This is just amazing. The Women's Building's MaestraPeace Mural was the collaborative effort of seven artists and is a tribute to the wisdom, nurturing and healing powers of women throughout the world. Appropriately enough, it covers a community center that provides a diverse range of non-profit services for the women and girls of the San Francisco area.
The center provides a guide that highlights the symbolism and images of notable women incorporated into the work. You can also purchase T-shirts, postcards and other mural-related items at the reception area: better than cheap, dime-a-dozen tchotchkes of cable cars and a great way to support a worthy cause.
This is also a good place to make a potty stop during your exploration of the Mission district.
Additional note: visit the murals in Clarion Alley while in the area - it's just a couple of blocks east.
Mission district is one of the oldest in the city, occupied by Spanish speaking people and students that prefer an alternative way of life, I guess the rents are cheaper here too. For the visitor it’s a good area to walk around, with many cafes and several restaurant with cheap food. The name of the area comes from the Mission Dolores, the oldest building in San Francisco (see next tip).
After the Mission Dolores we walked to Mission Dolores Park(pic 1) , once a cemetery for the jews but now full of people that do sunbath or play weird games (pic 2). Although we enjoyed our walk through the park it was full of mud in many areas. What we liked most at Mission (except the cafes) were the beautiful graffiti and murals in many walls (pic 3), showing scenes from daily life but also important montents of American history or just surreal paintings. I didn’t like some buildings like the Mission Bank though (pic 4), the architecture was incompatible :)
Nothing beats a warm sunny day in San Francisco's Dolores Park. Once my boyfriend asked me "what is the L.A. equivalent of Dolores Park?" I thought for a few minutes, hmmm'd and haww'd and replied "Nothing!"
This city park covers a few blocks on the western edge of the Mission District. On a nice day you'll find everyone from families with their dogs playing fetch, punkero rock bands playing a live set, hipsters drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon with their three-legged dogs checking each other out, hippies playing hacky sack and smoking weed and some guy trying to sell you pot truffles in 6 different flavors. In other words, everyone comes here to hang out, eat a snack from nearby Bi-Rite Market & Creamery, and just enjoy the day.
Climb to the top corner of the park and you've got one of the most beautiful views of the city. I don't know of another park quite like it - just come and hang out and see for yourself!
Viva La Raza! (nope I don't speak spanish, we filipinos are the only former spanish colony that spain did not teach the spanish language!). Whether you're looking to take in the newer, locally-owned stores and cafes or get a taste of the neighborhood's history and Latin culture, the area is crawling with things to see and do. Gentrification of Mission District Started in the 90's hence the area is now more cosmopolitan. 24th Street area is the culturally rich heart of the Mission, the stretch from Dolores Street through to Valencia Street is young and upscale, the area around 16th and Valencia streets hops with nightlife and the industrial area near Bryant Street has some hip, trendy restaurants.
The mission is located in the aptly named Mission District, with Mission Street, Valenica Street, 16th and 24th Streets being some of the main thoroughfares. This neighborhood has long been a destination for Mexican and Central American immigrants and has one of the highest Latino population densities in the city. It's wide, often tree-lined streets are filled with a mix of older Hispanic shops, restaurants and run down flophouses, nearby gentrified Victorian mansions, modern apartments, book shops, trendier cafes, and nightlife.
The big draws for tourists in this area are Mission Dolores and the Mission Basilica, Dolores Park, and the annual Carnival Festival in May. Locals seems to enjoy the mural-lined alleys, wide array of cheap taquerias, and some of the nightlife opportunities not found in other areas of San Francisco.
The Mission District can be reached on the BART at either 16th and Mission Station or 24th and Mission Station, which kind of book end this neighborhood. The Mission, Park, and the murals of Clarion Alley are near the 16th Street Station between between Valencia and Mission Streets while Balmy Alley's murals are between 24th Street and 25th Street near Folsom Street.
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.
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...
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.
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).
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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