Coit Tower, a 210-foot tower in the Telegraph Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, California was built using funds bequeathed by Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a wealthy patron of the city’s firefighters.
Lillie herself was an interesting character in the mold of free-spirits of which the city is noted for. She often dressed as a man to gamble in North Beach saloons, smoked cigars, publicly ice-skated in risqué shortened skirts.
At an early age, she would watch the local firemen battle raging fires and on October 3, 1863, she was elected an honorary member of the Knickerbocker Fire Company #5. Lillie always regarded that honor as the proudest of her life. She wore the numeral as an ornament with all her costumes, along with the gold badge presented at the same time.
The tower was designed by the firm of Arthur Brown, Jr., architect of San Francisco’s City Hall. Meant to help beautify the city it is the murals that are displayed inside that now make it famous.
The murals represent the first major relief work commissioned by the U.S. Government Public Works of Art Project (PWAP). The idea to cover the bare walls of the tower with frescoed murals was implemented by Dr. Walter Heil, Director of the Legion of Honor Museum. He selected 25 artists who were paid $38 per week.
All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.Samuel Johnson
Cable Car Museum
Cable cars were invented by Andrew Smith Hallidie here in San Francisco in 1873. Hallidie's cable car system was based on early mining conveyance systems and dominated the city’s transit scene for more than 30 years. Hallidie's cable car system would survive the great San Francisco earthquake and fires of 1906, soldier on through two World Wars and outlast attempts to remove the cars from city streets after WWII to become the worldwide symbol of San Francisco that it is today.
Hallidi's idea for a steam engine-powered, cable-driven rail system was conceived in 1869, after witnessing horses being whipped while they struggled on the wet cobblestones to pull a horsecar up Jackson Street.
Hallidie entered into a partnership to form the Clay Street Hill Railroad, which began construction of a cable line on Clay Street in May of 1873. Clay Street Hill Railroad was the sole San Francisco cable car company for four years. A former horsecar company, Sutter Street Railroad, developed its own version of Hallidie's patented system and began cable service in 1877, followed by California Street Cable Railroad (1878), Geary Street, Park & Ocean Railroad (1880), Presidio & Ferries Railroad (1882), Market Street Cable Railway (1883), Ferries & Cliff House Railway (1888), and Omnibus Railroad & Cable Company (1889).
Today, there are two types of cable cars in regular service. Though they differ in appearance, their operation is almost identical.
The California Street Cable Car Line uses twelve larger, maroon cable cars that have an open seating section at each end and a closed section in the middle. These cars can be operated from either end and turn around utilizing a simple switch at the end of the line.
The two Powell Street lines (Powell-Hyde & Powell-Mason) use smaller cable cars, operable from only one end, and thus require turntables to reverse direction at the ends of the line. There are 28 Powell cars kept on the roster at any given time. Several sport historic liveries recapturing the look of the cars at various points in the twelve-decade history of the service.
San Francisco Zoo
The present-day San Francisco Zoo was established in 1929 and was built in the 1930s and 1940s as part of a depression-era Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. The Zoo was originally called The Herbert Fleishhacker Zoo, after its founder. The official name of the Zoo – The San Francisco Zoological Gardens – was adopted on February 27, 1941, following the suggestion of Herbert Fleishhacker.
Monterey Bay Aquarium
In 1978 a group of marine scientists, local residents, and members of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation of Los Altos, California, formed the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation. A one-time personal gift from David and Lucile Packard provided initial construction costs for the Aquarium, which ultimately totaled $55 million. Six years later the aquarium opened its doors to 10,681 visitors on its first day