While napaman is a Napa-centric website, every once in a while a guy’s gotta get out of town, blow off some steam... and get high.
My idea of getting high is to visit a tall, landmark building, enabling me to capture sweeping, panoramic shots of the skyline.
The best place to do this in San Francisco is one of the city’s top tourist sites, Coit Tower, on the peak of Telegraph Hill.
View from the front
View from the back
Built in 1933 with funds bequeathed to the city by Lillie Hitchcock Coit, the unpainted, reinforced concrete tower with fluted vertical sides, is a monument to Art Deco.
The interior of the tower houses America’s very first publicly funded art project; 27 different artists were hired with public funds to paint huge murals, which wrap around the interior of the ground floor lobby.
Murals even sweep up a hidden stairwell toward the top, but these stairs today are off limits to the public.
The only way to reach for the stars now is via a slow-moving elevator.
The line-up for the elevator to the top of the tower forms the second the doors open at 10 am. As of Sept. 1, the price of the up-and-down ride is $8. Well worth it to catch the panoramic views above.
The murals were funded by the Public Works of Art Project, the first New Deal federal employment program for artists in America.
Most of the muralists were faculty and students of the California School of Fine Arts.
Being young and idealistic, many of the artists were leftists, some even outright Marxists. All were asked to depict life in California during the Depression.
Themes included were work in the countryside, and work in the city; many of the artists stressed the imperative of racial equality.
The murals are glorious works of art, commanding a visitor’s time to be able to absorb all the detail.
A small corner of Lucien Labaudt’s large mural depicts Eleanor Roosevelt who was National Director of the Public Works of Art Project (WPAP).
The following shots will give you an idea of the themes and detail of the oversized murals.
The dynamic duo who welcome more than 500,000 visitors a year to Coit Tower:
On the left, Terry Grimm, who operates the facility; on the right, Davy Crockett (Yes! America’s original Davy Crockett is a distant relative...), who is tour director of the tower.
To give an idea of how large the murals are, tower operator Terry Grimm stands before one of the ground floor panels.
One you’ve ridden the rickety elevator to the top, you have access to breathtaking, 360-degree views of San Francisco and the Bay.
On a clear day, there isn’t a better view of the city and Bay from anywhere.
From this perch, you can see all the other top tourist sites – The Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz, and the Embarcadero leading to Pier 39.
Talk about a birds’ eye-view!
The thing I find strange is that there is no closure atop the tower, no roof!
A 32-foot high wall vaults over the highest, last platform on which one can stand.
There’s a strange resemblance to Stonehenge here, or some druidic temple, the way the sunlight and open-air top interact.
Want to visit Coit Tower? It’s open seven days a week, 10 to 6 pm from May through October, and 10 to 5 pm, November through April.
Check the website for details: