The City of South San Francisco occupies the basin and portions of the sides of a broad valley formed by the San Bruno Mountains on the north and the Coast Range on the west. Most of the valley faces adjacent San Francisco Bay, affording sweeping vistas, from higher levels and a definite sense of identification with the Bay. South San Francisco has mild winters and dry cool summers. The hills to the west shield the city from much of the fog that prevails in neighboring areas. South San Francisco celebrated its 100th birthday in 2008.
The town of South San Francisco emerged from a portion of the old Rancho Buri Buri, which was provisionally granted by the Mexican Government to Jose Antonio Sanchez in 1827. Charles Lux bought 1,464 acres of Buri Buri land and became a partner of Henry Miller, thus forming the firm of Miller and Lux, Pacific Coast land barons and cattle kings. It was on this property that Charles Lux built his family a beautiful country home. Through his heirs, the Lux Ranch was sold to Peter Iler and became the site of the thriving industrial city.
The site for South San Francisco was selected by G.F. Swift and purchased by Peter Iler of Omaha in 1890 for the establishment of stock- yards and a market place for cattle produced in the area similar to the stockyards in South Omaha. Needing money, they became allied with some Chicago capitalists and formed two joint stock corporations, one named South San Francisco Land and Improvement Company, while the other corporate body was known as Western Meat Company. South San Francisco, "The Industrial City" was incorporated on September 19, 1908. The name for South San Francisco followed the pattern planned by G.F. Swift, whose company had taken over the Western Meat Company, as his other plants were "South Chicago" and "South Omaha".
Other industries followed during the years and the two world wars brought, temporarily, to the waterfront, a considerable shipbuilding industry. Since World War II, South San Francisco has become a well-balanced community of industrial and residential areas. Approximately 2,250 acres of land are now devoted to manufacturing, wholesaling, transportation facilities and utilities.
Population has tripled since the World War II with the opening of such subdivisions as Buri Buri, Winston Manor and Westborough on the slopes west of El Camino. It has grown from 4,411 in 1920 to 60,552 in 2000.
South San Francisco offers its citizens a city in which to live comfortably in fine residential areas; a place of recreation in parks, swimming pools, and marina; a place to work in more than 3,200 firms and businesses.