See the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the song here:
Historical facts from a friend:
This international romantic favorite was written [originally as “When I Return to San Francisco”] by gay couple and WWII veterans George Cory and Douglass Cross who missed The City after moving to New York.
Cross had been raised across the bay in Oakland, and once sang in the San Francisco Opera Chorus. Cory grew up in San Francisco and Mill Valley, and studied music at UC Berkeley. They moved back to California in 1966, building a home in Lake County with their composer royalties, and were present in 1969, a few months after Stonewall, when the San Francisco Board of Supervisors made their creation The City’s official song.
Cross told the supervisors and spectators: "This is a very proud moment for George Cory and me. If our song is success, it is because it reflects in some small measure, perhaps, the history, the legend, the magic of this beautiful city that has fascinated the imagination of the world."
It is also played after every home victory at the SF Giants' AT&T ballpark at China Basin—exactly 573 times, so far. "
Cross died of a heart attack in 1975, and Cory, apparently still mourning his partner of over two-decades, committed suicide a few years later after having finally returned to San Francisco where he bought a house on Pleasant Street on Nob Hill.
The three-storey building still stands near the Fairmont Hotel where Bennett first sang the couple’s love song, and repeated it last night in a $5000-a-person benefit for broken hearts of another kind being studied by UCSF's Division of Cardiology, and
near where “little cable cars still climb 'halfway to the stars.” (and come down again.)