Originally called "Cedar Lane," the alley's name was changed around the turn of the twentieth century to Clarion Alley. The street is notable for community and arts activity, including the Clarion Alley Mural Project, the American Indian Center and Promotoras Latinas Comunitarias de Salud.
The warehouse at 47 Clarion was originally known as the Woodmen Building with the main door at 3345 17th Street. It was an IWW meeting hall, where Tom Mooney once attempted to organize railway workers, Later, it was home to artists and musicians from at least the early sixties through 2001. Notable residents included Terry Riley, The Cockettes, Lise Swenson of Artists' Television Access, and two of the artists - Rigo 23 and Aaron Noble, who were founding members of the Clarion Alley Mural Project. 47 Clarion was demolished in 2001, and a parking lot for the condominium project on 17th Street replaced it. It became a symbol of the neighborhood's gentrification.
Since 1992, the alley has been covered in murals painted by the Clarion Alley Mural Project. Alley residents Noble and Rigo together painted the mural "Superhero Warehouse" showing a series of depressed superheroes on the warehouse's side, as a contribution to the mural project. Another of the early murals, painted by Scott Williams after research done by Fred Rinne, depicted native animals of the Mission District.
Clarion Alley was featured in the opening chapter of the fiction novel "Dog Days" by John Levitt. The main character is ambushed by evil forces that animate one of the murals into a monstrous force.
- Murray, Julie. "Moving Stairway to Heaven" in Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo, Jacoby, Annice, ed. NY: Abrams, 2009. p 126
- Noble, Aaron. "The Clarion Alley Mural Project" p. 113 and "Vatos Mexicanos Locos" p. 122 in Street Art San Francisco: Mission Muralismo, Jacoby, Annice, ed. NY: Abrams, 2009
- Rapoport, Lynn. "Wall space: The Clarion Alley Mural Project uses public art to paint a home," San Francisco Bay Guardian, October 23, 2002
- Sanborn Maps, SFPL
- "Clarion Alley and Post-modernism". FoundSF. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
- "Dot.com Meltdown Real Estate Frenzy Subsides at end of 2000". FoundSF. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
- "The Epicenter of Crime: The Hunt’s Donuts Story". FoundSF. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
- Curt Gentry, Frame-up; the incredible case of Tom Mooney and Warren Billings. Norton 1967
- Crocker Langley City Directory 1920
- "Projects". Megan Wilson. Retrieved 2013-09-22.
- Levitt, John (2007). Dog Days. Penguin Group. pp. 1–3. ISBN 9780441015535.
- "sfbg.com". sfbg.com. 2002-10-23. Retrieved 2013-09-22.