Restore – 49 was a bold initiative launched in March 2020 by merging architecture, art, and community in response to the COVID-19 shelter-in-place ordinance and the uncertainty of a rapid return to "normal" in the Bay Area.
Amidst the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses and large retailers alike shuttered throughout the Bay Area, adhering to state mandates to protect employees and consumers while they faced an uncertain economic future. In a matter of weeks, storefronts preemptively were boarded up and secured to prevent looting and theft. With over 120,000 small businesses in San Francisco, this was an enormously consequential change in the urban scenery. With an uncertain timeline for re-opening, many of those storefronts, and as a result, neighborhoods, remained shuttered for months on end, leading to urban decay and blight.
Restore 49 aimed to rejuvenate the urban terrain and reactivate the sites of shuttered businesses while supporting communities in need through creative expression.The program restored the Bay Area community by partnering closed businesses with local artists in an effort to reimagine storefronts through art-inspired murals that evoke joy, hope, security, and positivity for all residents.
Restore-49 was created with sentiments to the San Francisco "49 mi²" area, the San Francisco gold rush, and the San Francisco 49ers.
In March of 2020, Demirchelie LLC created this project with the San Francisco non profit, Project Artivism in collaboration with Collective Action Studio, and mapped out closed businesses to link to artists and companies throughout the city. The project received funding and donations from organizations such as the San Francisco Foundation, Walgreens, and Genentech.
In just a matter of months, over 60 murals were painted, and various city blocks around San Francisco were covered with unique creations by established and young artists, students, and local creators. Within this realm the spirit of community was brought back to the city.