Located at 3321 16th Street, we stumbled across this by accident as we made a long trek through the Mission, up through the Castro and into the Haight via two peaks in city parks. Though the pictured Basilica dates back only to 1913, the adjoining mission with four foot thick adobe walls was built in 1782 and is the oldest building in San Francisco.
On 18th Street at La Pidge, between Valencia and Guerrero Streets, the Non-Profit Women's organization has a large building with an extraordinary series of exterior murals devoted to women. The vivid colors and big style of the artwork are Mexican, reminiscent of a Diego Rivera style mural, and the building itself, nearly a century old, is also of some architectural interest. See the link below for more information about the purpose and history of the women's organization.
One of the most interesting aspects of the Mission District is the plethora of murals that cover buildings, walls, fences, garage doors, and other vertical structures of streets and alleys. The area was heavily settled by Latinos in the 1960s, and the Chicano Art Mural Movement of the 1970s began the murals that were often based on traditional Mexican paintings. Some of the the original murals and a wide variety of more modern murals are found on 24th Street, Balmy Alley, and Clarion Alley. San Francisco as a whole claims some 600 murals with the majority in the Mission District.
The Balmy Alley mural project began in 1971, and many of the original Mission District murals created by a group called Mujeres Muralistas are located here. In the 1980s a group of muralists called Placa created murals in Balmy Alley against the US government actions in Central America. Today Balmey Alley has over 30 murals.
Precita Eyes is a group of local artists that painted some of the murals; they give tours of some of the murals.
During our visit, we swung through Clarion Alley, and spent 10-15 minutes here admiring the murals. We saw the big Carnival Mural on Harrison Street, then we passed by Balmy Alley, but didn't spend much time here.
Just down the street maybe two blocks from Mission Dolores is Mission Dolores Park. This 13.7 acre park marks the boundary between the Mission District and the Castro. Dolores Park has six tennis courts, a basketball court, two soccer fields, a children's playground, a run-down restroom facility covered in graffiti, and the whole thing seems to be a giant dog play area. The park also has a statue of Mexican liberator Miguel Hidalgo, and the replica of the historic Mexican "liberty bell."
In 1861 this land, which was once part of the Mission Dolores lands, was purchased and converted into a Jewish cemetery. This remained only until 1894 when it was moved to Colma (known as the City of the Dead due to the huge numbers of cemeteries that moved here from San Francisco). In 1905 the city of San Francisco purchased the land, which soon became a refugee camp for survivors of the 1906 earthquake.
During our visit, wandered down from Mission Dolores and up the central walking path past the bell, the statue of Hidalgo, and we enjoyed the views of the city. Despite some reports on Wikipeda and other sources the views of the Bay Bridge are not currently blocked by any new new structures. Also while we we there, we watched a massive group of thousands of Hells Angels cruising past on Dolores Street for a funeral for a deceased comrade.
This graveyard was featured in Alfred Hichcock's movie Vertigo. Located next to the oldest buildning in San Francisco. Walk around the grounds and admire the old graves dating back to 1785.
Located at Dolores and 16th Street
When walking in Mission district, I just discovered (by chance) the heart of this company producing the famous jeans...
Funded in the 1860's, the company moved to Valencia street following the 1906 earthquake.
Mision San Francisco de Asis, which is known as Mission Dolores, dates back to 1791, but the site it sits on is where the first mass was held in the first European settlement in San Francisco in 1776. This beautiful little white church is well worth getting off the beaten trail for, even if it is only to stand outside and contemplate the history that surrounds it. Unfortunately, on the day I visited I was too late and it had closed. I managed to take a picture or two in the fading light before trudging off a little annoyed that I hadn't timed my visit well. The Mission district is quite easy to get to. You can get the Metro subway to the Church Street station and walk south down that street to 16th Street. Turn left there and walk to the intersection of Dolores Street. Look out for the slightly over-the-top basilica next to the old church itself.
Okay, so it's far from off the beaten path but.... A less talked about gem of SF lies in the Mission district, in the wonderful latin flavor of Valencia Street. The area around Mission and Valencia Streets have lots of great shops and restaurants, and offer a different type of San Francisco.
Restaurants on Mission St. (16th-24th) + Valencia St(22nd-30th). Rough estimates of the busier areas, but there are plently ethnic cuisines to be had there. Not the nicest area, but there's lots of variety.
Who would have known that the world's largest rubber band ball was located in a liquor store at the corner of Guerrero and 22nd Street?