Mission District, San Francisco

4 out of 5 stars 4 Stars - 51 Reviews

Area surrounding Valencia and 16th Street

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  • Ewingjr98's Profile Photo

    Mission Dolores and the Basilica

    by Ewingjr98 Updated May 27, 2008

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    The mission chapel (right) and the basilica (left)
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    Mission Dolores, originally Mission San Francisco de Asís, was founded in 1776 and the chapel completed in 1791 is the oldest structure in San Francisco. The 6th of Spain's 21 California missions, Dolores is the only mission still boasting its original chapel fully intact. The mission gardens have been restored to the 1791 period including an Indian garden and rose garden. Some 5,000 Native Americans are buried in the cemetery, one of the few cemeteries remaining in the city limits.

    Next to the mission is the huge Mission Dolores Basilica, completed in 1919 after a previous church on the site was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake. Church services are held in the Mission Dolores Chapel and the Basilica. The mission is open daily 9:00pm - 4:00pm, seven days a week and can be toured for a donation of $5.

    The tour starts at the gift shops, enters the old mission chapel, passes an antique diorama of the mission in its former glory, then enters the basilica. Next you you go back outside, pass some old photographs of the mission, then enter the small museum. After the museum is a nice fountain and some restrooms, then the cemetery and back to the gift shop to finish your tour. The entire tour takes 30 minutes to an hour, and is worth it just for the beauty of the architecture, even if the mission history doesn't especially interest you.

    A short scene from the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock movie Vertigo was filmed here. Other scenes from the movie include Fort Point, the Legion of Honor, Mission San Juan Bautista, and even Cypress Point in Pebble Beach.

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  • Karnubawax's Profile Photo

    Mission District

    by Karnubawax Updated Dec 14, 2007

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    The Mission District is a great place to spend and afternoon eating and shopping. Despite some gentrification, the Mission is still very much the City's Hispanic epicenter. Mission Street in particular will remind you very much of a Mexican Main Street.

    The Mission proper is a very large area, but the "hipster" or "tourist" Mission - containing lots of thrift stores, burrito joints, and cafes, is the area between 16th and 19th Streets up and down, and Dolores and Mission left to right. This is part of what some maps call the Inner Mission. The Outer Mission is not as hip, but still has some great restaurants, particularly along 24th Street near Potrero.

    My favorite thing to do in the mission is to walk down Mission or Valencia streets and poke around the incredibly tacky Mexican and Chinese junk shops. Mission is especially good for CHEAP luggage, shoes, clothes, whatever. If you're on a budget, do your shopping here!

    The Mission is, for the most part, a relatively safe neighborhood. Not always, though.

    One area to be wary around is the BART station at 16th & Mission. The plaza here is always crowded with bums, drug dealers and junkies. The good news is that it rapidly gets better as you move south towards 17th Street, or west towards Valencia. What you DON'T want to do is go east. First, you'll hit notorious Capp St. If you want to have fun with a San Franciscan, tell them your hotel is on Capp St. and watch what kind of reaction you get! Capp St. is well known for its junkie prostitutes, and if you see the hookers here you'll swear off sex for good! South Van Ness from around 16th to 24th is only marginally better, and is also a well known gang hangout. Definitely avoid these streets at night.

    The Mission can be dirty, gritty, and occasionally dangerous, but it's worth checking out. Just stick to the main streets and shopping areas and practice your street smarts and you'll be fine. And full.

    Check out my photos series of abandoned movie theaters...

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  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo

    The Basilica at Mision San Francisco de Asis

    by VeronicaG Updated Aug 25, 2007

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    The Basilica
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    The Basilica sits next to the Mission San Francisco de Asis and was constructed in 1918. It's gleaming white topped with two ornate towers.

    This Basilica replaced an earlier church which was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. It was officially designated a basilica by Pope Pius XII in 1952.

    Some of its beautiful highlights are: a stained-glass window featuring St. Francis of Assisi--patron to the Mission and San Francisco, a main altar detailed with a lovely sunburst pattern, intricate carvings depicting the Seven Sorrows of Mary on the side balconies and over the main door, and colorful mosaics showing the Apostles (picture 2).

    The interior of the church was very peaceful with smells of heavenly incense lingering in the air. Sunlight cast a gentle glow on the stained glass windows from behind--the upper side of windows represented angels, while those on the lower side represented the 21 California Missions (pictures 3 & 4).

    As you take the side door exit towards the mission, walk to your right and you'll see a small museum and the entrance to a little graveyard.

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  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo

    More of Mision San Francisco de Asis

    by VeronicaG Updated Aug 25, 2007

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    Rear of Mission Dolores
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    Behind the mission, is a beautiful little cemetery, which contains many old gravestones, an Indian hut and lovely rose bushes. A statue of father Junipero Serra, sculpted by Arthur Putnam (an early California artist) sits at its center.

    Originally the grave markers were just wooden crosses, which deteriorated through the years. The cemetery was much larger at that time. When the present cemetery was condensed to its current size, those bodies which were unidentified were carefully placed in a common grave. Those remaining in the cemetery are those who died decades before the GOLD RUSH days (picture 2).

    A small museum displays artifacts and lithographs of the California Missions, an original roof truss and a revolving tabernacle brought from the Phillipines. It is still used on Holy Thursday(picture 3).

    A DIORAMA showing the mission complex as it looked in 1791 was created in 1939 for the Worlds Fair on Treasure Island, San Francisco (picture 4).

    A statue honoring Father Junipero Serro, founder of the California Missions (picture 5).

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  • VeronicaG's Profile Photo

    Mission Dolores or Mision San Francisco de Asis

    by VeronicaG Updated Aug 22, 2007

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    Mision San Francisco de Asis
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    The Mision San Francisco de Asis (or Mission Dolores) was the sixth mission to be established by Father Junipero Serra--the third most northerly of the 21 California missions.

    It assumed its role as an official mission on June 29, 1776...five days before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

    The mission is remarkable for its simple beauty! Outside, the neat, whitewashed exterior reflects the brightness of the sun, while inside detailed, gold leafed altars and brilliantly painted ceiling call for close examination. A solemn and peaceful atmosphere surrounds you. This lovingly cared for House of God is one of the oldest intact missions in California.

    Congregants originally had to use an outside stairway to access the choir loft. Later, these steps allowed them to do so from the sanctuary.(picture 2)

    The decorative altar, or the reredos, came from San Blas, Mexico in 1796 (picture 3)

    The side altars, were brought to the Mission in 1810 and are also from Mexico.(picture 4)

    The ceiling is not original, but reflects the original Ohlone Indian designs done with vegetable dyes. (picture 5) The vibrant waves of color are unexpected, but appreciated!

    Hours are 9am-4:30 pm daily; a small donation is charged.

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  • Tom_Fields's Profile Photo

    San Francisco de Asis, Mission Dolores

    by Tom_Fields Updated Jan 2, 2007

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    Mission Dolores
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    This is San Francisco's oldest building. Built in 1776 by Father Junipero Serra, it was damaged in the 1906 quake, but survived. It has some fine examples of early California art. The cemetery is the final resting place of many early Californians.

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  • bjwong's Profile Photo

    Mission Dolores

    by bjwong Written Dec 3, 2006

    Established in 1776, the mission is the oldest church in San Francisco. It withstood the 1906 earthquake making it the only surviving mission out of the 21 that were originally built. If you go don't forget to check out the Cemetary Gardens in the back.

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    A Visual Feast in the Mission

    by emilesc Updated Oct 10, 2006

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    Dolores Park
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    I hadn't planned to go to the Mission this particular day, having already walked around The Castro and Noe Valley. It was a pleasant surprise that a detour down the Cumberland and Sanchez steps had taken me to the gateway of Dolores Park. I haven't had a chance to spend much time here, but both times I've been in the Mission, I've felt at home in this diverse, funky neighborhood.

    The first time I'd been to the Mission was in 2002 during Gay Pride Weekend, during which the Dyke March - open for women of all orientations to participate in and show their support - traveled from Dolores Park to 17th Street in the Mission and ended at the Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro.

    This time (2006), I walked through Dolores Park, over to Mission Dolores (already closed by the time I'd gotten there, alas), and ended my trip at Tartine.

    Can you believe how nice the architecture for the high school and middle schools are?!

    Please see my travelogue for additional photos from The Mission.

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  • MarvintheMartian's Profile Photo

    Mission Delores

    by MarvintheMartian Updated Aug 23, 2006

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    A quiet santuary

    Interesting church mission with a long history in San Francisco terms. The Cathredral to the right was built in 1907 after the original church on that sight was distroyed during the 1906 Earthquake. The small misson survived and to this day it is the oldest building in San Francisco. Founded in 1776, the first mass was 5 days before the Declaration of Independence was signed.

    The actual building on the left was completed several years later in 1791.

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  • karin1972's Profile Photo

    Great Clubs and Burritos

    by karin1972 Written Jun 15, 2005

    Throught the "Mission" one can find a variety of bars and clubs. The scene tends to be more "hip and grundgy" than areas such as the Marina or Cow Hollow. There are some great restaurants and burrito shops in the area as well.

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  • karin1972's Profile Photo

    Lots of great shopping and people watching

    by karin1972 Updated Jun 15, 2005

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    "The Haight" is a colorful area, which draws in a variety of people. You have your clothing boutiques, coffee shops, head/smoke shops, and then there is the infamous GAP on the corner--LOL. If you are squeemish about seeing multiple-piercings and homeless people, I would suggest staying away. This place is historic for the Hippey movement and has some beautiful victorian houses in the surrounding streets. For a great Middle Eastern eating experience, you may want to check out Kanzaman restaurant, offering belly dancing and hooka smoking.

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  • Andraf's Profile Photo

    Touring the Mission Dolores (II)

    by Andraf Updated Mar 18, 2005

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    Inside Mission Dolores, San Francisco

    I really enjoyed my tour of Mission Dolores. I visited on a Wednesday morning when only a few people were around, and most of the time I found myself alone during the tour. The tour starts with the small chapel, beautifully washed in yellow light. The wooden altar was hand carved in Mexico and brought to the mission in 1780. The beamed ceiling is covered in multicolored motifs which are said to resemble the local Ohlone Indian decorative patterns. On the floor of the chapel there are a few plaques marking the burial sights of prominent locals. As you exit the chapel there is a diorama of the mission as it appeared in 1799. From there you can go into the new basilica which has some beautiful panels and stained glass windows. Next you'll find the small museum which houses different religious artifacts or things found during the restorations of the chapel. Inside the museum, on the left as you enter, a section of the wall plaster is cut away to show the thick adobe bricks. The last stop of the tour is the cemetery, where many local notables from the early times of the city are buried. If you read the names on the graves you'll recognize the names of many streets in San Francisco. The cemetery also holds the remains of more than 5000 Native Americans most of whom died in the measles epidemics of 1804 and 1826. The cemetery was green and peaceful and I saw a few hummingbirds. The entrance fee is $3 and $2 more if you want the audio tour.

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    Mission Dolores (I)

    by Andraf Updated Mar 17, 2005

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    Mission Dolores, San Francisco

    Mission Dolores is San Francisco's oldest building, dating from 1791. Its formal name is Mission San Francisco de Asis but it became known as Mission Dolores from a nearby pond (long gone), La laguna de los Dolores (Lake of Our Lady of Sorrows). The small chapel was preserved almost intact, its 4 ft (1.2m) thick walls having survived two major earthquakes. When the Mexican government secularized the missions in 1834 to acquire their lands, Mission Dolores was transformed into a tavern and dance hall until finally in 1859 was reacquired by the Catholic Church and reconsecrated. Along the years the Catholic Church erected a series of larger churches alongside the old chapel to accommodate a growing congregation. The last of these, the basilica that can be seen next door was added in 1913. The facade of the basilica is highly ornated, which brings out even more the simple beauty of the mission chapel.

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  • SnoopySue's Profile Photo

    Mission Dolores

    by SnoopySue Updated Feb 25, 2005
    Mission District

    Mission Dolores is the one of the city's oldest structures. Built by Spanish settlers, it stands in the shadow of the more ornate Mission dolores Basilica. Both are located at 16th and Dolores streets.

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  • Stage Light: SF Photo Exhibit

    by stinicel Updated Jan 11, 2005

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    Stage Light

    There is photography exhibit in San Francisco at the Culture Cache Gallery in February about events in San Francisco, by 9 photographers. It is an interesting perspective on SF culture and nightlife I think anyone visiting SF should really see. The exhibit is a month long. Here some info from the site:

    Hang out in the moat with a cowboy moments before he mounts a raging bull. Enter the exclusive world of the socio-economic elite. Experience the essence of the dark Goth underworld. Chill with the pipe-hitting Hip Hop hipsters and the beat-hungry B-boys and B-girls.

    AFTER5Media.com presents “Stage Light”, an exhibit of photo-essays on entertainment culture in San Francisco. Covering venues that range from the more conventional to the completely unorthodox, the visual storytelling evokes the feeling of what it is like to actually take part in these scenes.

    “San Francisco is definitely more than what it appears. Everything here has its own character and vibe. The challenge for us is to capture this specific vibe unique to a certain event, club or venue into a beautiful image. Ultimately though, the people in our photographs are what make these events uniquely San Franciscan. Through events like Stage Light and A5 [After5Media.com] we show everyone what it’s all about,” says Warren Difranco Hsu, After Five Media’s Media Director, founder and photographer.

    Photojournalists featured at Stage Light haven’t just observed from behind their cameras; they have become part of the scene. The photo-essays show the various aspects of SF entertainment culture from an insider’s unique perspective.

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