Coit Tower and Telegraph Hill

Coit Tower and Telegraph Hill

Enjoy panoramic views of the San Francisco skyline! At the lofty height of 210 feet (64 meters), Coit Tower offers unobstructed views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, Angel Island, the Bay Bridge, and the financial district of San Francisco.

Coit Tower History

Constructed between 1932 and 1933, Coit Tower was built as a tribute to Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a wealthy socialite and patron of San Francisco’s volunteer firefighters. Lillie’s love for the city and its firefighters led her to bequeath a third of her fortune to the city for beautification projects, resulting in the construction of Coit Tower and a firefighter sculpture in North Beach’s Washington Square. Despite popular belief, the tower’s design, resembling a fire hose nozzle, was coincidental. The tower is a testament to Coit’s legacy, standing as a proud beacon of San Francisco’s enduring spirit.

 

Did you know? Coit Tower’s interior is adorned with murals by 26 artists from the Depression era, funded by the Public Works Project under the New Deal, showcasing scenes of daily life and societal critiques.

Telegraph Hill History

Telegraph Hill, one of San Francisco’s most picturesque neighborhoods, boasts a rich history dating back to the early 19th century. Its name originates from the maritime semaphore telegraph system, established in 1849, which signaled the nature of incoming ships to the city, providing valuable information to residents and merchants about the goods arriving at the port.

Over the years, Telegraph Hill transformed from its early use as a signaling point to a residential area known for its steep streets and beautiful gardens. In the 1920s and 1930s, it became a haven for artists and writers drawn to its bohemian atmosphere and breathtaking views of the San Francisco Bay and the city.

The construction of Coit Tower in 1933, atop Telegraph Hill, further cemented the area’s iconic status. The tower was built with funds bequeathed by Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a patron of the city’s firefighters, and is adorned with murals depicting California life during the Great Depression.

Coit Tower, perched atop Telegraph Hill
Coit Tower, perched atop Telegraph Hill

Fun Fact: Coit Tower was once closed to remove a Communist hammer and sickle from one of the murals, highlighting the political sensitivities of the time.

 

Today

Coit Tower today is a beloved landmark, drawing visitors for its stunning views and historical significance. The tower offers a glimpse into 1930s America through its preserved frescoes, which depict various aspects of life and politics during the Depression era. Despite controversies over their content, these murals remain a powerful expression of artistic and political expression from that time.

Not to be Missed

  • Fresco Murals: The tower’s interior walls are a canvas for Depression-era frescoes, a must-see for art and history enthusiasts.
  • Views from the Top: For an $8 fee, visitors can ride the elevator to the tower’s summit, where small windows frame unparalleled views of San Francisco’s skyline, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz.

 

Coit Tower, perched atop Telegraph Hill
Coit Tower, perched atop Telegraph Hill

Getting There

Coit Tower:

  • Location: 1 Telegraph Hill Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94133
  • Website: Visit Coit Tower
  • Hours: Open daily; check the website for current hours and ticket prices.

Nature and Recreation

Surrounding Coit Tower, Telegraph Hill offers the Filbert Steps and Greenwich Steps for those seeking a scenic hike amidst lush gardens and unique San Francisco homes, providing a peaceful retreat from the bustling city below.

In Popular Culture

Coit Tower has made appearances in several films and books, symbolizing San Francisco’s adventurous spirit and serving as a picturesque backdrop that captures the essence of the city.

Fun Fact: The tower’s stairs were once open for visitors to climb, but now an elevator ride offers a quick ascent to the top for those eager to soak in the views.

 

Night View of Bay Bridge and Coit Tower from San Francisco
Night View of Bay Bridge and Coit Tower from San Francisco

Why You Should Visit

Coit Tower is more than just an observation point; it’s a historical monument that celebrates San Francisco’s past, from its homage to volunteer firefighters to its role as a canvas for political and social commentary during the Depression era. Its panoramic views, combined with the artistic and historical richness inside, make Coit Tower a must-visit for anyone exploring the heart and soul of San Francisco.

Visitors are encouraged to ascend Telegraph Hill via the Filbert and Greenwich Steps, enjoying the lush gardens and unique architecture along the way. Whether you’re a history buff, art lover, or simply in search of stunning city views, Coit Tower offers a unique glimpse into the narrative of San Francisco, celebrating its resilience, beauty, and community spirit. It stands as a testament to the city’s ability to inspire and mesmerize, making it an essential stop for anyone looking to experience the true essence of San Francisco.

 
 
 

Nearby Points of Interest

and are a 15-minute walk away.
Embarcadero Street is a ten-minute walk down the steep side of Telegraph Hill, where visitors can catch the F line to travel up and down the street to reach , Pier 39, or the Ferry Building.
 
 is a short jaunt from Coit Tower. This world-famous street is a must-see for every visitor!
 
From the Crooked Street, and Pier 39 are only a short walk away.
 
NOTE: On our Lucky Tuk Tuk Night tour (due to time constraints) guests do not ride the elevator to the top of Coit Tower. Great views are available from the viewing areas on Telegraph Hill at the base of the tower.

can be featured on these tours :

City Tour
Lucky Tuk Tuk Sightseeing Tours at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

Lucky Tuk Tuk City Tour

From$380
Explore beautiful San Francisco in your own private, electric Tuk Tuk! Perfect for families and groups. A personal guide for your party commandeers this modern-day rickshaw at a pace that’s right for you!
Evening Tour
Night View of Bay Bridge and Coit Tower from San Francisco

Night Private Charter San Francisco Lights Tour

From$380
Explore San Francisco at night in a cozy, electric Tuk Tuk! Get up close to the glittering lights and go where buses don’t dare in this modern-day rickshaw. Live commentary included!

Jump Aboard these Other Fun Tours and Rentals to Explore San Francisco

 
Buckle in and explore the city with an entertaining driving tour of or a trip over the Golden Gate Bridge to walk among the .
San Francisco Jeep Tours will drive you and up to 6 guests in a convertible Jeep. You’ll see all the iconic sites and attractions on exclusive routes with a fun and experienced tour guide.

Book a San Francisco Tour

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