Secret Tiled Staircase
An artsy hidden staircase leads to breathtaking views of San Francisco.
The 16th Avenue Staircase is 163 steps of mosaic tiles, a colorful staircase hidden in the quiet Sunset district of San Francisco. This neighborhood has few other tourist draws, but those who find the staircase will be rewarded with sweeping views of the city, and a beautiful garden design including succulents and native habitat plants for the Green Hairstreak butterfly. The site is an important waypoint on San Francisco’s famous butterfly-bolstering Green Hairstreak Corridor.
The project began in 2003 and was completed in 2005, with the help of artists and many neighborhood volunteers, and was inspired by the Selarón staircase in Rio de Janeiro, a brightly colored tiled staircase and popular tourist destination.
All the mosaics are donated by the community. At the very top is the sun (the stairs ascend from “sea Level” to the sun—get it?). There’s also another garden at the bottom and one of the last crops of Franciscan formation at the top (it has its own biozone!).
The artists for this stairway are Collette Crutcher and Aileen Barr.
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