SF Rec and Park Celebrates Historic Coit Tower Opening
SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department celebrated the historic Coit Tower re-opening today. The opening celebration was hosted by Mayor Ed M. Lee, SF Recreation and Park Department and SF Arts Commission. The Opening began with welcome remarks from Tom O’Connor, President of SF Firefighters Union Local 798, and Joanne Hayes-White, SF Fire Chief. Then Firefighter Danny Garcia performed the National Anthem, followed by remarks from City leaders. The event ended with a ceremonial ribbon cutting, and the song “I Love You California” performed by Mal Sharpe’s Big Money in Jazz Band, the very same closing music performed at the 1933 Coit Tower opening. In addition, the San Francisco Firefighter Union Local 798 showcased the vintage fire trucks, and provided lunch for attendees.
The Recreation and Park Department funded the $1.7 million renovation and mural restoration with funds from its capital improvement project savings. The mural restoration was also supported by approximately $150,000 in capital funding from the San Francisco Arts Commission and a $100,000 grant from Bank of America. The San Francisco Arts Commission also contributed $150,000 towards the mural restoration.
Since October 2013, the Tower has been closed to the public as it underwent the most extensive restoration in its history. During this time, many improvements were made, including replacing the roof; repainting the lobby ceiling and fixtures to bring it as close to its original state as possible; renovating the bathrooms; and performing various ADA upgrades in order to make the space more accessible. Anvil Builders, a San Francisco-based general engineering and construction company, performed the work. The mural restoration was led by Architectural Resources Group (ARG) in partnership with Anne Rosenthal Fine Art Conservation.
The Coit Tower Elevator is now operated by the new Tower operation, Coit Tower LLC, an entity formed by Mr. Terry Grim, and manages the museum shop, and elevator operation concessions at Coit Tower. In addition, Coit Tower, LLC has invested a total of $75,000 in capital improvement in and around the Tower, which will elevate the atmosphere and ambience of the Tower to a museum status. Today, Coit Tower LLC has opened up a Coit Tower Bookstore with a robust docent program that incorporated the elevator operation, and docent and audio tours. This new contact has included an ongoing maintenance fund for the preservation and protection of the murals at Coit Tower.
Coit Tower, a majestic fluted white column rising from the top of Telegraph Hill, was built in honor of Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a true San Francisco character and devoted patron of the city’s firefighters. Since its completion in 1933, the Tower has become one of the city’s most beloved and iconic landmarks, welcoming visitors and residents to marvel at the 360-degree views of the City and the Bay offered by the Tower’s observation deck. In addition, the 27 murals that decorate the interior of the Tower represent one of the City’s most important cultural treasures. Painted in 1934 by a diverse group of artists employed by the Public Works of Art Project, a precursor to the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the frescos provide a snapshot of life in California during the Great Depression and are rich with themes and imagery that continue to resonate today.
The public are encouraged to take the 39 Coit to visit Coit Tower. The 39-Coit is an essential bus route that connects residents and visitors to key landmarks like Coit Tower, Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. It also serves as a local bus service for residents of Telegraph Hill and North beach to connect with the Financial District. The 39 Coit serves 450 customers on weekdays and 500 on weekends.