Coit Tower in San Francisco

A while ago I published a blog post about San Francisco's newest and soon-to-be-tallest building and followed that up with a post about an iconic building:

In addition to the Salesforce Building and Transamerica Pyramid, when I walk from the Autodesk One Market office to our Pier 9 workshop, I get a glimpse of the Coit Tower.

View of Coit Tower from Autodesk Pier 9 Office

Like I did for the Transamerica Pyramid, using Wikipedia as a resource (copied and rearranged info below), here is what I learned about the Coit Tower.



  • Coit Tower, also known as the Lillian Coit Memorial Tower, is located in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, California.
  • At her death in 1929, Lillie Hitchcock Coit left one-third ($118,000) of her estate to the city for civic beautification.
  • The tower was proposed in 1931 as an appropriate use of Coit's gift.
  • An additional $7,000 in city funds were appropriated, and a design competition was held, and the winners were architects Arthur Brown, Jr. and Henry Howard.
  • Although San Francisco folklore claims that the tower was designed to resemble a fire hose nozzle due to Coit's affinity with the San Francisco firefighters of the day, the resemblance is coincidental. This is probably based on the true fact that Lillie Hitchcock Coit loved to chase fires in the early days of the city's history.
  • The original design envisioned a restaurant in the tower, but that was changed to an exhibition area in the final version.
  • The art deco tower, built of unpainted reinforced concrete, is a 210 feet tall.
  • The design includes three nesting concrete cylinders, the outermost a tapering fluted 180-foot shaft that supports a viewing platform.
  • An intermediate shaft contains a stairway, and an inner shaft houses the elevator.


  • The tower, in the city's Pioneer Park, was built in 1933.
  • The San Francisco County Board of Supervisors proposed that Coit's bequest be used for a road at Lake Merced, but this proposal brought disapproval from the estate's executors, who expressed a desire that the county find ways and means of expending this money on a memorial that in itself would be an entity and not a unit of public development.
  • Fresco murals by 27 different on-site artists and their numerous assistants, plus two additional paintings, were installed after creation off-site. The Coit Tower murals were done under the auspices of the Public Works of Art Project, the first of the New Deal federal employment programs for artists.


  • Coit Tower was listed as a San Francisco Designated Landmark in 1984 and on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.
  • The observation deck is 32 feet below the top, with an arcade and skylights above it.
  • A rotunda at the base houses display space and a gift shop.
  • Most of the murals are open for public viewing without charge during open hours, although there are ongoing negotiations by the Recreation and Parks Department of San Francisco to begin charging visitors a fee to enter the mural rotunda.
  • The murals in the spiral stairway, normally closed to the public, are open for viewing through tours.

It's nice that I get to stroll near a little bit of San Francisco history every day.

A tower is alive in the lab.