San Francisco

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Hello San Francisco!

Rome is famous for its seven hills, but it ain't got nothing on undulating San Francisco. With at least 42 different hills – or more, depending on your definition – San Francisco is physically defined by its steep streets and the cable cars that trundle their way along them. You could as easily argue that in this respect the city is defined by the sparkling red of the Golden Gate Bridge, the sting-like Transamerica Pyramid skyscraper or the creeping San Francisco fog.

But heritage streetcars, spectacular structures, and weather patterns are not what really define San Francisco. This is a city that strolls to the beat of artistic creativity and technological progress and has done for well over 50 years. The irrepressible energy of Silicon Valley has put the city at the forefront of the world's digital economy, but the city's countercultural credentials are what make it so uniquely special.

There was the Beat generation of the 1950s and the hippies of the 1960s, whose legacies live on in places like the City Lights Bookstore. The term 'hippie' was even coined in this city, used by a legendary San Fran journalist to describe the countercultural San Franciscans. Herb Caen was the journalist's name, and he also once professed that "One day if I do go to heaven, I'll look around and say, 'It ain't bad, but it ain't San Francisco.' "

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