San Francisco’s Secret Mosaic Staircase

If you’ve ever wanted to find a hidden art gem in San Francisco, head to 16th and Moraga to discover The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps. Not only will you be able to see some amazing views of the city, you’ll get to appreciate a beautiful mosaic running up 163 steps. Inspired by the world-famous steps in Rio de Janeiro, Irish ceramist Aileen Barr and mosaic artist Colette Crutcher joined forces, working with over 300 community volunteers for over a two and a half year period until they unveiled the project in August 2005.

The names of over 220 sponsors were actually woven into the sweeping sea-to-sky design and, amazingly, over 2,000 handmade tiles and 75,000 fragments of tile, mirror and stained glass went into the finished piece. There were a total of 163 separate mosaic panels created, one for each step riser.

On Yelp, the staircase received 5 out of 5 stars with 93 reviews. Here’s how a few Yelpers described the steps:

“The steps paint a picture of the sea flowing into the sky. A colorful twist of water and sea life swirl up the steps to land with flowers, plants, birds, and frogs and ends with a beautiful sky with stars and even a massive sun.” – Alice S.

“Best & prettiest stairs in the city!” – Cara K.

“BEAUTIFUL. I was blown away by the detailing in the mosaics! I could probably spend HOURS here looking at each of the designs on the steps! This is definitely a hidden treasure worth seeking out!” – Kellin H.




Tiled Steps website
Photos via [Landscape Architects], [Tile Steps], [Janet Blake]



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