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San Franciso is sprawling with landmarks and recognizable monuments. From the Golden Gate Bridge to the famous Wharf, San Francisco’s history is as remarkable as it is appealing.

Nestled along the sidewalks, in banks, and streets you will undoubtedly encounter the notorious Heart statutes. With Hearts beating sporadically all across this great city, the large installations are as mysterious as they are stunning.

Here is a brief history of the well-known Heart installations and what they stand for:

The Hearts’ Purpose

The Heart of San Francisco stand autonomously. They are sprawled throughout the city and capture the awe of passersby alike. They first appeared in 2004 as the brainchild of the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation.

The Hearts were inspired by “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”, a classic by the renowned singer Tony Bennett. The hospital devised the plan to showcase the talent of local artists and to create a positive social impact.

The Heart statues’ purpose was to raising money for the hospital by artistic contributions from some of the most famous artists on the planet. Although those days have passed, the Hearts stand united and provide visitors with the following reminders to practice:

  • kindness
  • the act of giving
  • unity

Each year, new local artists receive an invite to paint their own Heart to be showcased in the city the same year. At the end of the year, each Heart is auctioned off and the proceeds go directly to the associated hospital.

The Artists’ Murals

The coveted Hearts statues draw onlookers from near and far. Artists execute their innermost creative vision onto the statues for all to see.

The artists create a wide array of styles that include compilations of polaroids photographs, mosaics, abstract art, and even portraits of San Fran’s famous wild parrots. The artists convey emotions through their works to garner as much money to raise funds for the hospital—and it pays off every time.

Heroes and Hearts

Each year, a fundraiser luncheon is held for the foundation Heroes and Hearts. Since 2006, the luncheon paved the way to discuss the placement of new Hearts, honor the local heroes who contribute to the city, and pay homage to the brilliant artists who make it all possible.

The Hearts have become a tradition in lining the city streets and are now aligned with the city’s own history. The project has since raised millions of dollars and promoted the works of up-and-coming artists. Many artists launched their career from being selected to paint one of the famous Hearts!

Heroes and Hearts first started in a small tent in Union Square. Now, it sells out with over 1,000 spectators and contributors each year. The funds raised have helped the hospital and their wonderful patients immensely. The funds have contributed toward:

  • essential modernization and upgrades
  • hospital grants
  • improving overall patient care

The Heartbeat of the City

The glorious hearts, beating since 2004, have earned over $27 million in the last several years alone from the auctions. The hospital’s upkeep is well-maintained, thus earning it one of the top spots of best hospitals in the country.

Over 350 art Hearts have been auctioned off in the past years. Organizers have compared the Hearts to Chicago’s annual “Cows on Parade” installations that feature cows. Other installations feature moose, cows, fish, and more across the nation—but San Francisco is held in the highest regard with the Hearts with the Heartbeat that can be heard across the world.

Auction Options

If you are interested in bidding on a Heart at the annual auction, you have several ways to place your offer. You can participate in person at Oracle Park or place your bid at the eventual auction on eBay. Learn more at

Contributions will continue to go to the local hospital proceeds to keep it modern and utilizing the best, most advanced technology available today. These installations are one of the best ways to give back to the city—and keep San Francisco’s heart beating.

Ask your local real estate agents any questions you may have about San Francisco and its beautiful, rich culture. They are well-versed in San Francisco’s statistics and history.

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