The Mission has an above average violent crime rate and an average property crime rate for San Francisco.
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The Mission is one of San Francisco’s most popular and vibrant neighborhoods and the center of debate about gentrification, eviction, and housing projects in the city. It’s named for the Mission San Francisco de Asis church, which still stands next to the immensely popular Dolores Park, the gem of the neighborhood. On almost any weekend you will find the park full of every type of person sitting and enjoying the day, practicing acrobatic yoga, hula hooping, playing music, walking around selling marijuana edibles or rum-filled fresh coconuts, or roving in search of beer cans to collect and trade for the deposit.
It is considered the sunniest neighborhood in San Francisco, and although it’s a big neighborhood, it’s dense and lively and features beautiful murals flowing along buildings and down alleys.
The Mission used to have a reputation for being dangerous and dirty, and while it’s still not the cleanest neighborhood, it’s pretty safe these days. The neighborhood is rectangular-shaped and the flavor changes depending on which end you’re on. The two cultures at play in the Mission are the many established and immigrant Latinx families and the younger creative types who are progressively either giving way or turning into young urban professionals working in technology with disposable income, fueling gentrification here.
This is a centrally located spot, is very walkable, and is home to two of the handful of BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit, SF’s subway) stops: 16th St. Mission. and 24th St. Mission, which are hubs of buses, homelessness, and political and religious activity (expect to hear Christians proselytizing in Spanish as you exit the station), making it one of the most accessible neighborhoods.
The Mission has some of the oldest housing in the city, and is a mix of Victorian and Edwardian houses (though not all are as beautiful as others), small, walk-up apartments, and small homes. While there are some condominiums, none are taller than four or five stories.
In line with its size, the Mission has two main drags -- Valencia Street and Mission Street, which roughly coincide with the culture shift that is both distinct and beautifully blended (the streets themselves run parallel and only a couple of short blocks away from each other at the center of the neighborhood, encapsulating this dynamic). Valencia Street tends towards hip bars and coffee shops, boutiques and chic art galleries, and small music venues, while Mission Street lends itself more towards discount stores and small Mexican grocery stores, taquerias, and corner liquor stores.
In general, the more north and west you go in the neighborhood the more gentrified and cleaner. Towards the east and south you can spot tents that are some peoples’ makeshift homes. In general, the people who live in these are friendly and nonthreatening.
Goods in the Mission tend to be cheaper than in the other popular neighborhoods in the city. Drinks and food tend to cost less than Downtown and North Beach, or at least you can find places that are cheaper mixed in with the trendier, pricier places. It’s a great place for young people and people who want to feel like they’re living in the heart of the city. And while there are certainly lots of quiet little streets and quieter sections (especially on the western end), people (especially those with families and older people looking to settle) who want to go home to a quieter place but don’t want to sacrifice centrality may want to consider nearby Noe Valley instead.
Notes: Don’t get the Mission confused with a different neighborhood, the Outer Mission. It is sometimes called the “Inner Mission” for this reason. Also, Mission Dolores and Dolores Heights both refer to the section surrounding and including Dolores Park. They are still considered to be within the Mission.
The Mission is bordered on the north by SoMa, on the east by Potrero Hill, on the south by Bernal Heights, and on the west by Noe Valley and Eureka Valley.
Dolores Park has been newly redone and features tennis courts, a playground, and amazing views, with plenty of space to lay out and soak in the sun (sometimes a rare commodity in San Francisco). On a warm, sunny day the park will be filled with people lounging around and kids scrambling around its playground.
While murals can be found all over the Mission, two of the most popular hotspots are Clarion Alley near the 16th St. Bart stop and Balmy Alley near the 24th St. Bart stop.
Quirky dive bar with an old-school phone booth motif and a low-key clientele.
A non-profit art gallery and screening venue where you can sometimes catch performance art in the street-level window.
A very cool curiosities shop with lots of creepy things like small animal skeletons and fossils and a plant nursery in the back.
This hip Mediterranean restaurant consistently wins awards for its cuisine. And at night they project a foreign movie on the wall.
Photo Credits: Thanks to @lizprueitt_tartine, @madame_patachou, @tiffwang_, @dogswag, @phlop, @radio.cure, @jodiface, @sampete1, @ryancwatson, @purplenatalia, @sarah.mcclanahan, @smithandstarr, @whatsthewurst, @melanybillard, @kid_kalaliss23, @chrislongyne, @milospjanic, @lilfob, @callumrlamb, @luupitabread for your great photos of this neighborhood!
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