The Official Musical Instrument of San Francisco (and Other Lesser-Known Facts)


Yesterday, during an interview, a reporter asked me how many miles of streets there are in San Francisco.

“1088 miles,” I answered.

(and of those 1,088 miles, a few hundred will be closed this weekend for the Nike Women's Marathon. See map for details):

“What’s the widest Street?”

“Junipero Serra Boulevard of course at 254 feet and the narrowest is De Forest Way at four and a half feet,”

It quickly turned into a rapid fire Jeopardy Q&A format.

“What’s the oldest street?”

“What is Grant Ave? 1865.

“How long is the Golden Gate Bridge?”

“1.7 miles…and the length of the Bay Bridge is 8.4 miles, there are 8.8 miles of cable car track, 7.5 miles of waterfront, 65 miles of park streets, and 29.5 miles of shoreline.”         

He seemed satisfied with my answers and the interview was over. But being the curious sort (and wanting to be prepared, just in case he called me with some follow up questions), I researched some facts about San Francisco that I didn’t know, such as the official musical instrument of SF, and the precise formula for the paint on the Golden Gate Bridge. I now present you with that list of lesser-known interesting facts about San Francisco: 

Speed of cable cars                                                                       

9.5 mph

Total number of visitors to San Francisco Last Year

16.35 million

Number of foghorns around the San Francisco Bay               


Average number of vehicles crossing the Bay Bridge yearly          


Average number of vehicles crossing the Golden Gate Bridge yearly        


Number of years to construct the Golden Gate Bridge          

4 years

Color Formula for the Paint on the Golden Gate Bridge

CMYK colors are: C= Cyan: 0%, M =Magenta: 69%, Y =Yellow: 100%, K = Black: 6%.

Highest Point in SF:                                                                        

Mt. Davidson 938 feet

Tallest Structures              

Sutro Tower is the tallest structure at 981 feet

The Transamerica Pyramid is the tallest building at 853 feet

Oldest Structure

Mission Dolores  (Aug. 2, 1791)

Number of High Rises (eight stories and above)                    


Official Flower                                                                                             


Official Birds                                                                                    

The Mythical Phoenix Rising, California Quail, (and a case can be made for the Western Gull)

Number of Hills       

There are 43 hills within San Francisco, major ones are: Twin Peaks (910' and 903'), Nob (376'), Russian (294') and Telegraph (248')


San Francisco, for the most part, rests on a foundation of sandstone, shale and volcanic rock. Large deposits of serpentine, official rock of California, are located in the Presidio.

Official Song

"San Francisco"                                  

Official Ballad

"I Left My Heart in San Francisco" 

Official Musical Instrument

The accordion

Official Motto                       

Oro en paz, Fierro en guerra (Gold in peace, Iron in War)

Feel free to add to the list in the comment! (official and unofficial facts accepted)!


David LaBua is the author of Finding the Sweet Spot, Founder of VoicePark, the world’s first turn-by-turn voice-guided mobile  parking app, and a leader in the sustainable urban mobility movement.


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