Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Towering Over San Francisco

In 1850, a pole with movable arms on top of the San Francisco hill was used as a signaling station. The wooden arms were adjusted to signal the incoming of ships. In 1853, it was replaced by an electric telegraph station, hence the hill's name--Telegraph Hill.

Coit Tower is built on top of the 285 foot high Telegraph Hill, which is situated between Fisherman's Wharf and the Financial District. A statue of Christopher Columbus overlooking Alcatraz Island and San Francisco Bay stands in front of the tower.

During our earlier trips into San Francisco, we had not had a chance to visit Coit Tower. So when cousin Raina and her husband Jess asked, we took them up on their willingness to lead us on a tour of this landmark.

From the base of the Tower, we could see other major attractions of the city. For example, Saints Peter and Paul Church, a Roman Catholic Church in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood, is located (somewhat ironically) at 666 Filbert Street.

We also got a long-range view of Lombard Street and a number of cars slowly making their way down the winding, block-long section.

And from this position atop Telegraph Hill, we could see a portion of Golden Gate Bridge appearing much nearer the city.

Upon entering the Tower, we saw a number of murals, most of them depicting life in California during the Great Depression. Shown below is California Industrial Scenes, by John Langley Howard, one of the 25 different painters who worked on one of the New Deal projects aimed at creating as many jobs as possible for the countless unem-

Howard's work depicts striking miners of various ethnicity marching together in worker solidarity with one carrying a leftist paper. The mural also includes a scene with depression era tent dwellers washing their clothes and panning for gold in the river below a new hydroelectric plant as chauffeur-driven rich people watch.

We took the elevator and then 37 steps to the top of the Tower, where we were rewarded with a 360-degree view of the city. The photos begin with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the proceed in a counterclockwise fashion.

Coit Tower was built in 1933 with funds from Lillie Hitchcock Coit. She was an eccentric personality who was best known for her support of the local firemen. When she died, she left one third of her fortune for the beautification of the city. The result was the Coit Tower, which is both a memorial for Lillie Hitchcock Coit and for the San Francisco firemen.

The tower’s design is reminiscent of a fire hose nozzle—though architects Arthur Brown, Jr. and Henry Howard always denied that it was their intent—and was quite controversial.

The Bay Bridge is shown in this photo.

Alcatraz, in the middle of San Fransicso Bay, is shown here.

Looking at the office buildings grouped together downtown produced this complex view.

Sailboats, pleasure craft, tour boats, and a ferry produced this pattern of activity.

What a way to (over)see San Francisco.

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