We got tired walking up Gilbert Street but it’s really worth it to go up the Telegraph Hill. The view from the Coit Tower is amazing and you can have a panoramic view of the city(pics 3-4 showing Alcatraz and the city). The tower (pic 1) was built in with funds of Lillie Hitchcok Coit and it’s one of the landmarks in SF. Its height is 64 meters and although it is simple it dominates the skyline of SF because of its location atop Telegraph Hill.
Before going up we spent some time at the lobby and watched some beautiful murals (in social realism style, like Diego Rivera’s) on the walls showing scenes from daily life in 1930 (pic 2), they are considered as some of California’s best exables of depression era public art. The authorities didn’t want to open the tower to the public at first because they were afraid of the communist themes :)
First we payed the entrance fee ($5 for adults, $3 for seniors and $1,5 for small children 5-11) at the small gift shop and then we took the elevator to the top of the tower. The problem is that the glass on the windows wont allow you to have the best quality on your photos but try to admire the view anyway. The windows are very small but you can shoot some nice pics from up here but no tripod use allowed. Have in mind that you can also take nice pics from the parking lot of the tower so you can save some money. You can see the murals at the lobby without paying anyway.
The Tower is open daily and because of some steps, before and after the elevator it’s not wheelchair accessible.
Coit Tower was built in 1933 at the top of Telegraph Hill thanks to money donated to the city of San Francisco by Lillie Hitchcock Coit. Lillie Coit was known to be a bit of an eccentric figure in North Beach - among other things, she was often caught wearing pants and gambling with men at a time when both were most decidedly frowned upon! The tower bearing her name is 210 feet tall and stands at roughly 500 feet above sea level, thus providing a wonderful 360° view of the city.
The walk up to Coit Tower is quite a workout but the view at the top of Telegraph Hill is worth it - I would even suggest to those not interested in going up the tower to at least make it to the top of Telegraph Hill and enjoy the view from there. Another thing one should know about is that to go up to the observatory platform, visitors need to ride a small, old-fashioned elevator that can only take so many people at a time. Of course it's possible to tell how long it's going to take to go up by looking at the line-up, but there's no way of knowing how many people are waiting to go down - in that sense, Coit Tower can literally become a tourist trap!! So just make sure you allow enough time for your visit.
Coit Tower is open daily from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm. Admission: $4.50.
This landmark is the highest hill in San Francisco close to Downtown and Fisherman's Wharf. It's also made famous bya flock of escaped parrots that live here made famous by the documentary, "Parrots of Telegraph Hill".
Walk up to the top of Telegraph for a great city vista and bay view. You can pay $3 and ride the elevator to the observation deck of Coit Tower if you like to get a high, eye-popping 360deg view of the city.
There are some terrific murals painted on the wall inside.
My favorite way to get there is hiking the Green St. steps from the n/e side.
I don't recommend driving your car up as the parking is very limited & you end up idling in your car, wasting gas and time, waiting in line for a space to open up.
If health is an issue and you can't climb / walk up the hill, take a cab, as they can drop you so you don't have to wait to drive in and park.
This is a closeup I took of the Columbus statue and Coit Tower that everybody shoots at one time or another
The art deco tower, 210 feet (64 m) of unpainted reinforced concrete, was designed by architects Arthur Brown, Jr. and Henry Howard, was built in 1933. Inside there are murals by 26 different artists and numerous assistants, done as the first of the New Deal federal employment programs for artists. Currently it is free to enter the first floor rotunda, but there is a charge to use the elevator up to the observation deck.
The parking at the top of the hill is very limited, less than 2 dozen spaces. It is much more convenient to use the #39 bus which you can catch near Washington Square off of Columbus Avenue.
One of the prominent features of the San Francisco skyline is Coit Tower, which is perched on top of Telegraph Hill. The cylindrical concrete tower, which is kind of unattractive, was erected in 1933 and is 64 metres tall.
The steep climb up to the top of the hill, to the base of the tower is worth it, and once there is will cost you $2.50 (Sep 2008) to catch a lift to the top of the tower. The views from the top are spectacular - you can see both the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz, the downtown skyscrapers and get a good overview of crooked Lombard Street.
In some parts of the tower (including the lobby area) you will see some large, colourful murals which were created mainly by students of the Californian School of Fine Arts. They depict scenes of life in and around the city.
Coit Tower was built in 1933 on Telegraph Hill by Lillie Hitchcock Coit a local volunteer firefighter. Today, visitors walk or drive to the top of Telegraph Hill for some of the best views in the city. Despite a popular rumor, the tower was not built to resemble a fire hose (but the actual source of the design is unknown).
I strongly suggest not driving up the hill. The walk is not bad but the traffic is awful. The parking lot at the top of the hill is very small and cars sit on the driveway circling the hill and wait for hours trying to get a spot. We walked up and wandered around the base of the tower. Elevators run up the tower and you can go to the top and see the entire city. From the base, you can see much of the area and get some great views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.
On the walk down, we cut through the trees and caught sight of a couple “wild parrots” that live in the trees. Though not native to the area, the parrots are believed to be the descendants of someone’s released pets.
Coit Tower is one of my favorite stops in SF. I've been here over a dozen times and never fail to see something new. In my perspective, there are three attractions of Coit Tower, and all make it a great experience.
1 - getting there. Although you can drive, I wouldn't recommend it unless you can't walk far yourself (or don't like taking the bus - #39 goes right up there. ) I usually park around Sansome St. to the east, anywhere I can find a parking spot, and walk up the Filbert or Greenwich steps. It isn't the easiest climb, but there are good views all the way up, and you can walk past all the houses and apartments and think about what good physical shape the residents must be in. For the way down, walk down the west side facing Russian Hill, down to Grant Street and North Beach.
2 - Views from the top of the hill. From here you can see both the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge, as well as Alcatraz, Angel Island, Treasure Island and Marin County to the north and Oakland and the East Bay. You can pay to go to the top of the tower, but I wouldn't bother if there is a line to get in the elevator.
3 - The murals. This is my favorite part of the whole trip. Inside are 19 murals created during the depression of the 1930s that show life and politics of the time. The artists were commissioned by the US government, and the left leaning politics depicted were controversial. Along with historical scenes like panning for gold, you will see the socialist-realist style evident in the images of workers on the farms, industry and services. In one corner there is a man pulling out Marx's "Das Capital" from a bookshelf. There's also cops, pickpockets, and timely events shown. Note the sign for the Oakland Ferry that is shown - evidence that the bridges weren't build yet. Each scene has wonderful details that you will discover on subsequent visits.
(Note - if you like the murals as much as I do, try to get to the Beach Chalet at the far end of Golden Gate park. Look at the walls on the first floor. Free.)
Something a little unusual is to spend some time visiting Coit Tower (this isn't the unusual part), then to walk down the meandering path of Filbert Street, enjoying the gardens and maybe getting a glimpse of the ferral parrots in the area. The problem, of course, is that you'll have to walk back up to get your car :-( ~ but that might kill the 3 hours or so that you have.
Another idea is to visit the Ferry Building Marketplace on the Embarcadero. Lots of great shops and eating at the MarketBar is always a pleasure!
If you want a really historic restaurant for lunch (with great seafood!), try Tadich Grill on California Street is the oldest restaurant in the West and a San Francisco insider icon.
Hope this helps!
This 210 ft reinforced concrete tower was built in 1933 at the top of Telegraph Hill.
An elevator takes you up to the viewing platform & from there you get spectacular views of the North Bay Area.
At night the tower is floodlit and can be seen from most parts of the city.
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