National Register of Historic Places in San Francisco
In January 1934, after receiving funds from the Civil Works Administration, artists transformed the interior of Coit Tower into a gallery of frescos and murals, the first and largest Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) in the United States. Other large PWAP projects in San Francisco were undertaken at the Rincon Annex Post Office and the Beach Chalet.
The Coit Tower murals possess exceptional value in interpreting the themes of the Great Depression and New Deal idealism and in showcasing the work of twenty-five of the region’s finest artists, including four women. The murals, influenced by Diego Rivera and painted in the American Social Realism style, depict life in San Francisco and rural California.
A wing depicts industrial production and science. A wing depicts San Francisco food production. A wing depicts life in The City. The stairwell, designed by San Francisco artist Lucian Labaudt, depicts busy downtown scenes of Powell Street in 1934 using familiar faces.
The upstairs was painted by the Ivory Tower Group of the Regionalists faction, artists who desired to preserve the sentimental illusion of an isolated American purity with a nationalistic streak, even as the fabric of the nation was tattered by the protracted Great Depression.
Adapted from the NRHP Nomination Form submitted in 2007 and updated in 2018.
Coit Tower is also San Francisco Landmark 165.