Mission Dolores Park: then & now

We’re headed to San Francisco to spend Thanksgiving with my dad. He moved to San Francisco when I was fifteen, landing in the Mission District, in an apartment overlooking Mission Dolores Park. I would say, ‘the neighborhood has really changed’ but it’d still be too extravagant of an understatement.

Mission Dolores park film family photography by Rachel Sima Photography
Film Family Photography in Mission Dolores Park by Rachel Sima Photography

The park, physically, has since added a huge play structure and an ultra modern public restroom but it’s the demographic changes that are most apparent. When I used to stay with my dad in high school, the park was mostly unoccupied space except a few homeless people sleeping under blankets and one or two Mexican teens selling marijuana by the bridge.

Film Family Photography in Mission Dolores Park by Rachel Sima Photography

Now, on a sunny day, every foot of the park is packed by mostly 20 and 30 somethings, splayed out on picnic blankets, drinking craft beer and scrolling on iPhones. There are still people selling marijuana but it’s legal here now, and the sellers are typically white people hawking Gluten Free and vegan edibles. Huge swaths of the park are off-leash areas although by mid-day on the weekend there’s far too much food on ground level to reasonably let a dog free.

Film Family Photography in Mission Mural Walk by Rachel Sima Photography
Film Family Photography in Mission Mural Walk by Rachel Sima Photography

Looking back, further into the history of the park, it was inhabited, in turns, by the Ohlone Indians, Spanish Missionaries, and a Jewish Cemetery before its present incarnation as a public park. It’s incredible to consider how supremely diverse this small physical space would be if you could collapse the single dimension of time.

Film Family Photography in Mission Mural Walk by Rachel Sima Photography