Called "vaguely phallic" by Tyne Daly's character in the Dirty Harry movie The Enforcer, Coit Tower has been a unique symbol of San Francisco since the 1930s. Set in the northeast part of San Francisco, you see the 210-foot concrete tower rising like a Roman column on Telegraph Hill from many parts of the city. You can view the breadth of the city and the Bay from atop the tower on a clear day.
Coit Tower was finished in 1933 on land bequeathed to the city by Lillie Hitchcock Coit, an eccentric, wealthy woman who was, among other things, a volunteer firefighter. The surrounding area is called Pioneer Park, one of the first dedicated public parks in San Francisco. It was bought in 1876 by local businessmen to protect the hill from development. For unclear reasons, there is also a large statue of Christopher Columbus out front.
Before taking the elevator to the top for panoramic views, stop to enjoy the spectacularly detailed murals featured inside the base. These labor-themed murals were created by leading San Francisco artists in the 1930s. The paintings were part of the Public Works Art Project during the Great Depression. Many of the murals incorporated Diego Rivera-style leftist themes, such as a Labor March and Karl Marx's Das Kapital. Others depict everyday scenes from San Francisco neighborhoods. If you visit the city on a Saturday, catch a free tour of the inside staircase murals as part of the SF Saturday City Guides.
While it is possible to drive to the top, a less congested and more serene -- yet more challenging -- way to get up is to hike up the series of stairs and paths. After your visit, walk down the hill to the east along a pleasant path called Greenwich Steps through local resident gardens and thick vegetation.
- 10am to 5pm daily
- Note: Not wheelchair accessible
- Murals in lower level: Free
- Entrance to viewing deck: $5
- Seniors 65+: $3.50
- Children 6-12: $2
- Children under 6: Free
- Metro Stop:
- Muni bus No. 39, from Washington Square
- Location: 1 Telegraph Hill Blvd., San Francisco, CA
- Phone: 415-362-0808
- Website: sfrecpark.org