To ________________, With Love.

‘Caress each Spanish syllable, salute our Italian saint. Don’t say Frisco and don’t say San-Fran-Cis-Co. It’s more like SanfrnSISco.” -Herbert Eugene “Herb” Caen, San Francisco Journalist/ Pulitzer Winner

Frisco (The One Locals Hate)

So who calls it “Frisco”? The common belief is that visitors/tourists do. And boy do a lot of locals get up in arms about it when they do. If even Jack London, himself wrote a short story called  “And ‘FRISCO Kid Came Back”, why does it evoke a “No” from a majority of locals? Did Herb Caen’s “Don’t Call It Frisco” novel start a revolutionary trend? Maybe. Or is it because it’s really not representative of San Francisco in any way. The mere shortening of a city name is just not enough to make it an unofficial nickname. Think about it. Should we forget about The Windy City and just call Chicago “Chic”? Shall we start calling The Big Easy “Norly”? Certainly not.

San Fran (The One That’s Meh at Best)


Another nickname that is believed to be popular with visitors and tourists. Let’s add young professionals who recently relocated from other states, if not countries. Some say it sounds like it has a cool factor to it. No it doesn’t. Stop trying to make “San Fran” happen. It’s not going to sit well with a lot of locals. It’s the whole being uncool stemming from trying to be cool situation we have here. Sure it receives less of a very adamant “No, don’t call it that!” reaction but it still isn’t acceptable by most native’s standards. In the end, it’s just as lazy and uncreative as Frisco.

Baghdad by the Bay (The One that Means Something)

A nickname from Mr San Francisco himself, Herb Caen. The Pulitzer winning journalist coined the nickname in the late 1940s through the book of the same name. The date it was coined is important since Baghdad isn’t exactly the same as it is now. The nickname is a reference to the exotic characteristics of the city- it being a melting pot of people from all walks of life, race, religion and sexual identity. It projects an image of San Francisco as a historical, cultural and intellectual epicenter.


Paris of the West (The One Not Many People Know nor Use)

Gilded Age Mayor James Phelan certainly popularized the phrase in connection with the “City Beautiful” movement and his pet plan to make the city over into a genuinely world-class cultural center. Phelan employed visionary city planner Daniel Burnham to draw up blueprints for a completely new San Francisco, plans which would have given San Francisco Parisian-style radial boulevards, classical monuments, and a massive park system. Though the city was practically erased by the 1906 Great Fire & Earthquake, that opportunity to make this neo-Gallic dream come true more or less passed us by.


SF (Short, Sweet and Acceptable) 


Pretty self-explanatory. This shortening of San Francisco is commonly used by both tourists and locals, alike.


The Golden City (Does Anyone Really Use This?) 


It sounds pompous, we know. With the Gold Rush and today’s tech boom, yes the city is generating “gold”. But already having a pretty prideful reputation, we doubt a lot of locals use this nickname.


Fog City (The One That Rings True)


Tourist Expectation: A sensuous white blanket embracing the city. Local Reality: Although beautiful, the fog sucks most of the time. That said, the nickname is one of those which actually embody a city characteristic. And for that, we can’t complain.


The City (The One For Bay Area Local-Use)


Come on, you know we all use it here. This is also true for most major metropolitan cities like New York.


City by the Bay (The Crowd Favorite) 


No explanation needed. It sounds good. It feels right. It rings true.

Posted by: Rebecca White on