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Long before the city was conceived, San Fransokyo initially was a spot of land in California where Japanese immigrants flocked to in the late 1800s. But history was changed when the 1906 earthquake struck the land and caused unspeakable devastation. What many did not know was that the earthquake was caused by none other than the renowned artist Lenore Shimamoto. Shimamoto was finishing an ambitious project—an energy amplifier—she created as a revolutionary power source, but the effects yielded a massive star that created the disaster known as the "Great Catastrophe". Filled with guilt, Shimamoto hid her work away praying that no one would find it and continue her research. The events of the earthquake, ironically, inspired the city to be reborn, for San Francisco was rebuilt by Japanese immigrants using techniques that allowed movement and flexibility in a seismic event. After the city was finished being rebuilt, it was renamed San Fransokyo due to it being a city made greater than it was before from Japanese and American architecture combined.
The modern-day San Fransokyo is a center for vast cultures besides the dominant Eastern and Western themes, being something of a melting pot. Among some of the city's most famous residents is Big Hero 6, a group of high-tech superheroes that regularly protect San Fransokyo from turmoil of all kinds. The team first appeared to stop an attack on Krei Tech, and in doing so garnered widespread media attention. However, there has been a presence of superheroes and villains as far back as the 1970s.
The layout of the city is a high-tech hybrid of artistic and technological architecture and a fusion of both San Francisco, California and Tokyo, Japan. Built on the coast of the Pacific Ocean (presumably in California), the city is designed to withstand the risk of further earthquakes. Animators added an extra spin to the Painted Lady houses of San Francisco by adding Japanese touches to them, such as the Japanese like roof tops, koinoibori flags, Japanese lanterns, signature cats etc.
San Fransokyo prides itself for its extensive focus on science and innovation. Esteemed universities such as the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, are responsible for grooming some of the most significant figures in the scientific field, such as Alistair Krei. In fact, a large quantity of the buildings and technology in the city were constructed by Alistair and his company Krei Tech. Art has also been an important part of the city's culture as far back as the early 19th century, especially the work of Lenore Shimamoto.
Conversely, behind San Fransokyo's bright aesthetic is the underworld of illegal bot-fighting, mercenaries, and crime syndicates—commonly based in the dark, grungy alleys of the city.
Yokai's Warehouse: The secluded, ominous lair of the masked villain, Yokai.
Trading Post: An area near the bay of San Fransokyo.
Good Luck Alley: A dark alley notorious for homing San Fransokyo's criminals, such as Mr. Yama. It is named after the minimal chances of people getting out of the alley, alive.
Golden Gate Bridge: Based on San Francisco's landmark, the design of this Golden Gate Bridge is a hybrid of the original bridge and Japan's spirit bridges.
Comic Book Shop:Richardson Mole's local shop that specializes in comic books and paraphernalia. It hosts an underground arcade called The Mole Hole.
Noodle Burger: A popular fast food restaurant that Fred frequents.
San Fransokyo Museum of Art: A museum hosting predominantly Japanese artwork.
San Fransokyo Police Station: Headquarters of San Fransokyo's police force.
Go Go's Apartment: Located in a sketchy neighborhood, Go Go lives in a red bricked three floor apartment building. Honey Lemon moved in with Go Go after she accidentally froze her own apartment with an experimental formula for instant ice (and her roommate Regina). Honey Lemon stayed in Go Go's apartment for several months and when she could finally move back into her own, she chose to stay after Go Go confessed she did not want her to leave.
San Fransokyo Art Institute: An educational art institution, which has a rivalry with SFIT. It was founded by Lenore Shimamoto.
Muirahara Woods: Located outside city limits, Muirahara Woods is a national park that homes various species of wildlife.
The name and layout of the city is a mix between real-life cities San Francisco, California and Tokyo, Japan.
Some promotional posters have featured the city's newspaper San Fransokyo Times with the date 2150 on it, suggesting that the city and the film is set near the year 2150. Other background elements in the film, such as a banner for the 95th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, would suggest that the film takes place around 2032. Despite these futuristic elements, San Fransokyo still possesses a fair amount of modern-looking vehicles, technology and structures.
In Zootopia, Chief Bogo's office has a wall calendar with a picture of San Fransokyo.
Japantown in San Francisco served as a major inspiration for the artists designing San Fransokyo.
Due to sharing the Arendellian ship, and statue of a frozen villain Prince Hans, it's possible that Big Hero 6 takes place into the futuristic version of Frozen world.