The History of Coit Tower, San Francisco

Coit Tower is a 210 foot (64 m) tower located in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood.

The tower, located in the city's Pioneer Park was built in 1933 at the bequest of Lillie Hitchcock Coit to beautify the city of San Francisco. Coit bequeathed 1/3 of her estate to the city, 'to be expended in an appropriate manner for the purpose of adding to the beauty of the city, which I have always loved.'

The art deco tower, made of unpainted, reinforced concrete, was designed by architects Arthur Brown Jr and Henry Howard, with murals by 26 different artists and numerous assistants.

The tower was not designed to resemble a fire hose nozzle, despite Coit's affinity with the San Francisco firefighters and in particular with the Knickerbocker Fire Engine Company number 5.

The town was renamed San Francisco in 1846, after it was captured by Americans during the Mexican-American War. Market St would be hailed as a popular parade route and in 1979, it became the host to a parade honoring General U.S. Grant. In 1883, it would also pay homage to gatherings of the Knights Templar and in 1886 would honor a reunion of the Grand Army of the Republic.

By 1924, Market St's hustle and bustle of those electric cars were competing with the vibrant look of a city also filling up with cars. The street car fare was 5 cents and now allowed transfers good all over the system.

Market St underwent major changes in the late 1970s and early 1980s when the Muni Metro service was moved underground in conjunction with the construction of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system.

The building names on Market St tell a fascinating story of the city's past alignment with the Southern Pacific railway; Pacific Gas and Electric, that fueled the West; Matson, the shipping company that connected San Franciscans to Hawaii and other Pacific destinations.

Market St shares the history of the Piche Railway, with the devastating earthquake, through the 1940s office boom, parades, cruise ship traffic and protests.

When all is said and done, the street provides a 100 year tour of architecture, shopping and some of the best dining anywhere.

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