Best Local Trivia About The Peninsula

February 8, 2014 5:00 AM

Colma (credit: R. Del Rosario/CBS Local)

img 0040 Best Local Trivia About The Peninsula(credit: R. Del Rosario/CBS Local)

Visitors to the San Francisco Peninsula already know that the biggest attractions in the area are further north in San Francisco. The City by the Bay has had a rich history since the Gold Rush days and with it comes plenty of interesting facts. For instance, the Chinese fortune cookie was introduced in San Francisco, as was Irish coffee, and the world famous cable car is the only moving National Historic Monument in the world. While the City by the Bay has its Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island and Tony Bennett left his heart there, the Peninsula has its Heart of San Bruno, a Greek-inspired water temple with a reflecting pool and the site where the San Francisco Bay was first discovered by Spanish explorers. The following are among the best local trivia about the Peninsula.

Colma – The City of the Dead

The town of Colma, near Daly City, is often referred to as the “City of the Dead” or “the City of the Silent” since the population of the dead outnumber the living by more than a thousand to one. Colma was founded in 1924 as a necropolis because bodies were being removed from San Francisco due to public health concerns and the need for more space. Today, more than 75 percent of all acreage in Colma is devoted to cemeteries, with Holy Cross Colma being the oldest and largest. Many famous Americans are buried amongst the 16 cemeteries, including baseball Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio, newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, former San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto, coffee heiress and victim of Charles Manson, Abigail Folger, the self-proclaimed Emperor of the United States Emperor Norton, jean maker Levi Strauss and the legendary Deputy Sheriff of Tombstone, Arizona, Wyatt Earp, forever known for his role in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

Filoli – The Carrington Mansion from “Dynasty”
86 Canada Road
Woodside, CA  94062
(650) 364-8300

This magnificent Gregorian-styled home in Woodside, 30 miles south of San Francisco, has been the location of more Hollywood films than anywhere else in the Peninsula. Completed in 1917 as the home of American entrepreneur William Bowers Bourn, Filoli is a classic American country estate with a 16-acre garden described by Smithsonian as “the most beautiful formal garden in America.” Among the movies filmed here are “Heaven Can Wait” with Warren Beatty and Julie Christie, “The Game” with Michael Douglas, “The Wedding Planner” with Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey and “What Dreams May Come” with Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr. However the most iconic use of Filoli was being featured as the “Carrington” mansion seen in the opening credits of the popular television series “Dynasty,” at one time the top-rated show in the country. The visitor season for Filoli resumes Tuesday, February 11 and runs through Sunday, October 26, 2014.

Flintstone House
Hillsborough, CA 94010

Motorists traveling north on Interstate 280 towards San Francisco may notice an oddly shaped home off Crystal Springs Road in the wealthy community of Hillsborough. Located just a few miles past the intersection of Highway 280 and Highway 92, Bay Area residents have commonly called this the Flintstone House, since it somewhat resembles a stone age dwelling based upon the popular 1960s cartoon. Designed by Bay Area architect William Nicholson, the home made of concrete with familiar domes shaped by inflating aeronautical balloons has three bedrooms, two baths, a two-car garage and measures 2,700 square feet. Although the Flintstone House has changed ownership a number of times, the address is omitted with respect to the privacy of the residents. Today, the dwelling’s distinctive burnt orange color makes it easily recognizable from Highway 280 and remains a point of conversation whenever motorists pass by.

img 0083 Best Local Trivia About The Peninsula

(credit: R. Del Rosario/CBS Local)

Sweeney Ridge – Discovery Site of the San Francisco Bay
San Bruno, CA  94044
(415) 561-4323

A California Historical Landmark and National Historic Landmark, Sweeney Ridge is the site of the first recorded European discovery of the San Francisco Bay. Also known as the San Francisco Bay Discovery Site, Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola and his expedition of 60 men and 200 horses and mules reached the 1,200-foot summit of Sweeney Ridge on November 4, 1769. Today, there are two commemorative monuments honoring the Portola Expedition atop Sweeney Ridge and is generally accessed by walking or bicycling along the paved road. For those with mobility impediments, a drive-through visit can be arranged with the National Park Service. Sweeney Ridge is about a 25-minute drive from San Francisco and the closest parking is at the Sneath Lane Trailhead off Highway 35 in San Bruno.

World’s First Motion Picture
Stanford University
450 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA  94305
(650) 723-2300

Hollywood may be the world epicenter of filmmaking, but many of today’s movie fans might not realize that the first motion picture was filmed and produced in the San Francisco Peninsula. As part of a research experiment financed by railroad tycoon Leland Stanford and conducted by English photographer Eadweard Muybridge between 1878 and 1879, a series of photographs were shot in succession of a racehorse to determine if a horse ever lifts all four hoofs off the ground simultaneously. Using 24 cameras fitted with electro-shutters, the experiment was held at the Palo Alto Stock Farm, now on the property of Stanford University. While two original buildings of the Stock Farms remain today, a single, practically obscure California Historical Landmark plaque lies along Campus Drive across from the Stanford Gold Driving Range and Junipero Serra Boulevard to commemorate the Development of Motion Pictures. More than 450 works of Muybridge, including a rare copy of “Horse in Motion,” are at the Cantor Arts Center, also known as the Stanford Museum.

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on

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