Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mission Dolores

The Mission Dolores is located at the intersection of Dolores and 16th Street in San Francisco's Mission District.  There are a number of historic markers associated with this site.  The Mission Dolores is San Francisco Historical Landmark number 1, as determined by the City and County of San Francisco.  The original site of the Mission Dolores is California State Historical Landmark number 327, and the current site is designated California Historical Landmark number 784, the northernmost point of the Camino Real, the Spanish "Royal Road" that was maintained throughout California, and the northernmost point visited by Father Junipero Serra, the founder of the California Mission system.

The Mission Dolores was the sixth religious settlement established as part of a chain of Catholic missions created by the Spanish crown and the Catholic Church.  The mission was founded on June 29th, 1776 by Lieutenant Jose Joaquin Moraga and Father Francisco Palou.  The founding of this mission was an extension of the goals of the de Anza Expedition, which intended to bring Spanish settlers to northern California and evangelize the Native American population.

The original site of the mission was actually closer to the intersection of Camp and Albion Streets.  A log structure was constructed there after the necessary church documents had arrived at the settlement.  The mission experienced a great deal of growth and success during the ffirst part of the 19th century, but the Mexican-American War and the Mexican War of Independence put a great deal of strain on the religious community.  Following the Mexican governments secularization of church property in 1934, the mission lost the vast majority of its land, money, and resources, retaining only the church buildings, their immediate surroundings, and enough land to garden and provide food for the religious community.  Most of the property and possessions of the mission were sold off to private owners.

The Mission Dolores experienced new growth during the California Gold Rush when a flood of immigrants began moving into the Mission neighborhood and it became a popular destination for entertainment and cheap lodgings.  A new church building was created to address the religious needs of the growing church community, though this building was later destroyed in the 1906 earthquake.  By contrast, the original adobe building suffered almost no damage, though the fires that swept through San Francisco following the earthquake reached almost to the church's doorstep.

Gettin There By Bike...
It couldn't be easier to get to the Mission Dolores by bike.  The simplest way to get there is to take the BART to the 16th and Mission stop.  When you leave the BART station, follow 16th St. west for three blocks.  The mission is on the corner of 16th and Dolores Street.  Be careful of the ridiculous quantities of brokeen glas that can sometimes cover the streets of the Mission.  

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