Located on the top of Telegraph Hill, Coit Tower has provided locals and visitors alike with spectacular views of the city—including Alcatraz, Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Financial District, and more—since it was completed in 1933.
Coit Tower has an interesting and rather controversial history. Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a philanthropist and great admirer of the firefighters who battled the 1906 earthquake fire, left funds to the city for the beautification of San Francisco. The funds were used for construction of the art-deco tower. As it began to take shape, local artists were outraged and appealed to the city’s Art Commission to halt the project. They claimed that the finished project would be esthetically unpleasant because it would be two-thirds as tall as the 288-foot-high Telegraph Hill itself. (As it stands today, Coit Tower rises 180 feet above a rectangular base that’s 32 feet high.) The artists also complained that the monument was a mockery because they assumed (as do many of us to this day) that the architects had designed it to look like a fire hose nozzle in memory of Lillie Hitchcock Coit’s fondness for the fire department. The architects consistently denied this. And, according to Coit Tower’s official website, “the crowning irony seemed to be that though the site itself was quite appropriate, Lillie Hitchcock Coit…had an aversion to towers.”
Inside the tower, you’ll find murals painted by artists in 1933 thanks to the federal Works Progress Administration, which was created during the Depression. These are considered historical treasures.
1 Telegraph Hill Blvd.
San Francisco, CA 94133
Open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
No charge to view the murals on the first floor.
Elevator ride to the top, $3.