California Travel

16th Avenue Tiled Steps ~ a Hidden Treasure in San Francisco

Tucked away in a San Francisco neighborhood is a gem of a find! On 16th Avenue between Moraga and Noriega Streets you will find a 163-step mosaic staircase.

My friend Mary drove to SF recently with me to keep an eye on me as I swam Aquatic Park in preparation for my swimming from Alcatraz Island. When she hopped in the car, she had with her Via Magazine published by AAA opened to the page highlighting these steps. So this side excursion was added to our itinerary for the day. According to Via Magazine, this staircase is the result of neighborhood collaboration. Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher spearheaded this project, and with the help of volunteers they were able to transform the staircase into a beautiful piece of art. Let me say that again, a BEAUTIFUL piece of art – hidden in a San Francisco neighborhood for all to enjoy!

16th Avenue Tiled Steps in San Francisco

As you climb the staircase you will notice that there is a story to be told. The earth at the bottom is filled with squirrels, plants, and insects. This then gives way to the sky filled with birds. You then come upon a river flowing down filled with fish surrounded by sea life – starfish and shells. Swirls of water with leaping fish and frogs then stream back to the land filled again with flora and fauna.

16th Avenue Steps in San Francisco

The staircase is tiled with bits of tile, gems, stained glass, and mirror. You will find many tiles of birds, flowers, bees, and fish all imprinted with names of donors that helped fund this project. I especially love the bird with the custom imprint of the message, “Let’s Fly”. It was a very poetic note to one climbing all 163 steps up above the city.

16th Avenue Steps in San Francisco

Above the land and river the mosaic opens up to the night sky with a large mirrored tiled crescent moon. The mirror tiles make it sparkle and shine just like a nighttime moon. Little yellow stars dot the perimeter.

1th Avneue Tiled Steps is San Francisco

As you reach the very top you are treated to a magnificent sun shooting sunbeams of yellow, orange, and red. You can feel the energy as you reach the top and look out over the vista. From this standing point you can see the Pacific Ocean. With a slight turn to your right you have the Golden Gate Bridge peaking out from around the corner.

16th Avenue Tiled Steps in San FranciscoOnce at the top, you need to come back down. Since you do not see the steps during your decent (unless you turn around and look back up) you will notice all the beautiful flowers and plants lining the steps themselves.

16th Avenue Tiled Steps in San Francisco

Easy to find and worth the diversion from you itinerary, this is a spot worth exploring. Thank you, Mary, for adding this to our day!

16th Avenue Tiled Steps in San Francisco is a beautiful piece of community art work! Be sure to visit it next time you are in San Francisco!

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(32) Comments

  1. Wow those steps are amazing. I want to go back to San Francisco soon and I’d love to go see these.

  2. These steps are beautiful! I think I have seen them in other photos, but I had no idea where they were. Now that I know they’re in San Francisco, I will make a point of finding them the next time we visit. Amazing art in the middle of the city. Love it!

  3. so beautiful! Love S.F.!

    1. Stacey says:

      Yes, SF is an amazing city!

  4. How pretty, love it. My favorite is the Yellow mosaic design

    1. Stacey says:

      There were so many great images along the steps – I’m not sure I had a favorite.

  5. That’s breathtaking! San Francisco is high up on my want to visit list 🙂 Good luck with your Alcatraz swim!

    1. Stacey says:

      Oh I hope you get to SF – you will love it. Thanks for the well wishes! The swim was amazing – and I plan on doing it again for sure!

  6. Gorgeous! We have some fun artwork in ATL but nothing like this, I don’t think.

    1. Stacey says:

      I bet you do! I didn’t know about this staircase until my friend told me about it. There are hidden gems in lots of big cities.

  7. Oh how I love SF! It’s such a lovely city.

    The staircase is absolutely gorgeous! My favorite parts are the hummingbirds and the big, bright sun 🙂

    1. Stacey says:

      I love SF as well! Wish I could spend more time there!

  8. Beautiful tiles and composition! 163 steps! Wow. I wonder how long it took you to climb up! And I’m impressed you will be swimming from Alcatraz Island!

    1. Stacey says:

      Oh, the climb is really not much. You are too busy enjoying the view to think about the climb. And the swim from Alcatraz was absolutely amazing! I will be doing it again for sure!

  9. this is such a cool staircase! I love gems like this that we can enjoy – it is so artistic!

    1. Stacey says:

      It is fun to find hidden treasures!

  10. What a gorgeous treasure! My girls would love this!

    1. Stacey says:

      I loved seeing all the people enjoying the staircase.

  11. Such a cool find!! I love finding the off the touristy path options!!

    1. Stacey says:

      I know! And to think it is tucked away in an unexpected place.

  12. Oh wow, I’ve never seen anything like those steps before. I love your photos, so sharp and clear, I definitely would love to visit San Francisco one day and if I do, I’ll have to take a lot of photos.

    1. Stacey says:

      I hope you get to visit one day. San Francisco is an amazing city!

  13. Super pretty. I can’t imagine running up those. Ouch.

    1. Stacey says:

      Oh me neither! Although their are stairs called Communication Hill that I walk up and down in San Jose. It is super hard!

  14. This is SO cool! I wish we had neat little spots like this in our city. I love finding beautiful architecture and art.

    1. Stacey says:

      You never know – you might have! I thought I knew San Francisco really well, but the city always surprises me!

  15. So beautiful! I love hidden treasure like this.

    1. Stacey says:

      They are so fun to find!

  16. Those steps are stunning do you know how long it took to create and fund this project. I love the stained glass detailing and the quotes give you the motivation to reach the sun at the top of the stairs.

    1. Stacey says:

      Ana, I don’t know. I do know that they came together as a community to make it happen. Such a great effort!

  17. These steps are a true gem. I love San Fran, and will have to check this out the next time I visit. The intricate tile work is amazing.

    1. Stacey says:

      There is so much to love about San Francisco! I hope you can visit these steps on you next trip.

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