The Knitting Nurse

Rambles and Travels

Things I Like About San Francisco – Coit Tower

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If I were truly a city girl, I’d live in San Francisco.  A fascinating place, each trip I take in (not enough) I find more that pleases/fascinates me.  Off the top of my head:  Diversity.  Constant movement.  Water.  Old buildings.  Art (organized into museums, not so organized on the sides of buildings.)  Bridges.  Trees.  Parks.  Sure I love Denver but there I feel average and similar to most every person I pass on the sidewalk.  Here, in SF, not sure how to explain it, it’s unlike anywhere else I’ve been.  Diverse. I think that’s the biggie.

Marin county, where I am now, wouldn’t be a bad place to call home.   The rolling hills, oaks, beaches, farms, the ocean, it’s all grown on me. I suspect I’m destined to someday enjoy multiple places as “home.”  Perhaps I should start playing the lottery?

This week I took a quick trip to SF to one of my fave yarn shops, Imagiknit in the Castro District.   Then, off to Coit  Tower.  I’ve been wanting to see this on all past trips to SF, including my time here in 2008 and 2009 to no avail.  Inside it, telling murals.

Stopped to see Lombard St, the World’s Crookedest St.  And it must be.  But the throngs of tourists milling about drove me crazy so I didn’t stay long.

Hills in that part of town are steep:



Built in 1933, the 210′ unpainted concrete tower was a gift from a woman named Lillie Hitchcock Coit. She gave 1/3 of her estate to the city to fund its building.  Art Deco in style, rumor has it she had a thing for firemen and wanted it to look like a phallic firehose nozzle.  I mean hey, my heart goes pitter patter with the passing of a truck filled with uniformed men.

Not the case, I found.

Lillie, as a teen, observed the volunteers of Knickerbocker Engine Co. 5 failing at an attempt to save.  She reputedly threw her school books down, gathered neighbors, and all helped out.  Made an honorary firefighter, she often rode along with them in parades.

Lillie defied social norms. From what I’ve read she (and this is in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s) smoked cigars, wore trousers (gasp!) and occasionally dressed as a man to enter male-only gambling establishments.

She must have ruffled some feathers.

The tower stands on Telegraph Hill.  The views from there are outstanding.

Inside, murals were painted for the New Deal Public Works Project.  Many students were involved.  Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo joined as well.  What struck me was the depth of political and social statements in them.  What a fascinating time the depression must have been. Wish I could time travel. Most are painted in fresco style, some were on canvas.  I walked around numerous times.  There is much to see and little bits hidden within.

The poor and destitute panning for gold, in front of a dam, with the rich looking on above them.  Note the broken down car. There’s a strip mine to the left not shown:


Note the gun:

Rivera’s infamous mural in the NY Rockefeller Center was destroyed for including images of Lenin.  Coit Tower muralists protested as picketers and via paint:

An ethnically diverse Labor march.  I’m drawn to their faces:

CA agriculture:

Wit abounds:

When finished I caught the sun starting to set and headed for the spot where the GG bridge joins the Marin Headlands in the back.  Conzelman Road snakes along and affords striking views.  There, I ended the night by watching the city lights snap on and shimmer.  Its a sight I’ve been frequenting.

One other thing I love about the city.

One thought on “Things I Like About San Francisco – Coit Tower

  1. Pingback: Getting Skunked – The Boat-Ride of a Lifetime – Wrapping Up CA and Starting a New Alaskan Chapter (Part 2 of ?) « (Nomadic) Knitting Nurse

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