The history of the city of San Francisco, California, and its development as a center of maritime trade, have been greatly influenced by its location at the entrance to one of the world's best natural harbors. San Francisco is the name of both the city and the county, which share the same boundaries.
The first Native Americans to settle this region found the bay to be a vast natural resource for hunting and gathering their provisions and for the establishment of many small villages. Collectively, these early Native Americans were known as the Ohlone, and the language they spoke belonged to the Miwok family. Their trade patterns included places as far away as Baja California, the Mojave Desert and Yosemite
The first Europeans to see what would become San Francisco were members of a Spanish exploratory voyage led by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. Cabrillo, sailing north from Mexico, explored the coast as far north as Point Reyes, but failed to discover the entrance to San Francisco Bay. An English expedition led by Sir Francis Drake also sailed past the bay entrance in 1579. Drake mapped the coast and called the cliffs by the bay "Nova Albion" but made little effort to claim or settle the land.
The earliest European colonial enterprises came in 1769, led north from Mexico by Spaniards Don Gaspar de PortolÃ and Fra. Junipero Serra. The Spanish found this location to be of great strategic significance, establishing both military and religious settlements. The Presidio of San Francisco was the center of military activities, while Mission San Francisco de AsÃs began the cultural/religious conversion of some 10,000 Ohlone who lived in the area. The mission was also known as Mission Dolores because of its nearness to a creek named after Our Lady of Sorrows. The small settlement that grew up near the Mission was known as Yerba Buena, after the herb of the same name that grew in abundance there. Today's city took its name from the Mission, and Yerba Buena remained the name of a San Francisco neighborhood until the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the area began to be known as SoMa. The Moscone Center and Yerba Buena Gardens were built within the old Yerba Buena area.
San Francisco became part of the United States with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. San Francisco is now estimated to be the twelfth largest city in the United States, and has been characterized by rapid economic change and cultural diversity.