Thursday, October 10, 2013

Out and About: Coit Tower and Stockton Street, Telegraph Hill and North Beach, S.F.

In North Beach and nearby Telegraph Hill, learn about two women: a pioneering cattle rancher named Juana Briones de Miranda and Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a rebellious socialite who smoked cigars, wore men's clothing and gambled - and whose love of her adopted city spurred the creation of one of its most iconic landmarks.
-Stephanie Wright Hession
All photographs by Stephanie Wright Hession copyright 2013. 

***Coit Tower is closing mid-November through at least April 2014 for extensive renovations.

1. Coit Tower

1 Telegraph Hill Blvd.: Lillie Hitchcock Coit's admiration for firefighters stemmed from her youth. An honorary member of Knickerbocker Engine Co. No. 5, she bequeathed $118,000 with instructions to add beauty to the city. Arthur Brown Jr. and Henry Howard designed this 210-foot Art Deco tower, which was dedicated in 1933.
2. Coit Tower murals
In the rotunda, view some of the 27 murals created by a group of prominent local artists in 1934, part of the Public Works of Art Project. They illustrate people living and working in urban and agricultural settings.

3. Coit Tower views

Take the small elevator and a short flight of stairs to Coit Tower's 180-foot-high observation deck. Even if you're not a tourist, after taking in the magnificent 360-degree panorama of the city skyline, the San Francisco Bay and more, you'll wonder what took you so long to get up here.

4. Mama's

1701 Stockton St.: For three generations, the Sanchez family has run its popular breakfast spot overlooking Washington Square. Amid sunflower yellow walls, indulge in billowy omelets, Dungeness crab Benedict and country-style potatoes. 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Tues.-Sun. (415) 362-6421,

5. Washington Square

Filbert, Stockton, Union and Powell streets: With its benches, lawn area, children's playground and views of the facade of SS Peter and Paul's Church (currently obscured by scaffolding), this North Beach park exists on land once belonging to Juana Briones de Miranda, who established a farm here in the former Yerba Buena.

6. Washington Square Inn

1660 Stockton St.: Not ready to go home yet? Partake in some Italian fare at one of the North Beach restaurants and then make it an overnight escape with a stay at this cozy, 15-room bed and breakfast. Perks include complimentary hors d'oeuvres, wine and Wi-Fi. (415) 981-4220.

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