Celebrating the Mission District in San Francisco

Hispanic Heritage Month

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – The Mission District’s cultural legacy blooms in murals along the city’s streets, like Juana Alicia’s painting – “Para Las Rosas” – which means “for the roses.”

“Flowering happened during the 1980s when I was painting this.”

In the 1980s, political turmoil drove Central Americans to the United States.

But Latinos inhabited the Mission District long before that.

The area was historically an Irish community.

After WWII, Irish residents resettled in newly-built homes in the Sunset District.

“So what we see taking place in the Mission District is the movement of people who are of Irish descent to the avenues.”

Carlos Cordova is a retired professor from San Francisco State University.

He says by the 1950s, the Mission transitioned into a Latino neighborhood.

“They created restaurants. They created businesses.”

Cultural institutions flourished in the 1970s.

Local groups established The Mexican Museum, Galeria de la Raza, and the Mission Cultural Center.

It’s the largest Latino cultural center in the country.

“It’s four floors of great activity and great events that were taking place during the time and continue to this day and time.”

The Civil Wars forced people to flee from Central America, and by the 1980s, the Mission’s Latino population was booming.

“The Mission becomes what I would say the springboard for many people who come to the city, who come to California, and eventually move to different parts of the Bay Area.”

Located on 24th Street, murals like Carnaval paint the cultural, political, and social Latino experience.

Alicia portrayed a Mexican folktale in her “La Llorona” painting.

“Whose children are sacrificed to the water, but in more contemporary terms she’s reviving them.”

By 1999, 24th Street coined the name Calle 24 to reinforce and promote the corridor’s Latino heritage.

“It gives us a sense of pride and identity looking at it as the hub of the Latino community.”

Over the years, thousands of Latinos have left the Mission District because of gentrification.

But the elements of the culture are still on the walls, the businesses, and the people.

“We are fighting. We are struggling and continuing to try to keep the identity of the community as well as keeping our people there.”

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