San Francisco, California

I Left My Heart In San Francisco by Tony Bennett

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I left my heart in San Francisco
High on a hill it calls to me Read full Lyrics
The history of some songs can be fascinating. Some become instant hits, some are never heard of again, and some are slow burners. This song was a slow burner.

It was written in 1954 for a singer who sang it but never recorded it. Then eight years later Tony Bennett recorded the song, and the rest, as they say, is history.

It raced up the charts and stayed there for a year or more. It won a Grammy and is played on PA systems time and again at football games and baseball games, at public occasions such as the re-opening of the Oakland Bay Bridge, in theme parks, and, of course, at every Tony Bennett concert. It has become a tradition that after Tony sings this song, the audience stands and applauds with the house lights up. It is literally a show stopper.

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco<br>Photo: Bette KestinThe Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
Photo: Bette Kestin
So popular has Tony Bennett's version become that it rated at #23 in the most significant songs of the 20th century.

Successful songs often attract cover versions, and "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" is no exception, with the Irish pop group Westlife recording a version as recently as 2004. But Tony Bennett has this as his theme song and will always be associated with the melody and lyrics.

Now, it depends on how long you are in town, but if you enjoy fascinating places to see and enjoy, it might be quicker to list where you won't go rather than what you will see and do. One thing you must do is ride one of the many cable cars as mentioned in the song. San Francisco is steep in many parts and you get a great view of the city and the bay from the cable cars.

There are guided tours if you prefer to be taken to places with expert guides. Some of these tours last all day. You could get a bird's eye view with a 30 minute helicopter ride over the city.

There are several unusual places, such as Alcatraz Island and the Muir Woods. Alcatraz is a former prison housed on the island in San Francisco Bay. You take a ferry to the island and tour the jail. Many infamous criminals were housed here and the movie about the birdman of Alcatraz gave the prison even more attention. Escaping from Alcatraz was possible, but surviving the treacherous currents in the bay meant almost certain death.

San Francisco, California<br>Photo: Bette KestinSan Francisco, California
Photo: Bette Kestin
Driving a short way out of town brings you to the magnificent redwood trees in the Muir Woods. The scale of these trees has to be seen to be believed. The area is a National Monument and this area of virgin forest contains some of the tallest and oldest trees on Earth.

Not far from the Muir Forest lies a highly acclaimed wine region of California. The picturesque area is dotted with boutique wineries which offer free tasting to visitors. Wine buffs will be in seventh heaven.

If all that sounds to you like San Francisco is a great place to visit, note that we've almost ignored such places as Fisherman's Wharf, Chinatown, the Golden Gate Bridge, Sausalito, Grace Cathedral, the Japanese Tea Garden, and the Cable Cars. There is almost too much to see and do in this wonderful city by the Bay.

Cen Fox
February 12, 2011
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