Learn the history of one of San Francisco's most-recognized landmarks.
San Francisco's Coit Tower, rising from Telegraph Hill, offers sweeping views of the Golden Gate and Bay bridges, Alcatraz Island, and Lombard Street's crooked block. Dedicated on October 8, 1933, the 210-foot landmark was funded by colorful socialite and firefighters' patron Lillie Hitchcock Coit, for the purpose, she said in her will, of "adding beauty to the city."
A Nozzle Theory
Contrary to popular belief, the tower was never meant to look like the nozzle of a fire hose. Architect Henry Howard insisted it was "a simple fluted shaft."
Ticket to Rise
From 1933 to 1976, visitors shelled out 25 cents for an elevator ride to the tower's observation platform. Today the same ride costs $4.50.
Re Bird and Rebirth
A four-foot-wide, high-relief image of a phoenix—symbolizing San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake and fire—graces the entrance to Coit Tower.
In 1934, the first New Deal job program for artists paid local painters to create 31 murals for the structure, most of them frescoes depicting life in the Bay Area.
Artistic License Revoked
Politically charged slogans such as Workers of the World Unite were painted out of a mural portraying a surveyor and a steelworker shortly after it was finished.
Calling All Cars
A radio antenna was installed inside the tower in 1969 for use by the city's police department.
Coit Tower is at 1 Telegraph Hill Blvd. in San Francisco's Pioneer Park. (415) 362-0808.
This article was first published in September 2008. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.