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San Francisco Pathfinder

Resources for learning about San Francisco

These online and print resources were assembled for students and teachers who are studying this beautiful city of San Francisco, California. From original American Indian communities, to the raucous Gold Rush days, to the 1906 earthquake, San Francisco’s history is both appalling and fascinating. In the more modern era, learn about some of the impressive features of the City and some organizations working to make it a better place everyday, for everyone.


Internet and Print Resources


Where is San Francisco? What does it look like?

Interactive map of San Francisco:

New & old San Francisco photos, mapped:


The City by the Bay:  A Magical Journey Around San Francisco, By Tricia Brown (1993).  917.9 BRO

San Francisco, By Deborah Kent (1997). 979.4 KEN

ABC in San Francisco, By Robin Segal (2008).  428.1 SEG


Who lived here first?

Oakland Museum Webquest

Learn about some of the Native Americans who first lived in California, and in the area we now call San Francisco:

“WANTED: Information About the Disappearance of the First Californians”










Orrin Lewis's website, American Indian Facts for Kids:


What was the Gold Rush?

This interactive website is from the Oakland Museum of California, and has a lot of great information and photos about this interesting period in time:


John Sutter, California Pioneer, by Chris Hayhurst (2004).  B SUT

The California Gold Rush, graphic novel by Elizabeth Hudson-Goff and Dale Anderson (2006). 741.5 HUD

California Gold Rush, by Peter Roop (2002).  979.4  ROO

California Gold Rush Cooking, by Lisa Golden Schroeder (2001).  641.5 SCH


What happened during the Great Quake of 1906?

Four days before the Great 1906 Earthquake in San Francisco, someone made this amazing video by attaching a camera to the front of a streetcar while it traveled down Market Street!

You can find photos and information about the 1906 quake on this United States Geological Survey website:

1906 Earthquake Powerpoint slideshow: 16 Views of the Great Earthquake and Fire (in PowerPoint)


Surviving the San Francisco Earthquake, by Joann Cleland (2010).  979.4 CLE

The San Francisco Earthquake, by John Dudman (1988).  979.4 DUD

If You Lived at the Time of the Great San Francisco Earthquake, by Ellen Levine (1987). 979.4 STE


How is the government organized in San Francisco?

City Hall

This website contains current and past photos of San Francisco’s impressive City Hall, as well as lots of information about the building and the people who work there:


Office of the Mayor


Board of Supervisors


SF Youth Commission

The SF Youth Commission is a group of 17 young people ages 12-23 that advises the Board of Supervisors and Mayor on laws and policies related to youth in San Francisco.


SF Board of Education



The Harvey Milk Story, by Kari Krakow (2001).  B MILK


What is there to do in this city?

SF Recreation & Parks


SF Symphony Kids' Site


SF Public Library Kids' Site

Get a library card!



Chinese New Year, by Tricia Brown (1997).  394.2 BRO

Good Night San Francisco, by Adam Gamble (2006).  E GAM

Golden Gate Park, by Helen Ludwig (1984).  917.9 LUD

Our Community Garden, by Barbara Pollak (2004).  E POL


Symbols of the City

Golden Gate Bridge

Explore this website to see pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge and learn about when, how, and by whom the bridge was constructed:



San Francisco has two official songs, which you can read about here:

One song, “San Francisco,” is sung by Jeanette MacDonald in a 1936 film you can see in this clip.

Another, the official ballad, was sung by Tony Bennett in 1962.  It’s called “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”


City Flower

The dahlia is the official flower of San Francisco. The dahlia was chosen because it came from Mexico, and California once belonged to Mexico.  You can read about it and see photos of the Dahlia Grove in Golden Gate Park here:


City Colors

The colors are black and gold. They stand for the two metals iron and gold.


San Francisco’s Motto

The motto, “Oro en Paz, Fierro en Guerra” is Spanish. It means “Gold in Peace, Iron in War.”


Official Flag

The flag is white with gold edge. It shows the phoenix rising from fire. The designer of the flag meant it to show San Francisco rising to new power under a new charter, but now most people like to believe it shows San Francisco rising from the ashes of the 1906 earthquake and fire. On it is written the motto, “Oro en Paz, Fierro en Guerra.” (“Gold in Peace, Iron in War.”)


Official Seal

The official seal of San Francisco was designed in 1861. It has a picture of a miner, a sailor, a phoenix and a scroll saying, “Oro en Paz, Fierro en Guerra.” Around the seal it says “Seal of the City and County of San Francisco.” The seal can be seen many places around the city.


Official Tree

The official city tree is a 100-foot Monterey Cypress in front of McLaren Lodge at Kennedy Drive.


Official Musical Instrument

Piano Accordion!  Read about it here:


City Bird

The California quail



Pop’s Bridge, by Eve Bunting (2006).  E BUN

Mission San Francisco de Asis, by Kathleen J. Edgar (2000).  979.4 EDG

Golden Gate Bridge, by Julie Murray (2003).  624 MUR


Recommended fiction titles with a San Francisco theme:


Someone is Hiding on Alcatraz Island, by Eve Bunting (1984).  FIC BUN

Al Capone Does My Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko (2006).  FIC CHO

The Twenty-One Balloons, by William Pene DuBois (1975).  FIC DUB

Francis, the Earthquake Dog, by Judith Ross Enderle (1996).  E END

Red Means Good Fortune:  A Story of San Francisco Chinatown, by Barbara Diamond Goldin (1996).  FIC GOL

Shannon:  A Chinatown Adventure, by Kathleen Kudlinski (1996).  FIC KUD

Beyond Escape!  by R. A. Montgomery (2005).  FIC MON

Earthquake in the Early Morning, by Mary Pope Osborne (2001). FIC OSB

Nate the Great, San Francisco Detective, by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat & Mitchell Sharmat (2002). E SHA

The Earth Dragon Awakes:  The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, by Laurence Yep (2006).  FIC YEP