It is perhaps well-known that natives of San Francisco are very particular about their city’s appellation. There is the abhorrent Frisco and the marginally-better-but-still-hateful San Fran. The longer San Francisco and initialism SF are just around okay. The preferred term is, of course, the City.
I personally find the first two listed nicknames rather bad-sounding, though likely due to being informed of their taboo status before having moved up to the area. I stick to SF or San Francisco. I have only once ever said the City to refer specifically to San Francisco, and it was completely by accident (I swear). Otherwise, I actually find the use rather, shall we say, pretentious. This makes reading the SF Examiner (a daily free newspaper) rather annoying, as they seem to have a policy of always referring to San Francisco as The City. The only exceptions I’ve seen are names that include “San Francisco,” as in San Francisco Fire Department. Some examples from recent articles:
… during a March 30 meeting as part of an ongoing effort to tackle one of The City’s biggest quality-of-life issues. (link) “We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress,” Newsom said in April about The City’s efforts to address the problem. (same) The City removed the former coin and parking-pass operated meters in the busy tourist district and installed four new meters for the entire block. (link)
In all or most cases, you could just replace “The City” with “San Francisco” and get a perfectly fine sentence. You could also just put it in lowercase and get a similarly fine sentence. But it would be surprising if you never got anything strange from this policy. For one thing, it’s not just typographic, it indicates a particular linguistic choice, namely using the city to refer to San Francisco in particular. And it no doubt functions as a geographic and sociolinguistic index (“I’m from the SF Bay Area and I love San Francisco!” or something like that). This means that there are nontrivial consequences for using “The City” within direct quotation: Read more »