Coit Tower, also known as the Lillian Coit Memorial Tower, is a 210-foot (64 m) tower in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, California. The tower, in the city's Pioneer Park, was built in 1933 using Lillie Hitchcock Coit's bequest to beautify the city of San Francisco; at her death in 1929 Coit left one-third of her estate to the city for civic beautification. The tower was proposed in 1931 as an appropriate use of Coit's gift.
The art deco tower, built of unpainted reinforced concrete, was designed by architects Arthur Brown, Jr. and Henry Howard, with fresco murals by 27 different on-site artists and their numerous assistants, plus two additional paintings installed after creation off-site. Although an apocryphal story claims that the tower was designed to resemble a fire hose nozzle due Coit's affinity with the San Francisco firefighters of the Day, the resemblance is coincidental.
Brown's competition design envisioned a restaurant in the tower, which was changed to an exhibition area in the final version. The design uses three nesting concrete cylinders, the outermost a tapering fluted 180-foot (55 m) shaft that supports the viewing platform. An intermediate shaft contains a stairway, and an inner shaft houses the elevator. The observation deck is 32 feet (9.8 m) below the top, with an arcade and skylights above it. A rotunda at the base houses display space and a gift shop.
Getting To Coit Tower
Due to the extreme topography, the parking lot at the top of the hill is only accessible by one road, Telegraph Hill Boulevard via Lombard Street. Because Coit Tower is such a popular tourist attraction, at peak times, the street can be backed up and the wait for parking to open up can be long. The alternatives to driving and parking are to come by bus or to walk. It is a short bus ride to Coit Tower from the Fisherman's Wharf area or from Washington Square in North Beach on the #39 bus which leaves every 20 minutes.
A system of wooden and concrete stairs and footpaths, called the Filbert Steps, lead to the top of the hill from various directions, making a steep but direct climb possible. Telegraph Hill Boulevard connects with Lombard Street, another popular tourist attraction.