Still Dreaming of San Francisco Despite the Tarnish

Five reasons why we stay even after the tech bros invaded.

Anna (she/her)
9 min readMay 14, 2021


Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area (“Bay Area”), some of my earliest memories as a child are taking out-of-town visitors to see the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf, Stanford University, and UC Berkeley.

I recently read Sara Benincasa’s hilarious essay New Jersey Is Perfect and felt inspired to write an ode to my home. Reading about her love for her home state prompted me to try and capture in writing what my home state is like. I won’t even try to be funny as I can’t match her wit and humor.

California has been both the butt of many jokes and is sometimes portrayed as an idealized place in the TV and movie landscape. Yes, we have great weather and a beautiful coastline. But California is so much more than just the home of hippie liberals, Hollywood actors, pseudo-celebrities, and obnoxious tech bros.

For this essay, I’m going to focus on the Bay Area, which is just a small portion of the state. Yet it is almost the equivalent size and density of New Jersey. The region includes three big cities: San Francisco (aka SF or “The City” but never “Frisco”), San Jose (“the heart of Silicon Valley” but it’s still a pretty sleepy “big city” of over 1M people), and Oakland (a hella cool city that’s the birthplace of the Black Panthers, many major musical acts, and where the term “hella” originated).

Those three cities could not be more different in size, demographics, density, and attitudes. Together, they play a powerful economic and social role that affects the rest of our country and the world at large.

Before Silicon, There Was Fruit

Before the tech industry sprouted here, the Bay Area was a far sleepier region focused on farming and its position as a major port for moving goods in from Asia.

By the time I was growing up here in the 1970s, the huge orchards were largely gone. There only remained some small plots of land with fruit trees and rows of strawberries when we drove through the Valley. Back then, Silicon Valley was a known term but many still considered the Valley’s historical role as an agricultural hub.



Anna (she/her)

9X Top Writer. Proud grad of CA public schools. Committed to justice & leadership development. Wife & mom of 2 girls & 2 big dogs. Love to eat almost everything