Alemany Island


An island in imagination only, Alemany Island lies at the edge of a freeway maze, on the site of culverted Islais Creek. It is situated directly across from the Alemany Farmers Market in San Francisco on San Bruno Avenue.  Alemany Island is a 3-part project: a native garden, a soaring freeway support mural and a multipanel mural at the entrance to the Portola District on San Bruno Avenue. Using Book and Wheel’s Porto-Lotería Game, neighbors in the Portola created a 48 panel mural next to a 50 foot high freeway support painted with images also represented in Porto-Lotería. The freeway column was designed by Cory Ferris and depicts a San Francisco garter snake and Mission Blue butterflies. These two endangered species were chosen as being emblematic of the natural beauty of the Portola whose greenhouses had once supplied San Francisco’s flower markets. Davery Yim, a City College student designed a native garden to be installed at the base of the mural, thus completing the project. Lia Smith was the project coordinator.

The process

Community activist Lia Smith and the Portola Neighborhood Association devised a unique method so that 44 households, 3 classrooms and 1 fire station, many first time painters, could each paint a 4′ x 5′ panel with an image from the game. Icons of the Portola District–greenhouses, windmills and McLaren Park as well as local heroes, athlete Sululagi Palega, street cleaner Mike Goff and librarian Roz Chang–are represented. Nature, history, local institutions and beloved community members fill the 48 panels painted by volunteers aged 12 to 80+.


The Portola Neighborhood Association members and volunteers, including residents who painted panels installed the panels on Alemany Island, across from the Alemany Farmers Market. Neighbors continue to maintain the project. Contact the Portola Neighborhood Association to volunteer.


Special thanks to Precita Eyes founder, Susan Cervantes, and Peter Frauenfelder and all the painters and volunteers who made Alemany Island possible.

Alemany Island is a Portola Neighborhood Association project funded by a San Francisco Community Challenge Grant in collaboration with SFDPW and Caltrans.