Amazingly, the San Francisco Bay was one of the last major features of the California coast to be discovered by Spanish and other European explorers. Because the Golden Gate is so narrow and often shrouded in thick fog, explorers in their ships simply missed its existence. And so the Ohlone native people who inhabited the area were able to continue their lives in peace into the latter half of the 18th century. It wasn’t until 1776 that the Spanish military arrived, bringing with them the diseases and prejudices that changed the Ohlone way of life forever.
The modern history of San Francisco  began with the Gold Rush. With the Bay’s safe harbor, and the Sacramento River sitting right there and providing easy transit out to the gold fields, San Francisco made the perfect port of entry for gold seekers sailing in from all over the world.
It was this mass immigration that started San Francisco  on its journey of ethnic diversity and tolerance. (Granted, this tolerance didn’t come easy, and minorities fight for equality to this very day.) The funding of the Transcontinental Railroad came from San Francisco tycoons eager to create a direct link from the big cities back east to their lucrative western enterprises. The 19th century saw incredible growth and development in the City of San Francisco and the beginnings of population in the surrounding Bay Area.
San Francisco  had a strong identity as a military town in the middle of the 20th century. Tens of thousands of troops shipped out of the Presidio  and Angel Island  to the Pacific theater in World War II. It was only in the 1980s and 1990s that the military presence at Alameda and the Presidio declined and eventually ceased altogether.
In the late 1960s, San Francisco  became a haven for flower children, anti-war activists, and civil rights leaders working to usher a new era of peace and tolerance to the United States. One lasting result of the City’s tolerance of the hippies was its rise as a great place to live gay. Unlike much of the rest of the country, San Francisco’s citizens have allowed and even encouraged the gay culture in their town, inviting queer folk by the thousands to live in a place that acccepted them.
Sadly, the large concentration of gay men in San Francisco led to the City becoming an early epicenter of the AIDS epidemic. AIDS activism followed soon afterward, and today the gay community spearheads organizations that educate and inform the public about HIV/AIDS.
Down south, Stanford University  and its associated research organizations spent the 1960s and 1970s quietly working on a crazy new idea. They had the bizarre notion that if they used telephone lines and special equipment, they could get one computer to talk to another computer all the way across the country at MIT. And so the Internet was born. The 1980s in the formerly pastoral Santa Clara Valley saw the rise of Apple and the personal computer and the coining of the nickname “Silicon Valley .”
The 1990s hosted the dot-com boom, with money being thrown around like confetti and jobs for everyone who wanted them. In the 21st century, the dot-com bust leveled out an industry that had gone completely out of its mind. Despite the bust, the whole of the Bay Area  was changed forever, and technology remains an integral part of a region that’s almost always the first to adopt the latest new high-tech gadgets.
Today, technology, tolerance, and innovation continue to inform the unique culture that permeates the San Francisco Bay Area .