHY

To get around the San Francisco Bay Area, learn these terms, abbreviations and location nicknames:

  • SoMa — San Francisco's South of Market neighborhood was the epicenter for the dot-com boom and bust. Though many of the failed Internet startups moved out, they've since been replaced by new up-and-coming Web companies, known as Web 2.0, including the San Francisco offices of MySpace.
  • Panhandle — The Panhandle is a long, skinny park that connects to Golden Gate Park and looks like the handle to Golden Gate Park's pan.
  • NoPa — NoPa is the neighborhood North of the Panhandle.
  • Tendernob — The area between the upscale Nob Hill and the seedy Tenderloin neighborhood is known as the Tendernob.
  • Dogpatch — A warehouse and industrial neighborhood on the city's eastern waterfront. It was named a historic district in 2003 because it contains some of the city's oldest houses, unscathed by the 1906 earthquake.
  • Berzerkley — Berkeley is often affectionately referred to as Berzerkley, reflecting its extreme left-wing politics.
  • Lamorinda — In the East Bay, the cluster of tony suburbs Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda is called Lamorinda.
  • Oaktown — One of Oakland's many nicknames.
  • BART — The Bay Area Rapid Transit takes commuters between San Francisco, the San Francisco International Airport and the Peninsula on one end and various parts of the East Bay on the other. That includes transporting them across the bay through an underwater tunnel.
  • Muni — Locals call the San Francisco Municipal Railway — the city's buses and streetcars — the Muni.

FACTS TO KNOW

  • Being square. The city of San Francisco measures approximately 49 square miles — or 7 by 7, which is also the name of one of the city's glossy magazines.
  • Life in the fog. The fog rolls into San Francisco regularly, keeping temperatures cool even in the summer. It's easy to distinguish the tourists from the locals: The tourists wear T-shirts and shorts and look like they're freezing. Locals are in layers.
  • On shaky ground. One concern most residents have is for the next "big one" — that is, the next big earthquake. Some parts of the city are shakier than others; neighborhoods such as the Marina were built on landfill and susceptible to liquefaction during an earthquake.
  • Bitter rivalry. The Bay Area is home to two top universities, Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley, and their rivalry is intense. Each year during football season, they face off in the Big Game, battling to claim the Stanford Axe, the trophy. The game that remains the most talked about is the 1982 face-off: Stanford was leading in the final minutes, but Berkeley had the ball. The Stanford marching band, mistakenly thinking the game had ended, rushed onto the field to celebrate. In what is now known as "The Play," Berkeley won the game when one of its players made the final touchdown by running through the band.
  • Gone to the dogs. San Franciscans love their dogs. Recent figures from the Census and the city found that dogs outnumber children in the city.
  • Misquoted. Mark Twain is often quoted as having said, "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." But that quote has never been verified and is not considered authentic.  
Keep Reading

Next Up

Local Life and Lore in Kansas City

Blend in with native Kansas Citians by picking up the local history and colloquialisms.

Local Life and Lore in Tampa Bay

Learn these terms and teams to blend in with the locals.

Local Life and Lore in San Antonio

Learn more about this colorful Texas town.

Local Life and Lore in San Diego

Get to know the ins and outs of San Diego with these local insider tips.

San Francisco Bay Area Essentials

Find the best places to go in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Local Lingo and Lore in New York City

Fit in with NYC natives by learning these key terms and facts.

San Francisco Bay Area: Like No Place Else

Learn what makes the Bay Area unique.

10 Great Neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area

In the San Francisco Bay Area, home sweet home can range from an urban loft to a refuge in the hills. Discover 10 diverse Bay Area neighborhoods to find the one that's best for you.

Local Life and Lore in Minneapolis

Here, get all the insider info on the local lingo and traditions.

Local Life and Lore in Nashville

Get the inside scoop on what to do and say (and not do and say) when in Nashville, Tennessee.

On TV

Music Videos

10am | 9c

Music Videos

11am | 10c

Time Capsule

1pm | 12c

Living Alaska

6:30pm | 5:30c

Living Alaska

7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Living Alaska

8pm | 7c

Living Alaska

8:30pm | 7:30c

Living Alaska

9:30pm | 8:30c

Living Alaska

10pm | 9c

Living Alaska

10:30pm | 9:30c

Living Alaska

12am | 11c

Living Alaska

12:30am | 11:30c

Living Alaska

1am | 12c

Living Alaska

1:30am | 12:30c

Living Alaska

2:30am | 1:30c

Top GAC Shows

Flea Market Flip

Consult Program Guide

Living Alaska

Tuesdays 9pm | 8c

Top 20 Countdown

Consult Program Guide

Flippin' RVs

Wednesdays 9|8c

Get Social With Us

Let's explore this country together.