Slate has a great piece explaining how San Francisco came to become America's most well-known liberal haven. It's well-worth a click and the time to read it, but in short you can thank sailors, booze, gays and World War II soldiers for creating the city that's most often cited by Republicans as the epicenter for progressive politics. San Francisco first became known as a party town during Prohibition thanks to the city's lax enforcement of the ban on alcohol. At the end of WWII, tens of thousands of young soldiers landed in San Francisco after being released from the armed forces and many of them stayed. They joined a growing number of gays, blacks, and other groups of people pushed to the margins of society who were attracted to the community developing in the Bay Area.
Click over to Slate and give the whole piece a read.
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