San Francisco has over 1,000 street murals, and more than half of these are in the neighborhood of Mission District. You’ll find them on walls, garage doors, fences, and other structures, adorning buildings, churches, parks, and streets.
The murals come in various styles and themes, from political and historical to simply fun. Exploring them is best done on foot. And with their sheer number, make sure to set aside plenty of time to see as many of these art pieces as you can.
These are the best places to go to start your tour:
Between 24th and 25th Streets
Balmy Alley is where it all started. The first mural here was created in 1972 by resident Maria Galvez and several children from a nearby child care center. This was followed by the works of the Mujeres Muralistas, a group of female artists who focused on feminine and socio-political themes. Later murals depict the struggles of Central American countries against human rights abuses and political corruption. The most recent artworks touch on issues like gentrification and other political and social issues.
Between Mission and Valencia Streets
Clarion Alley is one of the top destinations for murals in Mission District. More than 500 artists have contributed over 700 murals to the area, and you’ll find a wide array of artistic styles. The murals’ themes are focused on the economic, social, and political issues faced by the community, as well as universal environmental issues.
The Women’s Building
3543 18th Street
The internationally recognized MaestraPeace Mural covers two of the walls of The Women’s Building, and depicts the contributions of women from around the world. It includes a calligraphy of the names of over 600 women interspersed throughout the artwork. The mural was created in 1994 and was a collaboration of seven female artists who are also regarded as among the best muralists of San Francisco.
Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitor Center
2981 24th Street
Founded around 40 years ago, Precita Eyes is a community based non-profit committed to “enriching communities through collaborative murals that celebrate culture, unity, history and nature.” The organization is behind a number of murals found in different locations across San Francisco. Its Visitor Center is a virtual gallery of murals created by local artists, depicting social, political, and economic issues confronting the community.
The Carnaval Mural at the House of Brakes
24th and South Van Ness Streets
Above the House of Brakes is the Carnaval Mural, a 24 feet by 75 feet artwork celebrating the first San Francisco Carnaval event, which took place in 1979. The mural was created in 1983 based on photographs taken at event, and depicts the high energy and revelry of the occasion. It’s considered one of the best examples of mural realism.
Between Valencia and Mission Streets
While not as popular as nearby Clarion Alley, Caledonia Alley boasts its own street art gems, including the works of some of the city’s top muralists. Unlike in other parts of Mission District, the murals in Caledonia Alley are mostly gritty graffiti art, with subtler depictions of political and social issues.
Along with its vibrant culture and economy, Mission District is also home to some of the best apartments in San Francisco. Learn more about your investment and rental opportunities here. Call Ray Amouzandeh at 415.494.7009 or email SFHomez(at)gmail(dotted)com.