History Lesson: Coit Tower


The iconic Coit Tower, which sits atop Telegraph Hill, was constructed in 1933 at the request of Lillie Hitchcock Coit for whom the tower was named. Coit was one of those eccentric characters that dot the history of San Francisco and make it the interesting city that it has always been. She was a gender-bending rough-and-tumble type of woman who smoked cigars, gambled avidly and lived raucously. The fact that she came from money and married into more of it helped make her behavior more acceptable to others.

What Lille Hitchcock Coit was best known for in her day, however, was not her wild antics. Instead, it was her obsession with firefighting due surely to the fact that she herself was rescued from a severe fire when she was just a child. She grew up to become a volunteer firefighter who rode along with the firemen to all of the fires in town beginning at the age of 15 when she was dubbed the mascot for Knickerbocker Engine Co. No. 5. In those days, fires broke out frequently due to the materials used to construct buildings at the time. Lillian Hitchcock Coit was frequently found helping put out those fires.

Coit died in 1929 but she had money to her name. She used that money to commission Coit Tower, which was built in honor of the firefighters that she so adored. In addition to honoring the firefighers, Lillie Hitchcock Coit wanted the area to serve as a beautiful spot for viewing the city that she so loved.

Note: As you take in the expansive, panoramic views of the bay from the base of Coit Tower, be sure to wave to your friends aboard Red & White Fleet as they cruise under the Golden Gate Bridge.

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