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San Francisco

San Francisco is the fourth largest city in the state of California. It is situated at the northern tip of a 50 kilometres Peninsula that forms San Francisco Bay. The San Francisco Bay area is 1285 km² big. San Francisco owns 120 km² of this area.

Oakland, San Jose and nine other counties which are also situated in the Bay Area belong to SanFrancisco. That’s the reason why the population of San Francisco increases to 6 Million.

776.773 people of them are living in San Francisco itself. The city is situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. It is famous for its hills and the streets which run straight up and down them. Three of San Francisco’s notable hill neighbourhoods are Nob Hill, Russian Hill and Tele graph Hill, all located in or near the downtown area.

degree of latitude: 37degree of longitude: 122

The climate in the San Francisco Bay is generally temperate. Surrounded on three sides by water, San Francisco’s climate is strongly influenced by the cool currents of the Pacific Ocean. The weather is remarkably mild all year round, with a so called Mediterranean climate. This Mediterranean climate is characterized by cool, foggy summers and relatively warm winters. Consequently the temperature nearly never falls under 0 degrees and it only sometimes reaches 23 degrees in the summer. Rain in the summer is rare, but winters can often be very rainy. Snow is virtually unheard of. As a result it can be said that the climate is not really influenced by the seasons. About 40 miles south of San Francisco is the Silicon Valley, which holds much of the computer business in the world. Because of the California gold rush, San Francisco became and remains the banking and financial centre of the US coast.

San Francisco is both a city and a county. It is governed by a mayor, who runs the executive branch of the city, and a Board of Supervisors, who are elected to represent 11 districts in the city.You can find many different races in San Francisco. For example: White peoples, African Americans, Native Americans, Asian, Pacific Islander, etc.. You see we have a multicultural city! The city is serviced by several public transit systems. Muni is the city-owned public transit system which operates buses, electric trolleybuses, streetcars and the famous cable cars. BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is the regional transit system, which connects San Francisco with the East Bay and the Sun Mateo County.

1542 - European discovery and exploration of the San Francisco Bay Area

1775 - mapping of the bay

1776 - first colonialists from Spain

1822 - area first began to develop as a city under the name of Yerba Buena

1846 - Commodore John D. Sloat took it in the name of the United States.

1847 - 30 th January: the city was renamed ‘San Francisco’

1848 - 24 th January: the first gold clod was found

1848-1849 - population in creased from 1.000 to 25.000 people

1855 - University of San Francisco was founded

1870 - Golden Gate Park was built

1873 - first cable cars

1906 - April 18 th : devastating earthquake struck the city

8.25 on the Richter scale

1936 - San Francisco Oakland Bridge was opened

1937 - Golden Gate Bridge was opened

1945 - United Nations Charter was drafted at San Francisco

1960s - San Francisco was the centre of hippie culture

1970s - large numbers of gay people moved to San Francisco’s Castro district

1989 - October 17 th : biggest earthquake since 1906


Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the opening into the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. The colour of the bridge is International Orange. It was completed in 1937 and it is widely considered one of the most beautiful examples of bridge engineering. Until 1964 it was the longest suspension bridge in the world.

The bridge was the brainchild of Joseph Strauss, an engineer. The construction of the bridge began on January 5 th , 1933. It is 1.22 miles (1970m) long, the distance between the towers is 4200ft (1280m), and their height is 746 feet (230m) above the water. It cost $35 Million. By the way, it costs you 5$ to use the bridge with your car!!!


The entry of Grant Avenue’s Chinatown is the gloriously decorated Chinatown Gate. The gate was a gift to San Francisco from the Republic of China in 1969. It was unveiled in 1970. There is a big Cookie Factory in Chinatown that opened in August 1962. The streets of Chinatown are lined with restaurants, shops and trading companies. Chinatown has more visitors annually than the Golden Gate Bridge.

Alcatraz Island

It is located in the middle of San Francisco Bay in California. Alcatraz was a military fort from 1850 to 1933. On January 1, 1934 the island became a federal prison. The best known criminal who was held in the jail was Al Capone. The prison was closed on March 21, 1963 because it was far more expensive to operate than other prisons of the time. During its 29 years of operation, there wasn’t any successful escape. All attempts were either unsuccessful or tragic. The island is also known as ‘The Rock’. Today Alcatraz is a big attraction for visitors in California.

Cable cars

Cable cars are a tram- like vehicle for public transport. They drive on rails and are pulled by a cable. A cable car differs from other rail transport mods in that the motive power is fixed engine that pulls the cable. The vehicle itself is usually unpowered. The cable car grips the cable. The car is stopped by letting he grip detach from the cable, and then applying brakes. Such a system is very effective for the steep streets of San Francisco. The driver of a cable car is called ‘Gripman’. Andrew Smith successfully tested the world’s first cable car on 2 nd August, 1873 at 4 o’clock in the morning..Twin Peaks They are 300 metres high. The Twin Peaks are called the ‘roof’ of San Francisco and they allow the most perfect view over city

and bay. A lot of romantic authors were inspired by the peaks in earlier times. They gave them the name ‘Los pechos de la chola’- the breasts of an Indian- girl.



city, town

bus, ship

map, street


left, right



To take a left or to turn left

To take a right or to turn right

To go straight, to follow the road



New York City
- most populous city in the United States (population of over 8 million people within 309 square miles (800 km²) + metropolitan area 22 million people)

- five boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten Island

- nickname: Big Apple

- most famous skyline

- cosmopolitan: large populations of immigrants from over 180 countries

- ethnic/racial neighborhoods include Harlem, Little Italy, Chinatown

- also many multi-ethnic neighborhoods (“Melting Pot”)

- get around via Subway (6 in 10 residents go to work via public transportation) or cab or bus

- most streets and avenues in Manhattan numbered (avenues run north-south, streets run east-west)

- many sights and attractions: e.g. Empire State Building, Times Square (theater district), the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Chrysler Building, Flatiron Building, Ellis Island, Wall Street, United Nations Headquarters, St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Brooklyn Bridge

- World Trade Center (destroyed on 9/11, still many visitors)

- huge recreation area: Central Park (843 acres or 3.4 km², 50 blocks)

- Fifth Avenue (famous shopping corridor for luxury items)

- many famous and interesting museums, e.g. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim Museum


  1. Read the information given here and on the sheets. Present the city to the group, make sure you mention the most important things.

  2. As the street structure of Manhattan is very simple, we would like you to practice giving directions (→ elementary school). Which terms are used to ask your way to a certain place/ sight (polite questions: “Excuse me, sir, could you…”) and what do you answer? What kind of vocabulary should the children learn?

If you want to you can use the city map (carefully) in order to give a specific example.

Washington D.C.
- D.C.= District of Columbia

- capital of USA since 1800

- named after George Washington (1st president)

- population about 570,000, metropolitan area 7.6 million

- is a federal district, does not belong to a state

- 50 of the street names are state names

- original street layout was designed by Pierre Charles L'Enfant (based on Paris)

- simple street structure: straight streets, numbered, crossing streets in alphabetical order

- no skyscrapers, because of strict height limits (should not overwhelm the city, no building should be higher than the capitol)

- four districts (Northwest, Southwest, Northeast and Southeast; capitol in between)

- most of the government agencies (e.g. FBI, Bureau of Engraving and Printing → dollar bills)

- most important landmarks: the White House (home and workplace of the president), the United States Capitol (home for the legislative branch → north wing Senate and south wing House of Representatives) and Washington Monument (large white-colored obelisk in the center of the National Mall, made of marble, granite, and sandstone, height: 555 feet or 169m)

- interesting for children: National Air and Space Museum, Museum of Natural History


  1. Read the information given here and on the sheets. Present the city to the group, make sure you mention the most important things.

  2. As the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is located in Washington D.C. (bills are printed here, coins in Philadelphia) we would like you to think about how you could introduce American money in elementary school. What is different, what kind of vocabulary should the children learn? What can you do? Don´t forget the intercultural aspect.

Information: George Washington is on the 1 Dollar bill

1 Cent → penny 5 Cents → nickel

10 Cents → dime 25 Cents → quarter

Florida is a Southern state in the United States. It is known as the Sunshine State. "Florida" is a Spanish adjective which means "flowery". It was discovered by Spanish explorers during the Easter season, which is called Pascua Florida in Spanish.

The climate of Florida is tempered somewhat by its proximity to water. Most of the state has a humid subtropical climate with the extreme tip of Florida and the Florida Keys bordering on a true tropical climate. However, Florida averages 300 days of full sunshine a year. The seasons in Florida often called "Hot and Hotter" are actually determined more by precipitation than by temperature with warm, relatively dry winters and autumns (the dry season) and hot, wet springs and especially the summers (the wet season). The Gulf stream has a moderating effect on Florida climate and although it is common for much of Florida to see a high summer temperature over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, it is not common for the mercury to go above 100 degrees Fareinheit in Florida.

While Florida's nickname is the "Sunshine State", severe weather is a common occurrence in Florida. Statewide, Florida has the highest average precipitation of any state, due in large part to afternoon thunderstorms which are common throughout most of the state from late spring until the early autumn. However, a sunny day may be interupted with a storm only to return the the regular georgeous weather. These thunderstorms, which are caused by airflow from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean colliding over the peninsula, seemingly "pop up" in the early afternoon and can often bring heavy downpours, high winds and sometimes tornadoes. Florida has more lightning strikes than any other state and also leads the nation in tornadoes per square mile, although the tornadoes in Florida do not get as large as those in the Midwest or Great Plains. Hail is not an uncommon occurrence in some of the more severe thunderstorms. But most of the time, weather in the sunshine state is outstanding.

Hurricanes pose a threat during the summer and fall. Florida saw a slew of destruction in 2004 when it was hit by a record four hurricanes. Hurricanes Charley (August 13), Frances (September 4-5), Ivan (September 16), and Jeanne (September 25-26) cumulatively cost forty-two billion dollars to the state. Florida was also the site of the most costly single weather disaster in U.S. history, Hurricane Andrew, which cost twenty-five billion dollars when it struck on August 12, 1992.

Florida's economy is heavily based on tourism. Warm weather most of the year and hundreds of miles of beach provide a thriving vacation spot for travelers from around the world. The large Walt Disney World Resort with four theme parks and over twenty hotels plus countless water parks, shopping centres and other facilities, located in Lake Buena Vista drives the economy of that area, along with more recent entries into the theme park arena such as the Universal Orlando Resort. The great amount of sales tax revenue is what allows the state to be one of the few to not levy a personal income tax. Other major industries include citrus fruit and juice production, banking, and phosphate mining. With the arrival of the space program at Kennedy Space Center in the 1960s, Florida has attracted a large number of aerospace and military industries to the state.

Cities and places of interest:

Orlando: total population of approximately199,000 (metropolitan area nearly 1.8 million); best known for the tourist attractions in the area, particularly the nearby Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World (→ interesting for children); film industry, supplemented by the presence of Universal Studios and Disney-MGM Studios; high tech research due to Orlando's proximity to the NASA Kennedy Space Center

Miami: total population of approximately 383,000 (metro area about 4.5 million); popular television program Miami Vice, which dealt with counter-narcotics agents in an idyllic upper-class rendition of Miami, spread the city's image as America's most glamorous tropical paradise. This image began to draw the entertainment industry to Miami, and the city remains a hub of fashion, filmmaking, and music; Miami doesn’t have too many attractions to offer, but from here you can start a tour to the:

Everglades: subtropical marshland located in the southern part of Florida; called “River of Grass” (Douglas, 1947) because of the slow flow of water from Lake Okeechobee southward and the predominance of a sedge (=Riedgras) known as sawgrass; slighty elevated points in this extremely flat area are covered with trees, usually cypress; 50% of the original Everglades has been lost to agriculture, most of the rest is now protected in a national park, national wildlife refuge and water conservation areas, water from the Everglades is still used as a water supply for major cities in the area, such as Miami; Anhinga trail allows very close approach to birds such as herons (=Fischreiher) and anhinga (= Amerikanischer Schlangenhalsvogel); there are also pelicans, crocodiles and alligators

Florida Keys/ Key West: archipelago or cluster of islands in the extreme southeast of the United States; the Keys extend from the southeastern Florida peninsula near Miami, run south and then curve west to Key West (southernmost town of USA except Hawaii, 145km to Cuba); to get to Key West you have to use the Overseas Highway including many huge bridges; laid-back atmosphere, life is easygoing, with the major industries being tourism and fishing

- Sunshine State (300 days of full sunshine per year)

- many beaches (Gulf of Mexico as its western border, Atlantic Ocean as its eastern border)

- therefore many tourists and home of many senior citizens

- sometimes severe weather (heavy afternoon thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornados)

- capital: Tallahassee

- major cities and places of interest:

Miami (population of approximately 383,000, metro area about 4.5 million; not too much to look at, except beaches)

Orlando (population of approximately199,000, metropolitan area nearly 1.8 million; Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, NASA Kennedy Space Center → interesting for children)

Everglades (subtropical marshland; called “River of Grass” (Douglas, 1947) because of the slow flow of water (wide river: 60km); national park, national wildlife refuge and water conservation areas; animals: rare birds, crocodiles and alligators)

Florida Keys/ Key West (cluster of islands in the south of Florida; Key West is the southernmost town of USA except for Hawaii; in order to get there you have to take the Overseas Highway including many huge bridges; laid-back atmosphere; tourism and fishing are the major industries)


  1. Read the information on Florida and present the state to the group.

  2. In Florida, there are many different types of weather (sometimes it even snows). How could you introduce the topic ‘weather’ in elementary school? What kind of vocabulary should the children learn?

















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