Welcome to San Francesco’s striking Coit Tower.
In a city known for its great views and vantage points, the great Coit Tower is one of the
very best. The tower, located on top of Telegraph Hill, has gotten its name from its founder;
Lillie Hitchcock Coit. She was an eccentric San Francisco personality,
known for her support of the local firemen. She is said to sometimes volunteer as a firefighter
and ride along with the firemen, a behavior many regarded as “unladylike” during her era.
She ignored these people as she had the money to live her life as she pleased. She donated
much of that money to assisting the firefighters in the city. After her death, one third of
her fortune was donated to the city. In her will, she stated that the donation was “to
be expended in an appropriate manner for the purpose of adding to the beauty of the city
which I have always loved” The result is the beautiful 64 meters high
tower you can see today. The construction of the tower started in 1933 and finished
5 years later. The main architect was Arthur Brown Jr., the same man who designed the magnificent
San Francisco City Hall. If you look at the tower, you will see that its shape and form
is very similar to a fire hose nozzle. However, according to the architect himself and contrary
to popular opinion, the tower was not designed with this in mind. The tower is made of unpainted reinforced
concrete, which gives it its white color. Inside you can find several wall paintings
made by artists from the Public Works of Art Project. These paintings date back to the
early 1930ies. The 26 artists responsible for the frescos all agreed on using the same
painting technique in order to make the paintings match. If you look at the paintings, you will
see that many of them have a somewhat socialist theme. They depict the struggles of working
class Americans and working people during the depression.
The frescos originate from a time where the American Socialist movement was at its height.
Depression related economic challenges led to much discussion about alternate forms of
government and worker strikes were not uncommon. The paintings caused a lot of controversy
as they were deemed too left wing. Some of them even got destroyed, including one featuring
an image of Lenin and another one featuring a hammer and a sickle. This controversy even
delayed the grand opening of the tower several months.
Today, the paintings are considered to be one of California’s best examples of depression-era
public art. Due to their historic significance, the murals are now protected as a historical
treasure. Another beautiful view can be attained from
the top of the tower. The top gives you a spectacular 360° view over San Francisco.
From the great observation platform you can see most of San Francisco, including the Golden
Gate Bridge, the Aquatic Park, Alcatraz, Treasure Island and the whole Financial District.