The Market Street Railway mural shows a 180-degree bird's eye view of San Francisco's Market Street through time, divided vertically into sections corresponding to different moments in history, in chronological order.
Click on any of the vertical sections in the navigator image, for a description of each!
The connecting theme: the Market Street Railway.
What ties the sections together is the historic Market Street Railway. Streetcars from the 1920's are shown traveling the whole length of the mural (remaining colored in sepia tone throughout), surviving through different transportation eras, through all sorts of historic events, from their heyday in the 1920's all the way into the present and future. At the right end of the mural, a little streetcar breaks out of the picture, riding on into infinity.
What the mural is about
The mural seeks to showcase a wide range of uses that Market Street as a public space has been able to accommodate over the years. In this mural they include a formal parade, a mass demonstration, a free-form celebration, a violent police riot (all based on real events).
This is meant as a tribute to the urban center as a place uniquely conducive to individual and collective expression, a place where history is made, and politics becomes visible. It is also an homage to San Francisco in particular, as a place where people have kept inventing new spontaneous ways of utilizing the streets they share, which is what makes this a vibrant and engaging place to live.
The look of normal daily life on the street is also compared across different historical periods (in the 1920‘s, in the 1940’s, in the early 2000’s), so that a striking shift in traffic and transportation design priorities emerges.
The last section of the mural is a fantasy of what Market Street might look like in the future, with daylighted creeks, new transit modes, repurposed buildings, etcetera. The details therein hint to paradigm shifts having occurred, but it is not meant as a program, but rather as a playful invitation to rethink the public space we share. By reminding us how radically things have changed over a few decades, this tongue-in-cheek utopian future seeks to spark and fertilize our visions and hopes for radical positive change in the future.
Size: 38 x 12 feet
11,6 x 3,6 meters
Funded by a grant from the San Francisco Neighborhood Beautification Fund, and by San Francisco Beautiful.
Nonprofit Fiscal Sponsors: SomArts, CounterPULSE
Design and painting by Mona Caron
Special thanks to:
David Hochschild (initiator)
Chris Carlsson (life inspiration)
Dedication in memory of Dave Pharr
This mural was honored with:
Certificate of Honor by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors
California Legislature Assembly Certificate of Recognition
2004 San Francisco Beautification Award from San Francisco Beautiful.
SF Bay Guardian's 2004 "Best Of The Bay" award
San Francisco Magazine "Best Of The Bay Area" 2005 award
2005 Precita Eyes Special Recognition Mural Award