One of the most unique art projects in San Francisco can be seen at the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps in the Golden Gate Heights neighborhood at 16th and Moraga. It’s a beautiful work of art and the reason it’s so unique is that more than 300 residents, local artists and local tile producers all worked together to create it. The intent was to enhance the neighborhood by creating a stairway with themed mosaic patterns that flow up the 163 steps. More than 220 neighbors sponsored the commemorative animal, bird and fish name tiles that are within the mosaic pattern, and their financial assistance provided funds for the majority of the project. Additional funding was provided by The San Francisco Parks Trust.
In 2003, neighborhood residents Jessie Audette and Alice Yee Xavier began to gather support from other residents for this project. They selected San Francisco artists Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher to help create the design for the 163 mosaic tile panels. Then the artists provided mosaic workshops in the neighborhood for people to learn how to make mosaic panels. The tiles were installed by KZ Tile, a San Francisco tile setting company.
The entire project was completed in 2005. The inauguration ceremony included many notable people such as Professor Francesco Pignataro, the Mayor of Caltagirone, Italy, where the famous Scala Steps are located. He cut the inaugural ribbon with San Francisco Supervisor Sean Elsbernd who was acting as Mayor for the Day. Members of the Nguyen Dance Company accompanied Chinese lion dancers while they struck gongs and drums, and ran up and down the steps setting off firecrackers. The entire event was reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, The Beacon, and the national Italian television station.
The view of San Francisco from the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps is impressive and at the top, there’s another set of stairs leading to Grand View Park with an even better view of the city. In 2006, a grant was given by San Francisco Beautiful to develop gardens on the north side of the stairway. In 2010, members of the San Francisco Succulent Society donated more plants and in 2014, Nature in the City joined the effort to restore the area as a butterfly habitat. Since 2006, the San Francisco chapter of One Brick, a national volunteer organization, has helped to coordinate the volunteer workers. Volunteers are welcome to help the neighborhood maintain the gardens on Earth Day and during the fall season.
Peter Cross is an accomplished article writer and creative writer who has produced hundreds of articles for many different clients since 2006 when he retired from his consulting business.