San Francisco Murals Many Visitors Miss

A day at the post office might not be what you expected.

While the murals in Coit Tower get all the glory, an equally impressive WPA set awaits in Rincon Annex, a U.S. post office from 1941 to 1979. The 27-panel “History of San Francisco” took artist Anton Refregier eight years to finish, partially because perturbed groups represented in it kept asking for revisions.

Rincon-exterior_dauvit-alexanderPhoto by Dauvit Alexander via Flickr

The church found the friars too contentedly plump; the unions worried over associations with communists. Indeed, Congress during the McCarthy era considered whether the works should have been destroyed. The murals don’t seem so incendiary today, but they are a time capsule of art struggling with contemporary truth-telling.


Today, in addition to viewing the murals, one can shop the stores in the attached Rincon Center. The atrium features the stunning-to-watch-and-listen-to “Rain Column”: 55 gallons of water falling 85 feet every minute.

Cask carries spiffy fine wine and artisanal liquors, and Amawele’s South African Kitchen is a nifty mix of cuisines featuring unusual dishes, like Durban curry roti wraps and bunny chow: a vivid, rabbitless curry served in what seems like a carved-out half-loaf of bread.

rincon_david-mcspaddenPhoto by David McSpadden via Flickr