Behind the Scenes

We Love SF: The Incredible Mosaic 16th Avenue Steps

Nestled into the hillside in San Francisco’s foggy Sunset neighborhood, a brightly colored staircase stands out like a diamond in the rough. 163 mosaic tiled stairs lead from one block, up a steep incline to the next block. Where did this magical staircase come from?


In 2003, the residents of this quaint neighborhood around 16th and Moraga started working on an elaborate mosaic design inspired by the tiled Santa Teresa Steps in Rio de Janiero.


Two local artists, Aileen Barr and Colette Crutcher led the design process, creating a colorful sea to sky design. Although the steps were originally built in 1926, the neighborhood wanted to do something special that would add vibrant color to where they live.

16th street paul

Over 300 people joined together to make the 163 mosaic riser panels, with over 200 sponsored tiles with names on them. A local tilesetting company set the panels into the staircases free of charge and tiled the step treads with a nonslip tile.


Now, this architectural gem draws visitors from all over the city, who want to climb from the fish-tiled steps at the bottom to the starry tiles at the top.

Next time you’re in San Francisco, visit the 16th Avenue steps at 16th Avenue between Moraga and Noriega.

See more of our favorite spots in SF.



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