Get your helmets on and take a bike ride through these vibrant alleys
If you do one mural tour (self-guided), make it the Mission District one. It’s home to the highest concentration of murals in San Francisco, with work reflecting the socio-cultural landscape during the 1930s and 1970s. It all started with the Works Progress Administration projects and soon grew into an uprising of graffiti artists that began covering the neighborhood walls with comic-style pieces. Later, groups like Las Mujeres Muralistas started a movement that illuminated the streets with vivid paintings telling stories of womanhood, culture and social growth. [Main Photo: @accionLatinasf via Instagram]
So pick up your bike–or rent one from Mission Bicycle and let the tour begin!
An overview (tap each pin for details)
First stop: 16th & Mission
As you exit the station turn and look up. You’ll see a tiled mural “Future Roads” by Daniel Galvez and Jos Sances, located over the stairway. The frieze depicts the elaborate roads connecting the Roman Empire in the same way Barts connects different parts of the Bay Area. Imposed over the frieze are modern-day photographs of ordinary citizens from all walks of life.
Then, turn your attention to the metal works of Victor Mario Zaballa. The decorative railings and artboards portray Hummingbirds–the hardworking species that migrate between Mexico and the US.
Second stop: Clarion Alley
Clarion Alley began as a response to the Balmy Alley murals that came about in the 70s, which were created as a reaction to the abuse of political and human rights at the time. Unlike Balmy Alley, however, the themes and aesthetics here are only bound by one goal: inclusivity and diversity. There are over 700 murals created by the Clarion Alley Mural Project (CAMP), an artist collective established in 1992.
Third Stop: The Women’s Building
The Women’s Building is the most notable in the whole of San Francisco. The incredible MaestraPeace came from top muralists; Juana Alicia, Miranda Bergman, Edythe Boone, Susan Kelk Cervantes, Meera Desai, Yvonne Littleton and Irene Perez. It spans the entire face of the beautiful four-story building acting as a true testament to the power and creativity of diverse women.
Pit Stop: La Taqueria
Head to your next stop and hop one street over to pick up a classic taco or burrito from the city’s most famous taco spot, La Taqueria. If you’re more of a sweet tooth La Mejor Baker is also on the way or you can deviate from the Mexican theme for a bit at Tartine.
Fourth Stop: Mission Pool and Playground Mural
Don’t miss The New World Tree mural by Juana Alicia. The piece depicts a traditional Mexican ceramic tree of life filled with birds, animals, Adam, Eve and all their children according to the artist’s website.
Fith Stop: Lilac Alley
There are so many great murals lining this alley, including the “Virgencita Plis” and other works done for Black History Month.
Second Last Stop: Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center
The centre is home to many of the murals artists, organizing works all over the city. But, the center itself deserves a visit, the beautiful mosaic in the entrance alone is worth the stop.
Last Stop: La Llorona
Another masterpiece by Juana Alicia, illustrating “The Weeping Woman” from Latin American Folklore. The legend states that a woman felt her husband’s love was consumed by their two sons and as a result, she drowned them and then herself.