San Francisco’s Murals

During my first walkabouts after moving to SF, I had immediately been curious about the big fresco murals painted on the walls of buildings, often touching on political subjects.

At first they made me think of graffiti from the metro tunnels in Paris. But there are so many all over the place… and certain ones are so beautiful and artistic that I might be wrong…


Here’s a bit of history: even if these “wall murals” have always been part of the Mexican community’s expression, these gigantic frescoes have become a valuable tradition in the 20th century, celebrating the history and cultural heritage of Latin America. Encouraged and financed by the Mexican government, artists such as Diego Rivera established themselves as the masters in that field.


In the 1960s, Chicanos (Mexican-Americans) inspired a new generation of muralists who continued the tradition, treating social and political subjects. This is how the movement started in the Mission District of San Francisco in the 1970s, lead by local artists and groups like the Mujeres Muralistas (their first frescoes can be seen on Balmy Alley).


The “community murals” are painted by and for the community that live in the painted place. They resemble political point of views, family values, historical events… and evoke dreams and hope of the community members.


You can easily admire all the murals walking through the streets of San Francisco (map of all murals), but if you’re interested in learning more about the local artist movement, you can go on a guided tour provided by the Mural Art and Visitor Center, 2981 24th Street, Mission District.