San Francisco’s Mission District has been a hub of Hispanic culture since Mexican immigrants first began settling there in the 1940s. In the decades that followed, the neighborhood became emblematic of the city’s sanctuary policies for undocumented immigrants: a bustling and vibrant place where Hispanic businesses, churches and restaurants could thrive. (Incidentally, the neighborhood is widely credited with introducing Americans to the burrito –- an accomplishment for which I, as an avowed Chipotle addict, will be eternally grateful.)
In recent years, an influx of white 20- and 30-somethings, attracted by the neighborhood’s affordable housing and proximity to downtown, shifted the Mission District’s demographics. The change –- I suppose “gentrification” is the technical term, but “hipsterfication” seems more appropriate — is readily apparent to anyone walking around the intersection of Mission and 24th Streets, the neighborhood’s two primary thoroughfares.
But I still heard more Spanish than English as I walked these streets with my camera, and was grateful to see that taquerias still outnumbered vintage fixed-gear bicycles. While the tattooed, skinny-jeans-wearing set is now an undeniable presence in the neighborhood, the Mission District remains a bastion of Hispanic culture and pride. From the murals that decorate its alleyways, to the colorful storefronts along tree-lined 24th Street, to the sounds of a band performing on Mission Street, the neighborhood stands to retain its unique identity well into the 21st century. Here are some of its sights and sounds.