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Messages from the Mission

I was drawn into this project by my regular walks in the Mission district of San Francisco, where I have lived for over 30 years. This neighborhood is once again “in transition” as young white tech workers have moved in, pushing out Latinos, who bumped aside the Irish and Italians, Scandinavians and Germans, many of whom originally came during the gold rush. And so it went, generation after generation, back to the original immigrants—the Spanish missionaries and soldiers who brought religion and disease to the Ohlone Indians.

My main purpose in photographing here for more than 10 years has been to record and to see more clearly the different worlds that collide and coexist along these streets, and to explore the vibrant hodgepodge that has evolved. As the community continues to change, my hope is that these photos can serve as a kind of Mission memoir, as messages plucked from these streets to serve as emblems of this place, this moment in time—there on the sidewalk in chalk, behind glass in a store window, or left hanging on a utility pole. Many of these “emblems” now no longer exist; they have been rubbed away by the rapid turnover of the residents in the neighborhood, or simply by the passage of time.

Pat Koren is a photographer and designer who lives in the Mission district of San Francisco.

Photos: Pat Koren © 2016


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