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    On Telegraph Hill's Coit Tower: 360-degree views of the city of San Francisco

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    Lluis Enric Mayans

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    San Francisco it is renowned for its ups and downs that lead to elegant residential neighborhoods in the hills, from which it is possible to enjoy excellent views over the entire bay and the urban scenery. Self Lombard Street on Russian Hill is one of the most famous viewpoints, the Coit Tower su Telegraph Hill no less: its location makes it one of the attractions to visit in San Francisco.

    La Coit Tower is high 64 meters and has stood out over the city since 1934, the year in which it was inaugurated. Surrounded by a park of almost 5 acres, Pioneer Park, the art-deco tower offers a 360 degree view over the whole city, the bay, the Golden Gate and Alcatraz. What to Expect? A remarkable panorama, a tower that encloses stories of protests and art, stairways in the green inhabited by parrots, gardens e glimpses on a city like San Francisco which, from up here, is truly more beautiful than ever!


    • Where is it?
    • How to get to the Coit Tower?
    • The history of the Coit Tower and its murals
    • The view from the San Francisco tower
    • Useful information for the visit
      • Coit Tower opening hours
      • Coit Tower prices
    • Where to sleep in the area?

    Where is it?

    The Coit Tower is located in Telegraph Hill Boulevard, 1, in the northern part of San Francisco, between North Beach and the Embarcadero. It is only a 20-minute walk from Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf. The hilltop location makes the tower prominent in the San Francisco skyline and that's what it is today one of the main attractions and one of the most visited places in the city.

    A tower surrounded by greenery Pioneer Park, the park on the top of Telegraph Hill, was inaugurated in 1876 to celebrate the centenary of the founding of the United States and the Declaration of Independence. In the park you can also admire one statue of Christopher Columbus donated by the Italian American community in 1957.

    In addition, Pioneer Park offers a beautiful panoramic terrace: if you don't want to climb the tower you can still look out and enjoy San Francisco from above, even if the view is partially blocked by the trees and the flourishing vegetation that characterizes this hill. Obviously the best view is from the top of the tower and, even if the queue to go up could be long, I suggest you do not miss it by following the information you find later in the article.

    How to get to the Coit Tower?

    You can reach Coit Tower by car, bus or on foot:

    • by bus: Coit Tower is easily accessible by bus. You can take the line Muni 39 Coit Tower dal Fisherman’s Wharf o da Washington Square Park.
    • walking: if the idea of ​​doing a bit of effort on foot doesn't scare you, this is the solution I recommend! You can do one nice panoramic walk uphill, along the east side of the hill, using the stairs of Filbert Street and passing the Grace Marchant Garden, or using the stairs of Greenwich St. Both routes, both the Filbert Street and Greenwich Street steps, offer interesting glimpses of the wells manicured private gardens, so if your walking itinerary foresees it, you could go up on one side and go down on the other. If you want to last less fatigue, on the west side of the same 2 roads (from the North Beach area) there are 2 more comfortable and less demanding accesses. Here in detail where to find all the accesses:
      • i Filbert Steps they start at the intersection of Sansome Street and Filbert Street, near Levi's Plaza.
      • i Greenwich Steps depart from Greenwich Street, one block north, also at the intersection with Sansome Street.
      • West access on Filbert Street: take the intersection of Filbert Street and Kerny Street and will save you much of the climb.
      • access from the west on Greenwich Street: take the end of the road and it is the most agile way.
    • by car: assuming that moving around San Francisco using the car is never a good idea, I point out that along the winding Telegraph Hill Boulevard you will reach the top of the hill. Personally, I don't recommend you do it, because parking spaces in the square in front of the tower are limited.
    An Unusual Soundtrack Have you decided to climb the steps to the tower? If you are lucky you may see, and above all hear, the famous Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, a flock of parrots that since 1990 has decided to settle permanently on this hill.

    The history of the Coit Tower and its murals

    The name of the tower derives from an eclectic lady who lived between 1843 and 1929: Lillie Hitchcock Coit. Famous for her disguises as a man, for gambling and for the passion and respect she had for the work of firefighters, left a whopping $ 125,000 in donation to beautify the city he loved so much. Lillie Hitchcock Coit is now the patron saint of San Francisco firefighters and there are two monuments dedicated to her: a statue of three firefighters rescuing a woman, and the Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill.

    The construction of the tower in his name took 5 years and its inauguration took place in the autumn of 1934, some months later than expected. The opening of the tower to the public aroused not a few controversies, and not just because the financier was an eccentric character to say the least. The US Government Public Works of Art Project and the director of the Legion of Honor Museum Dr. Walter Heil, in fact, decided to commission 26 artists and their assistants to creation of frescoes to embellish the inside of the tower.

    But when, at the beginning of 1934, the strikes of the longshoremen of San Francisco began and the commission that sponsored the Rockefeller Center censored and destroyed the work of Diego Rivera Man at the Crossroads because it was considered too 'left', even the murals of the Coit Tower they became the subject of political controversies: some of them were even repainted, while others retained in spite of everything elements considered at the time of opposition and protest.

    Most of the murals you will see in Coit Tower have the theme of Great Depression, the crisis of '29, poverty and social differences: there was no lack of criticism of the government, especially from the poorest classes. The Coit Tower with its 'subversive' murals is therefore not only a city monument, but also one important historical testimony of the period in which it was built.

    The view from the San Francisco tower

    Useful information for the visit

    Below are opening hours and cost of tickets for the Coit Tower.

    Coit Tower opening hours

    - Coit Tower opening hours on Telegraph Hill are:

    • from 10am to 00pm from April to October
    • from 10am to 00pm from November to March

    The only way to climb the tower is via lift, but remember that the last admission ticket is sold for the 17:30 pm climb in the summer and 16:30 pm in the winter, so I recommend that you arrive at least one hour before closing. On Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's the tower it is not open to the public.

    Coit Tower prices

    Here is the price of the tickets for the tower:

    • dollars 9 for adults
    • dollars 6 for the elderly over 62 and for children between 12 and 17 years
    • dollars 2 for children from 5 to 11 years.
    • Children under 5 do not pay

    You can book a 30-40 minute tour in English to discover the murals from the XNUMXs that adorn the tower. The full tour costs 8 dollars per person, while the limited tour to the second floor of the tower it costs 5 dollars.

    Where to sleep in the area?

    There is no shortage of sleeping options on this side of San Francisco - you can choose to sleep in the residential neighborhoods around Lombard Street or find accommodation in the lively Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood. Alternatively, you can choose to save some money by finding a hotel in Chinatown. Below you will find an article where the best neighborhoods to sleep in San Francisco.

    Advice on where to sleep in San Francisco


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