Jul 27, 2023 - Culture

Singer Tony Bennett's love letter to San Francisco

Black-and-white photo of Tony Bennett riding a cable car in San Francisco with Dianne Feinstein

Singer Tony Bennett rides a cable car with Dianne Feinstein, then the mayor of San Francisco, on June 21, 1984. Photo: Frederic Larson/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Tributes are pouring in after the death of singer Tony Bennett, who is most known for the iconic song "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."

  • The jazz song, released in 1962, tells the story of nostalgia for San Francisco and its famous cable cars, which celebrate their 150th anniversary this year.

How it happened: Though he was a New York City native, Bennett often visited San Francisco and usually performed the song during his appearances at the Fairmont Hotel's Venetian Room.

I'm going home to my city by the Bay I left my heart in San Francisco High on a hill, it calls to me To be where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars
The morning fog may chill the air, I don't care My love waits there in San Francisco Above the blue and windy sea When I come home to you, San Francisco Your golden sun will shine for me
ā€” Lyrics from "I Left My Heart in San Francisco"
  • Bennett was also part of the festivities in 1973 when the cable cars celebrated their centennial and again later in the 1980s following several renovations.
  • On April 25, 2020, Bennett led a worldwide sing-along of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" in a show of support for frontline workers in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo of a violinist standing next to a statue of Tony Bennett on a grassy lawn
Violinist Rose Crelli performs "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" to honor Tony Bennett at a gathering by his statue on July 21. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The big picture: The city and county of San Francisco adopted the song as an official anthem in 1984.

  • It's also played every time the Giants win a home game at Oracle Park.
  • A statue of Bennett was erected in front of the Venetian Room in 2016. The street where it's located was also renamed "Tony Bennett Way."

What to watch: The city could soon name a cable car after Bennett.


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