I loved to watch the fog envelop Coit Tower as it as rolled into the city. I still have an old 3 x 5 photograph somewhere  of the tower in a billow of fog taken from the window vantage of my friend’s Russian Hill apartment. I never went inside Coit Tower but then I never toured the Statue of Liberty until I went home for a visit while living in San Francisco.

I have to assume the two scenes I’ve included on this post are a continuation of each other, if only because the financial district is fairly close to North Beach. And really the only way I know it’s the financial district is because the street sign reads Montgomery and something.  I lived on (nearby) Sacramento Street between Leavenworth and Jones  for most of the time  and worked at two different places on Montgomery Street.

One of those offices was above Ernie’s Restaurant which I just read closed in 1995, but will live on forever in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.

WPA Murals - Coit Tower, San Francisco's Financial District

And I’ve also just read on FoundSF.org (your place to discover and shape San Francisco history) that this particular mural is, in fact, a continuation of itself. It is called “Metropolitan Life” and was painted by Victor Arnautoff, who, like his mentor Diego Rivera, was a communist.  In Arnatoff’s financial district, well-dressed men get robbed at gun point (above – lower right) in front of newsstands that sell Esquire and Screen Play magazines while photographers are prominent at an auto accident. In the lower left corner of the North Beach neighborhood, we see the Masses and the Daily Worker on the newsstand, a young boy holds a copy of Time magazine and a man reads a newspaper, while on the lower right we see crates of perhaps California wine being unloaded from a truck.

WPA Murals - Coit Tower, San Francisco's North Beach

As I noted in my previous post, the Coit Tower murals were the largest project sponsored by the Public Works of Art Project … During the painting of the murals, the “Big Strike of 1934” shut down the Pacific Coast. As it turns out …

The 1934 West Coast Waterfront Strike (also known as the 1934 West Coast Longshoremen’s Strike, as well as a number of variations on these names) lasted eighty-three days, triggered by sailors and a four-day general strike in San Francisco, and led to the unionization of all of the West Coast ports of the United States.

I found a lot of coverage of the related riots on the Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco site.  Thursday, July 5, 1934 is known as “Bloody Thursday.”  The International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union (ILWA) continues to recognize “Bloody Thursday” by shutting down all West Coast ports every July 5th.

Who knew?


UNRELATED NOTE:   Happy Birthday to me!