a city in the US state of California, on San Francisco Bay. It is built on hills and is known for its beautiful views and Victorian style houses. It was established by the Spanish in 1776 as Yerba Buena, taken by the US in 1846 and given its present name the following year. It grew rapidly after the Gold Rush but was badly damaged by an earthquake (= a sudden, violent movement of the earth's surface) in 1906. Its many tourist attractions include the cable cars (= public vehicles that carry passengers up and down the steep hills), Golden Gate Bridge, the restaurants along Fisherman's Wharf, Nob Hill, Haight-Ashbury, Alcatraz and Chinatown. San Francisco is a financial and communications centre and a centre for trade with Asia.