What’s in a Nickname? Part 2 of 3

Baghdad by the Bay (The One that Means Something) 


“One day if I do go to heaven, I’m going to do what every San Franciscan does who goes to heaven. I’ll look around and say, “It ain’t bad but it ain’t San Francisco”.

-Herb Caen

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.


Posted by: Rebecca White on