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“"Sunset View"”
Review of Coit Tower

Coit Tower
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Viator Exclusive: San Francisco Hop-on Hop-off Plus Bike & Bay Cruise
Ranked #33 of 535 things to do in San Francisco
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Owner description: Monument tower overlooking San Francisco. Tower includes murals from 1934 showing California business, agriculture and home life of the period. 360 Degree viewing platform at top of 212 ft tower.
Level Contributor
293 reviews
38 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 83 helpful votes
“"Sunset View"”
Reviewed July 11, 2014

We did go up to the top of Coit Tower for a view of the city at sunset.
We did have a fairly nice few of the city at sunset. This time we were able to drive up and park the car. We noticed lots of couples taking in the sights as well.
I enjoy walking to the top of Coit Tower on a clear day. If in San Francisco, be sure to stop by this remarkable landmark. It is worth the walk up the steps.

Visited March 2014
Thank multimom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Malvern, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
98 reviews
45 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
“Very cool views”
Reviewed July 8, 2014

We rented an apt for the week while we vacationed in San Fran and this place was two streets up. It is very steep but worth the walk, lets face it this whole city is nothing but steep hills and walking you get use to it and I am in means in good shape. We watched fireworks on the 4th of July from here though half covered by fog was pretty cool. You can see Alcatraz and even the Golden Gate on a really clear day from here. I think it's worth it even if the way up sucks!!

Visited July 2014
Thank Monica D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York, NY
Level Contributor
118 reviews
53 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“Very cool”
Reviewed July 8, 2014

Really cool spot, with sweeping views of SF - The city & Bay. We climbed the steps from embarcadero - a daunting task. We're all 28 in relatively good shape - and it was intense (just like the circus fire). There's a parking lot on the city side, Lombard St maybe? The tower lets you view the lobby for free (and all the cool murals), but for a tour and to go to the top, you have to pay.

Visited June 2014
Thank TomSueNY
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tracy, California
Level Contributor
210 reviews
125 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 208 helpful votes
“"Worth the view of the city"”
Reviewed July 8, 2014

For the best views of San Francisco, this is the place to be. I’ve taken some great pictures here over the years, both at night (not in the tower because it shuts down at night) and during the day. There have also been those days where I skipped coming here altogether because the “fog” was so thick but that never stopped the tourists from coming.

There is only one road into this place, which is Telegraph Hill Boulevard via Lombard Street. Cars can be backed up waiting for spots to open during peak times. I usually find a spot down the street and walk up.

Coming here during the weekends is filled with nothing but tourists and it can be a challenge just to try and find a parking spot, “anywhere.” I usually make it a habit visit this place during the weekdays where it’s still crowded, but nowhere near the weekend crowds, especially on a nice days.

Inside this tower are murals created by 26 artists during the depression era’s of the 1930’s. The murals depict the struggles of the working class during that period in time.

Artists paintings from the first floor who were “Communist Party Members” painted murals of striking workers of the Depression era. Paintings from the second floor were artists not affiliated with the Communist Party and their murals reflected scenes of leisure life during that time period.

My favorite mural is that from Victor Arnautoff’s “City Life” which shows a crowd scene in downtown San Francisco. It shows an accident in the background with someone being robbed and a Postman picking up mail. It shows a diverse mixture of people that include, blue collar workers, navy sailors, and longshoremen as they seem to be in a hurry in getting to somewhere.

Coit Tower has an observation tower and for a fee, your packed into a small old time elevator “like sardines” until you reach the top floor. I also remembered climbing the stairs years ago before it was closed and admired the murals on the way up, but make no mistake, by the time you reach the top, you’re winded, or maybe that’s just me! A friend of mine told me that the stairwell access has been closed.

Anyway, the elevator ride is worth it because when you exit you’re treated to this spectacular view of the city in all its glory. I usually bring my binoculars with me to take in all the views. Of course this isn’t possible on those “foggy days.” You can admire the Bay Bridge, downtown San Francisco, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, Angel Island, Treasure Island, and of course, the Golden Gate Bridge.

Like other reviews I’ve posted for “YELP,” anytime I come into San Francisco, I “always carry a jacket or sweater” and coming here is a perfect example of that because at the top of Coit Tower it’s downright cold!

Here is something about this tower you may not have known”
• The tower took a year to build (1932 – 1933), as a memorial to volunteer firemen who perished in the city’s five major fires.
• Coit Tower was designated a National Historic Site on January 2008.
• The tower is constructed out of 3 concrete cylinders, one inside the other.
• The gift shop at the tower used to be a broom closet
• Space for the murals was allotted to 26 participating San Francisco artists on the basis of their reputations. Well know artists worked on 10’ x 36’ sections while lesser known artists received a smaller 10’ x 4’ sections.
• Coit Tower was featured in the 1998 film, Doctor Doolittle.

Here is the story of how the tower came to be;

In 1851, and at the age of 15, Elizabeth Wyche “Lillie” Hitchcock Coit began her famous career with Knickerbocker Engine Company No. 5. when she assisted fire fighters who were shorthanded at a fire and became an overnight sensation. She was frequently seen atop a Knickerbocker No. 5 Engine in parades and was, literally, the patroness of all the firemen.

In October, 1863, she was elected an honorary member and always wore the numeral (5) as an ornament with all her costumes, along with the gold badge she was presented with.

She would later marry “Howard Coit,” who was worked at the San Francisco Stock and Bond Exchange. She traveled the world and was a notable figure at the court of Napoleon III and the maharaja of India.

Mrs. Coit died in July, 1929, at the age of 86 and left a third of her fortune to the city. The executors of her will eventually settled on erecting a memorial tower on top of Telegraph Hill in her honor and also as a tribute to San Francisco’s fire fighters in 1933.

A second memorial honoring Mrs. Coit was unveiled in Washington Square in December, 1933 of a sculptured block representing a life-sized group of 3 firemen with one of them carrying a woman in his arms.

Legend has it that “Coit Tower” resembles a fire hose nozzle, although, Architects, Arthur Brown, Jr. and Henry Howard denied it.

TIP: Save yourself some headaches and park down the hill and walk up! It’s worth the climb; you get your exercise along with some great photos!

Visited December 2013
1 Thank Holdtheair
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
31 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Yes, the stairs are worth it”
Reviewed July 7, 2014

If you are interested in getting a bit of exercise (so you can work up an appetite) this is a great walk from Union Square. Make no mistake, it is a hike -- the last bit is very steep either by steps or improbably steep sidewalk. But the views are worth it, and that is without even going up to the top of the tower. The highlight for me was the amazing collection of murals at the base of the tower. They were created in the 1930s and are amazingly insightful into that time period in the US. You may find that you forget you are not in an art museum.

For an even better view of the bay head down Greenwich "Street" -- this is a very steep set of stairs that leads from the tower down to Sansome St. on the bay side. It is sign posted like a normal street. It is not for the week kneed. Of course, coming up to the tower from this direction is even more challenging!

Visited July 2014
Thank PhiAE01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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