It’s easy to walk past Clarion Alley without even noticing it. Despite that, this hidden alley in San Francisco has become one of the most photographed spots in the city due to its colorful murals. I almost missed it myself on my way to brunch in the Mission neighborhood but I made sure to go back afterwards and take a photo walk down this alley whose vibrant colors stood out on an otherwise gloomy day.
The Clarion Alley Mural Project was first created in 1992 by a group of six artists who resided in the Mission neighborhood. Countless artists have had their murals displayed in the alley and the artwork is always changing. Every October, to mark another anniversary of the project, new art is put up for all to enjoy. Artists come from all different backgrounds and their work can focus on political and social issues or simply evoke happy or somber emotions.
The Mission neighborhood has evolved so much over the last 20 years from an area of San Francisco that was avoided to one that is now filled with trendy restaurants and shops. Clarion Alley no doubt attracts more locals and visitors alike than it used to but the goal of the project has remained the same from its inception which is to foster social inclusiveness. In a city as diverse as San Francisco, this goal is so fitting. If you’d like to see a list of the artists that have been featured in the alley, you can view it here.
Clarion Alley is located off of Valencia Street between 17th and 18th streets. The closest Bart station is the 16th Street Station and there are so many places to eat around the neighborhood. There are too many to suggest, but just a few of my favorites are Foreign Cinema, Craftsman & Wolves, and Dandelion Chocolate. If you can’t get yourself to the neighborhood just yet, here are some photos from my trip down Clarion Alley.