National Register of Historic Places in San Francisco

National Register #07001468: Coit Memorial Tower Coit Tower During Americas Cup Races
13 September 2012
Coit Tower Mural: California Agricultural Industry by Gordon Longdon Mural in Coit Tower
California (Left Panel) by Maxine Albro
22 June 2003
Coit Tower Mural: California Agricultural Industry by Gordon Longdon Mural in Coit Tower
California (Right Panel) by Maxine Albro
22 June 2003
(Click Photos to Zoom)
National Register #07001468
Coit Tower
1 Telegraph Hill Boulevard
Built 1932-1933

Lillian Coit Memorial Tower is located atop Telegraph Hill. It was built between 1932 and 1933 as a memorial to volunteer firemen who died in the five major fires in San Francisco's history.

Designed in the Art Deco style by architect Arthur Brown, Jr., assisted by Henry Howard, the tower rises 180 feet from its base with a public observation deck thirty-two feet below the top.

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.
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