You can definitely identify yourself as a local if you refer to your city as The City. When you refer to San Francisco as The City, people best know you’re talking about San Francisco because there’s no other real city near. This is the city. People all over the Bay, from Marin to Richmond to Dublin to San Jose, know where you’re going if you say you’re headed to The City.
Sam Johnson – San Francisco, or better known as “The City” / 3:25
City by the Bay
Natives don’t mind this affectionate nickname because San Franciscans like to be reminded of the city’s beautiful location. Even natives are still blown away by the view every time they cross the Golden Gate or the Bay Bridge.
So now we get to the ‘uncool’ nickname. There’s a pretty big debate, with some saying that some locals like it but for the most part, usage of this nickname is the mark of an outsider. While in conversation it might flow, you’ll get some looks when saying, “I’m headed into San Fran for the day.” LA natives often refer to San Francisco as San Fran and they get dirty looks every time.
The Golden City
Derived from the Gold Rush, San Francisco got a pretty rad nickname that locals use and might add to a feeling a tad self entitled. They know their city is actually The Golden City because it’s honestly so great, but that doesn’t mean they literally use the nickname. The Golden City is a proved nickname from our Golden Gate Bridge to the golden hills all the way to the golden sunset. Even though locals know the truth, outsiders shouldn’t start calling San Francisco The Golden City.
Ah, the great debate along San Francisco and the rest of the country. It makes sense in a way, but the thing is that there are two other actual towns in the country named Frisco. There is no point constructing a name that’s just a shortened form of the original, just like people don’t say they are going to ‘Angles’ when they are going to Los Angeles or ‘Nork’ when they are going to New York. You will run into a number of San Franciscans that get angry and say something when you call San Francisco this name, just because this is not what you call San Francisco.
People from California don’t say ‘Cali.’ When they say ‘Cal,’ they mean UC Berkeley, and they don’t butcher the name of San Francisco. If you say ‘Frisco or San Fran, you’re letting people know you aren’t from San Francisco and setting yourself up for dirty looks. If you’re a local, or just trying to fit in, stick with The City.