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USGS Satellite photo of the San Francisco Bay Area. The San Francisco peninsula protrudes northward. San Francisco is at its tip.

The San Francisco Peninsula is a peninsula in California that separates the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. On its northern tip is the City and County of San Francisco. Its southern base is in Santa Clara County, including the cities of Palo Alto, Los Altos, and Mountain View. The lion's share of the Peninsula is in San Mateo County, between San Francisco and Santa Clara counties, and including the cities and towns of Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, Colma, Daly City, East Palo Alto, El Granada, Foster City, Half Moon Bay, Hillsborough, La Honda, Menlo Park, Millbrae, Montara, Pacifica, Pescadero, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Gregorio, San Mateo, South San Francisco, and Woodside.

As a local geographic term, "The Peninsula" is distinct from "The City", and refers to the portion south of San Francisco. The appellation may date to the period, prior to 1856, when the City of San Francisco and the County of San Francisco were separate entities, the latter then coextensive with contemporary San Mateo County and San Francisco City-County. The City-County owns several disjunct properties along the whole of the Peninsula (mostly water pumping stations connected to the Hetch Hetchy Valley on which San Francisco has a permament leasehold); thus, most of the larger communities in San Mateo County are de facto suburbs of San Francisco, with the neighboring communities of Pacifica, Daly City, Broadmoor, Colma, South San Francisco, San Bruno, and Brisbane being immediate suburbs. The remaining suburban area of the Peninsula is on the east side of the San Mateo Highlands, along San Francisco Bay; the west and south-central portions of the Peninsula are mostly rural, unincorporated and unorganised areas.

The east side of the peninsula is a largely densely populated area that includes portions of Silicon Valley. It forms a commuter area between San Francisco to the north and San Jose to the south. A number of major thoroughfares run north-south: El Camino Real (SR 82) and US 101 on the east side along the bay, Interstate 280 down the center, Skyline Boulevard (SR 35) along the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and Highway 1 on the west along the Pacific. The Caltrain commuter rail line runs roughly parallel to the El Camino and Highway 101 corridors.

Three bridges—the Dumbarton Bridge, the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, and the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge—cross San Francisco Bay from the Peninsula. To the north, the Golden Gate Bridge connects San Francisco with Marin County.

Along the center line of the Peninsula is the northern half of the Santa Cruz Mountains, formed by the action of plate tectonics along the San Andreas Fault. In the middle of the Peninsula along the fault is the Crystal Springs reservoir. Just north of the Crystal Springs reservoir is San Andreas Lake after which the famous geologic fault was named.

Environmental features

The San Francisco Peninsula contains a gamut of habitats including estuarine, marine, oak woodland, redwood forest, coastal scrub and oak savanna. There are numerous species of wildlife present, especially along the San Francisco Bay estuarine shoreline, San Bruno Mountain, Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and the forests on the Montara Mountain block.

The county is home to several endangered species including the San Francisco garter snake, the Mission blue butterfly and the San Bruno elfin butterfly, all of which are endemic to San Mateo County. The endangered California clapper rail is also found on the shores of San Francisco Bay, in the cities of Belmont and San Mateo.

A number of noteworthy parks and nature preserves are found on the San Francisco Peninsula, including:

Notable structures

There are a number of well known structures and complexes on the San Francisco Peninsula:








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