Also, taking the long way to the top of Coit Tower

The title is in reference to my November 13th 2022 post, although this diversion wasn’t planned. Last Thursday, I thought I’d take another trip to Coit Tower. It was a clear day, and I decided to take pictures around the observation deck of the tower. To my disappointment, the elevator to the top of the tower was out of order, but one of the assistants said that if I bought a ticket, I could take the stairs to the top. I’ve been to Coit Tower many, many times, but I have never taken the often heard of closed off stairway to the top, so, I thought I’d give it a try. The stairway circles continuously around the inside of Coit Tower until it reaches the top. When I reached Level 4, I wasn’t sure that this was such a good idea, but I wasn’t going to back out in front of the tower employees. Besides, several much younger people than I am had gone on ahead, and I wasn’t going to let them show me up. When I reached Level 10, I felt like I was pretty much done for the day, and when I stumbled out at the top, I felt like I was about a hundred years old! After I took my pictures, I realized that descending down the steep stairway is almost as tiring! When I got back down, one of the ladies working there remarked, “Well, I’ll bet that’s something you haven’t done before.” and she was right; that’s something I hadn’t done before, or won’t ever do again! I stopped by Calhoun Terrace to take some pictures, and headed down the Filbert Steps, which didn’t seem like much of a bother now, to the bottom of Telegraph Hill. When I got to my office, I tried to match up my pictures with some slides from the top of Coit Tower that I took in 1983. (Thumbnail images)

In April of 1983, I snapped a picture of a tanker heading past the Embarcadero, and heading toward the Bay Bridge. When I saw a ship approaching the Bay Bridge, remembered my 1983 slide because it’s one of my favorites, and took pictures of the ship passing by Telegraph. On the third one, I got a near perfect lineup with my old slide.

I took the rest of my pictures through the windows of the tower, like this one showing the old Embarcadero Freeway. They don’t match up perfectly with my old slides, but they still make interesting comparisons.

Looking toward Downtown San Francisco: Except for the Pyramid Building, this one doesn’t match up at all. The Salesforce Tower, looming in the background through the haze, is actually much taller than the Transamerica Pyramid.

Now you’re looking across Chinatown, with Nob Hill on the right and the Bank of America Building on the left.

Looking toward Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 45, with the Van Ness Pier on the left. The ship docked at Pier 45 in the 1983 pictures isn’t the Liberty Ship, the Jeremiah O’Brien, docked there today. On the right, you can see the arch of Pier 43 in both pictures. The sailing ship, the Balclutha, was still docked at Pier 43 in 1983.

After I left Coit Tower, I walked down the Filbert Steps to Calhoun Terrace, and another one of my all time favorite San Francisco views. You’re looking down toward Pier 17 on the Embarcadero. The Exploratorium is now housed in Pier 17. Back in 1983, somebody had the silly idea to paint the Embarcadero Piers mellow yellow and baby blue. Thankfully, they’ve been repainted since them. Yerba Buena and Treasure Islands, and the tower of the Bay Bridge eastern span are in the background.

The view further south of the previous pictures shows the Pier 7 walking pier at the foot of Broadway. The Pier 7 Building had been removed by 1983.

Last, is another view of the gone but not forgiven Embarcadero Freeway. I have to admit that I used that freeway often, and I was one of the last people on it before it closed forever, trying to get out of San Francisco during the hours after the October 17th 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, but I don’t miss it.









3 thoughts on “Also, taking the long way to the top of Coit Tower

  • You drove on the Embarcadero after the Loma Prieta Earthquake?!?! Oh my! I knew better than to do that, and I was not even here, or anywhere near here. Perhaps that is why I knew. We got more coverage about the situation from the news than those who lacked electricity or local broadcast. I had just left Los Gatos earlier in the day, and thought that I would never see it again.

    • I and a buddy of mine were in a place called Ginsberg Pub near Fisherman’s Wharf getting ready to watch the third game of the ’89 World Series. We just got our hot dogs and a pitcher of beer when the earthquake hit. There was an eerie silence and no power in San Francisco. We got on the Embarcadero Freeway to try to get back to the East Bay, but we were turned away at the Bay Bridge because of the portion that collapsed. We ended up spending the night at SFO until they opened up the San Mateo Bridge the following morning.

      • Gads! I missed the whole thing! I likely mentioned it before. I had just left town, and was past King City, but likely closer to Paso Robles, when the car sort of wiggled a bit as the radio went dead. Of course, it was on the news when I got to San Luis Obispo. I have lived here my whole life, but never experienced even a moderate earthquake. I always leave just before they happen. Seriously, the 1994 Northridge Earthquake happened only a few hours after I left Beverly Hills. I left just prior to the Napa Earthquake. I miss fires in a similar manner, and left here just prior to the evacuation for the CZU Fire. I should just stay home.

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