Weekend Special: The Food-Related Murals of San Francisco's Coit Tower
Coit Tower was built by the City of San Francisco atop Telegraph Hill in 1933 in the Art Deco style. It was funded by a bequest from heiress Lillie Hitchcock Coit. The tower offers panoramic views of the entire city, from the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island on the north, to Twin Peaks in the West, to downtown's skycrapers to the south, to Oakland and Bay Bridge on the East.
Accessible only via a rickety elevator, the top of the 210-foot tower is a tourist trap of major proportions, but visitors also queue up in the circular entrance lobby to see a fantastic series of murals, commissioned by the Public Works of Art Project of the federal government, the first of the New Deal art projects. The murals were supervised by Ralph Stackpole and Bernard Zakheim, and executed by the staff and students of the California School of Fine Arts. A majority of the murals involve food themes in one form or another, reflecting the importance of California as an agricultureal state, from scenes of farm workers picking grapes and oranges, to a lunch counter worked in around a narrow window, to a canning operation. Given the many-hands nature of the work, the consistency of style is incredible.