Conventional wisdom holds that this iconic monument is shaped like a fire-hose nozzle. It is not, at least not by design. The... More
Conventional wisdom holds that this iconic monument is shaped like a fire-hose nozzle. It is not, at least not by design. The tower is the gift of Lilly Hitchcock Coit, an eccentric heiress who managed to stand out in a city that teems with eccentricity. Lilly's particular passion was for the San Francisco Fire Department. So, when the money she left in her will for the city's beautification was used to construct the art deco tower on Telegraph Hill in 1932, people made assumptions. The view from here is one of the most impressive in San Francisco, taking in the Bay, two bridges, and the Marin Headlands. Inside, the first floor is decorated with excellent murals, commissioned in 1933, that depict San Francisco's history. Note that there is a small fee to ride the elevator up to the top of the tower, and the tower closes early in the winter. Check the website for details.
This is the best spot to see San Francisco at night. The tower itself is closed at night but you can see just as much from the observation deck. You can see almost all of San Francisco's landmarks from there. And if you get there on a foggy night you will hear the Golden Gate fog horns.
Coit Tower is a must-see, especially if you've never seen San Francisco from an aerial view. The view is excellent and the murals are interesting, but don't expect to be entertained for a whole afternoon. A trip up to the top of the tower and a walk around the base to see the murals won't take more than an hour or two, so I would recommend visiting Coit Tower on a day where you are planning to do something else in the area.