Coit Tower in San Francisco is a tourist must-see when visiting that city. The view from the top of Telegraph Hill is amazing. To me, the best part of the tower is the mural-filled lobby, which is a kind of time capsule of California life and culture around 1933, as interpreted by the 26 artists who contributed to this WPA project.
Above, the front page of the Chronicle announces the completion of the murals. Notice the headline that says “Artists Work in Harmony.” There are lots of details like this in the murals that show a good deal of editorializing, which make examining the murals such a fascinating experience. Here is a nonlinear, non-comprehensive look at the murals.
Look, Linotype operators do their thing:
The various newspaper headlines are probably the most telling elements [see “Destruction of Rivera Fresco”]:
City life is dangerous:
This man is photographing a gigantic boy:
We didn’t go up to the top of the tower. Instead, we took a free City Guides tour of the murals in the lobby. Our guide was a first-timer and didn’t offer much insight beyond the already-informative didactics [you can enter the lobby and view the murals for free anytime the tower is open]. However, he took us up the stairs to the second floor, which is not normally open to the public:
On the second floor is a small room with these murals devoted to drawing room culture, painted in a very different style, and done on wallpaper, not as frescoes. The woman who painted this part was the wife of the Coit Tower architect, who did not want to follow the themes established for the mural project, and also did not want to come here and paint in person:
City Guides offers a ton of guided tours of varied SF sights. Some offer glimpses into areas not open to the public, like this one did. And they’re all free! If you do decide to check out Coit Tower, don’t forget the wild parrots of Telegraph Hill. And, if you get thirsty, you can get your drinking water from a fountain made in Cincinnati: