Clarion Alley – San Francisco, California - Atlas Obscura
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San Francisco, California

Clarion Alley

This one-block alleyway is stuffed with street art that is colorful, cultural, and intensely political.  

San Francisco’s Mission district is a hotspot for street art. Much of it focuses on the Mission’s Latino immigrant history. But in Clarion Alley, the murals take on a decidedly political tone. 

Clarion Alley was established as a street art destination in 1992. It’s a short, one-block gauntlet of aerosol running between Mission and Valencia Streets. The murals are painted on the concrete and wooden fencing bordering the homes there. Some of the murals are coordinated by the Clarion Alley Mural project, which has a mission to support social inclusiveness and aesthetic variety.

The alley is a very local thing and the artists who paint there are from San Francisco. A street artist will “own” a patch of fence where they can paint whatever they wish. If they want to hold onto their patch for the long term, they are asked to maintain their work. Alternatively, they can give their patch to a new artist for a fresh perspective. This means that while some pieces stay in the alley for the long term, there is a great deal of turnover in design style and messaging. There is always something fresh and edgy in Clarion Alley and it’s worth visiting multiple times if you find yourself in San Francisco regularly. 

Know Before You Go

Clarion Alley is a one-block alleyway between Mission Street and Valencia Street and 17th and 18th Street in San Francisco's Mission district.

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