10 San Francisco Nicknames (And Where They Come From)

San Francisco is one of the most iconic cities in America and even the world. The city is a major cultural center that offers anything from amazing sightseeing journeys to wonderful culinary and shopping experiences.

Thanks to all the unique aspects associated with San Francisco, it’s no wonder that the state has picked up some interesting nicknames throughout its history. Some of these nicknames fell back into obscurity while others really took off.

In today’s article, we’ll walk you through a list of San Francisco Nicknames as well as the reason behind them. So without further ado, let’s dive right in!

San Francisco Nicknames

1. The City of Fog

Kicking off the list with one of the most popular nicknames of the states. San Francisco is often called the “City of Fog” or “Fog City” due to the huge blanket of cloudy fog that usually covers the San Francisco Bay Area.

Although the fog can be seen throughout the year, it’s especially prevalent in warm weather, as the months June, July, and August are usually the foggiest. Some locals even have names for this particular weather, which is “June Gloom”.

Read Also: 17 Nicknames For Chicago

2. Frisco

Frisco is one of the most commonly used nicknames to describe San Francisco. However, the locals aren’t usually big fans of that particular nickname, especially the elderly.

In fact, the negative sentiment towards the nickname “Frisco” dates back to the mid 1800s, as it was considered a bit “lazy”. With that said, it seems like newer generations don’t really mind the short nickname.

Another reason why Frisco is highly debated as a good nickname for San Francisco is that it can cause confusion with other cities in the United States that hold the same name, such as the ones in Texas and Colorado.

Read Also: 10 Nicknames for Los Angeles

3. San Fran

Another shortened version of the word “San Francisco” is often used by Los Angeles natives, despite being unpopular among San Francisco locals for the same reasons above.

While the term isn’t offensive, it’s simply not commonly used by the locals, so it’s highly unlikely that you’ll find anyone in the city calling it “San Fran”.

In other words, if someone claims to be from San Francisco and refers to it as “San Fran”, they’re probably lying.

Read Also: 8 Nicknames for Seattle

4. The City by the Bay

The Bay of San Francisco is one of the most important natural landmarks of the city, which is why the city has always been nicknamed “The City by the Bay”.

In addition to being quite popular, it’s also quite historic. The earliest records of the name being used were during the city’s population boom during the gold rush in the mid 19th century. At that time, the population of the city increased by up to 2500% in a span of one year!

In fact, this nickname is so popular that it was incorporated officially in 1850, and to this day, many locals like to refer to their city by that endearing name.

5. The Golden City

This one refers to the California Gold Rush that occurred back in 1848 when reports of gold being found in the hills of northern California became nationwide news.

At that time, almost 300 thousand people immigrated to California from all over the world, but mainly from eastern American states.

Keep in mind that, despite the popularity of the gold rush, the Golden Gate bridge didn’t earn its name due to actual gold.

Instead, both the bridge and the strait are named after the Golden Horn of the Bosporus in Turkey.

Alternatively, some people also believe that the “Golden City” refers to its golden brown grass during the summer.

6. The City that Knows How

Upon the completion of the Panama Canal, the Panama-Pacific International Exposition was held in San Francisco to celebrate its opening later in 1915.

With the approaching event happening a few years after the 1906 devastating earthquake and fire, President William H. Taft used that term to praise the city’s efforts to recover during a formal luncheon held at the Cliff House.

The term is rarely used these days when compared to other terms, although you might still read it in promotional pamphlets and news outlets every now and then.

7. The 415

A lot of cities use their area codes as a nickname, and San Francisco isn’t an exception to this rule. You can actually find the number “415” on designs, graffiti, t-shirts, etc all throughout the city.

415 actually refers to the area code of the city. However, the code is also used to serve a portion of the neighboring Marin county, which may cause some confusion.

8. “SF” or “SFC”

They are pronounced “Es Ef”, and while they’re not particularly nicknames, they’re the most common abbreviations used to describe San Francisco.

In fact, even locals and those who are originally from San Francisco may use “SF or “SFC” to describe the city.

Thanks to the popularity of the city and the lack of confusion when SF is used anywhere, the term is still commonly used by everyone to this day.

9. The Paris of the West

This nickname used to be very popular in promotional pamphlets back in the late 19th century and the early 20th century.

It was used as a marketable nickname that can attract potential residents and tourists to the city. However, the city quickly found its own niches, so the term is almost never used anymore.

10. The City

Last but not least, the most popular nickname of San Francisco among the locals is perhaps the simplest.

Besides obvious reasons, locals used to call it “The City” because there wasn’t much surrounding San Francisco, so they didn’t need to distinguish it.

Final Thoughts

This wraps it up for today’s guide about all the different San Francisco nicknames in addition to the reason why it’s called so.

As you can see, there are plenty of names that are used to refer to San Francisco. However, you should always keep in mind that not all of them are popular among the locals, especially the elderly.