The Mission District is the neighborhood where San Francisco began. The Mission District is named for Mission San Francisco de Asís, which was founded in 1776. After an original location that was not favorable was abandoned, the current location was chosen for being the sunniest and most-sheltered spot on the upper portion of the peninsula. Over the decades, the mission slowly went into decline, and then the Secularization Act of 1833 by Mexico freed up most of the land that was granted to the mission. After the Gold Rush of 1849, the mission settlement was ignored by the new settlement on the bay that has now become the Financial District of San Francisco, because the Americans were engaged in trade while the Mexicans living in the old settlement were engaged in agriculture.
After the Civil War, San Francisco residents began to discover the weather-related benefits of the area that had caused the mission to come to the area almost 100 years earlier. The neighborhood was built up in the 1870s and 1880s. In the early 20th century, the neighborhood was comprised of mainly Italian and Irish immigrants, with Germans and Poles also living in the area. After World War II, Mexicans moved into the neighborhood, and the Hispanic culture of the neighborhood took root. Central and South Americans moved to the Mission District in the 1980s. At the same time, a punk and bohemian subsection bloomed. Today, the Mission District has seen some gentrification, but continues to be the neighborhood of the Hispanic community.
The most famous building in the neighborhood is Mission San Francisco de Asís.
The mission was founded on June 29, 1776, and the church was built in 1791.
The mission's reredos, or altar, dates from 1796 and was imported from San Blas, Mexico.
The altar frontis-piece and was used to hide the altar during Lent.
The Mission Dolores Basilica sits next to the old mission church, at 16th & Dolores Streets.
The basilica was built in 1918 and replaced a church on the same site that was built in 1876 and destroyed in the 1906 earthquake.
The church was named a minor basilica in 1952 by Pope Pius XII. It was the fifth basilica in the United States, and first west of the Mississippi River.
The basilica's most important day was when the Pope was hosted here on September 17, 1987.
The basilica's stained glass windows depict the California missions and their foundation date.
The windows also depict the saints that they were named after, in addition to showing what the mission churches look like.
These windows depict, in clockwise order, San Miguel Arcangel, San Jose de Guadalupe, San Juan Bautista, and San Fernando Rey missions and patron saints.
The California Volunteers Memorial, on Dolores Street at Market Street. The statue was dedicated in 1903 and originally located at Van Ness Avenue & Market Street. The palm trees in the median of Dolores Street were planted by John McLaren in 1915 for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.
An apartment building on Dolores Street at 14th Street.
A cottage on Dolores Street. The house was built in 1853 by the Tanforan family and is an example of early housing in the neighborhood.
Houses on Dolores Street.
Houses on Hidalgo Terrace. These houses were built in 1920.
The old Mission Savings Bank building, at 16th & Valencia Streets. The structure was built in 1909.
Businesses on 16th Street.
A produce market at 17th & Mission Streets. The structure was built in 1922.
The Redlick-Newman Company furniture store, at 17th & Mission Streets. The store was built in 1916.
Buildings on 18th Street.
Buildings on Mission Street. The Streamline Moderne retail structure was built in 1919.
Businesses on Mission Street. The buildings date back to the early 1900s.
Businesses on Mission Street.
The El Capitan Theatre, on Mission Street. The theater was built in 1930 and was also a hotel when it originally opened.
Businesses on Mission Street. The Tower Theater, built in 1912 as the Majestic Theater and remodelled into a Streamline Moderne style in 1937, is up the street.
Iglesia Universal de Reino de Dios, on 20th Street. The church was built in 1922.
Houses on 20th Street. These houses were on the fire line of the 1906 earthquake, as the fire never crossed 20th Street here and destroyed the houses like it did on the other side of the street.
Houses and apartment buildings on Guerrero Street.
Houses on Guerrero Street.
Houses on 20th Street.
Houses on 20th Street. The house in the center was built in 1880, and the house on the right was built in 1874.
Houses on 20th Street. The house on the right was built in 1871.
Mission High School, on 18th Street. The school was built in 1926 in a Spanish Baroque style and is considered San Francisco's nicest public school.
The Second Church of Christ, Scientist, on Dolores Street at Cumberland Street. The church was built in 1917.
Mission Dolores Park, located at the western end of the neighborhood between 18th, Dolores, 20th, and Church Streets.
Looking at Downtown Oakland from Mission Dolores Park.
A view of San Francisco's skyline from Mission Dolores Park.