Coit Tower: a San Francisco Landmark

posted by Sharon February 13, 2017 29 Comments
Coit Tower

Coit Tower sits atop Telegraph Hill in San Francisco and can be seen from vantage points all over the city. It’s named for patron Lillie Hitchcock Coit, who left funds when she died in 1929 “for the purpose of adding to the beauty of the city I have always loved.” The slender tower resulted, and it still stands, rising more than 200 feet from its base. Coit Tower

An elevator whisks visitors to the top of the tower to enjoy the 360-degree observation deck. From here you can see the densely built neighborhoods of San Francisco, the very crooked Lombard Street, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the former prison island of Alcatraz. San FranciscoSan FranciscoSan FranciscoSan Francisco

On our visit here a couple of years ago, Coit Tower was closed for refurbishment. Newly spiffed up now, it’s open and welcomes visitors every day. We climbed some 400 steps (the Filbert Steps) from the wharf area up the hill to reach the tower. This is a fun route through the backyards of those lucky enough to live here.

Coit Tower Filbert StepsFilbert Steps to Coit TowerFilbert Steps to Coit Tower

We arrived exactly in time to join a free tour of the art that adorns the rotunda at the bottom of the tower. Coit Tower

The murals on the walls have a fascinating history. A year after Coit Tower was completed, in 1934, a group of artists was funded by the Public Works of Art Project, a forerunner of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Each of the scenes depicts life in California during the Depression. The artists painted an assigned subject in an assigned area. Scenes show different aspects of industry and commerce. The artists worked at the same time, side by side, day after day, until the murals were finished a few months later. Coit TowerCoit TowerCoit TowerCoit TowerCoit Tower

The lively colors of these fresco paintings are vibrant after their recent restoration. The fog of San Francisco takes a toll, but plans are now to care for this art more frequently to prevent disrepair. You’ll notice a lot of detail in the paintings, such as this little dog.

Coit Tower

Artists also worked to fit in the windows in their assigned canvases. I especially appreciated this library scene.

Coit Tower

The second floor contains a few additional murals that show non-industrial life, such as this one of a card game. This area is closed to the public, but it’s included as part of the tour. Coit Tower

Coit Tower, with its art inside and views of San Francisco from the top, is worth adding to your itinerary. After an enjoyable morning here, we walked through the adjacent neighborhood of North Beach and stopped for yummy Italian food for lunch. After climbing those stairs, we were certainly hungry!

If you go:

Open 10 to 5 every day

Cost: $7 for a ticket to the top of the tower; art tour is included

For more information, click here.

Linking up with Image-in-ingLittle Things ThursdayWednesday Around the WorldThe Good, the Random, the Fun, Through My Lens, Seasons, Our World Tuesday, Photo Friday, Seasons at Life-n-Reflection, Travel Photo Thursday, City Tripping, Weekend Wanderlust, and Life Thru the Lens and Monday Mural.

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29 Comments

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handmade by amalia February 13, 2017 at 7:20 am

What an interesting post, I love hearing the history behind a monument.
Amalia
xo

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Taken For Granted February 13, 2017 at 10:25 am

Use to go to San Francisco all the time, but never been to Coit Tower. Thank you for the photos. I especially enjoyed seeing the WPA murals. You might think of posting a link to this post on Oakland Daily Photo that links to murals on Mondays.

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Tamar Strauss-Benjamin February 13, 2017 at 12:15 pm

So great! I so want to get to San Fran! I’m envious of all your travels!!

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Janey February 13, 2017 at 4:05 pm

I have been to Coit Tower but never inside. Now I see what I missed. All the reason to go back. beautiful post!

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Carol February 13, 2017 at 4:53 pm

I went to Coit Tower years ago when I visited San Francisco. Love the paintings. San Francisco has so many wonderful places to visit – wish I could go back.

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t February 13, 2017 at 5:37 pm

…the murals have a depression public works feel to them.

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jesh StG February 13, 2017 at 7:25 pm

Artwork …of course I’m thrilled:):) Yes, all those foggy days are not good for painting works! Even though LA is hilly, but it’s not geared toward tourism. The beach cities is where everyone goes there to have some enjoyment. Thank you Sharon for featuring the Coit tower and all these hilly views for ALL SEASONS:): Have a week with chocolates (if you celebrate Valentines Day) or other enjoyment:)

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Divya February 13, 2017 at 9:53 pm

Oh wow! so much to see!
I remember reading about the restoration work being done there. That was when I knew there were murals in there and that we could actually go into the tower. Ever since I’ve wanted to go and see those murals. The week before last we planned a trip to the tower and my little one wasn’t feeling well so we had to cancel the trip to The City.

And I didn’t know you could go all the way to the top. Thank you, Sharon. All the more reasons to go see Coit Tower.

Thank you so much for showing us those murals. It must have been something to walk through all of that art.
Thanks again, Sharon. 🙂

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artmusedog and carol February 13, 2017 at 10:47 pm

What a wonderful post and excellent photos ~ Love San Francisco ~ thanks for the tours and reminding me of fond memories ~

Wishing you a Happy Week ~ ^_^

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Fun60 February 13, 2017 at 10:57 pm

Thank you so much for the information. I am visiting San Francisco for the first time in three weeks. Can’t wait.

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Marcia February 14, 2017 at 12:26 am

Thanks for the tour. I was there in 1993 but we didn’t get to go up the tower.

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Jim, Sydney, Australia February 14, 2017 at 12:42 am

Great shots. Terrific art.
Sydney – City and Suburbs

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Patrick Weseman February 14, 2017 at 4:45 am

Very nice photos of a landmark in my city. Great photos. I love the walk up there.

Thanks for sharing.

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Photo(Geo)grapher February 14, 2017 at 7:11 am

Beautiful murals! Thanks for the tour.

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Rhonda Albom February 14, 2017 at 9:36 am

I have driven to Coit tower many times and have seen it from a distance but I have never actually been inside it or to the top.

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Claudia | ImagesByCW February 14, 2017 at 12:08 pm

Coit tower – the views and the art inside are pretty amazing. I visited once about 10 years ago and will never forget. The fact that it was the first time that I was confronted with a tripod being a security issue and not allowed on top… 🙂

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Photo Cache February 14, 2017 at 4:59 pm

I fall in love with San Francisco every time I see a photo of her online.

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Oakland Daily Photo February 16, 2017 at 3:29 am

Welcome to Monday Mural. You did a great job of capturing the Coit Tower murals, which are a San Francisco treasure. Truly a time in a bottle. Thanks for contributing to this week’s Monday Mural.

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Ruth February 16, 2017 at 3:57 am

Sharon, I really liked how you captured San Francisco in your photos (Lombard Street looks so cool). I did not have the time to stop by the Coit Tower when I visited the city. However, I would like to go back and see the views from the top and the murals (love those murals). #OurWorldTuesday

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kelleyn rothaermel February 17, 2017 at 5:46 am

Man we didn’t get to go up because it was closed when we got there. now I want to go back!

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Kat February 17, 2017 at 4:52 pm

Did you walk up there? It’s quite an incline, but it’s worth it for the views!

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Christine February 17, 2017 at 8:12 pm

Fantastic tour & photos especially of the art work
That would be a fun climb up but tiring too!

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Buckeroomama February 18, 2017 at 1:04 am

We didn’t make it to Coit Tower when we were in SF last summer. We had my MIL with us and she was quite tuckered out from all the climbing…

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Shaly February 18, 2017 at 6:34 am

Hi Sharon. I’ve been to San Francisco four times but never visited the Coit tower. I must say the views (esp of Lombard street) are super. Beautiful art work too. Will surely visit the next time I’m there. Thank you for this post.

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Rachel Heller February 18, 2017 at 10:58 am

Coit Tower is always the first thing I recommend to people visiting SF. I recommend going up the Greenwich steps and down the Filbert steps. The Greenwich steps lead through a small residential neighborhood with small wooden houses and narrow alleys for streets. Just lovely!

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jill February 18, 2017 at 1:07 pm

I was here about 15 years ago and even though we enjoyed the beautiful view I mainly went to see the murals. Aren’t they awesome? I’ll have to go back again now that it’s been spiffed up!

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Ava Meena February 18, 2017 at 2:10 pm

What a neat landmark! I haven’t heard of this before. I love the murals and the view – plus not having to climb up stairs to get to the top.

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Sami Veloso February 20, 2017 at 7:03 am

What great murals and beautiful city.

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Laura February 20, 2017 at 4:36 pm

What luck that it was such so clear and beautiful the day you visited! The art tour sounds very interesting, too. We’ve visited all the sites you can see from the Tower but never the tower itself; I didn’t realize you could. Thanks for setting me straight!

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