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Sutromygod

April 28, 2010

Wow. Just… wow.

Herb Caen on Sutro Tower: “I keep waiting for it to stalk down the hill and attack the Golden Gate Bridge.”

photo by Stuart Dixon > alybooboo > itsnotthatserious > generic

The reaction to the tower when it was built in 1971-1973 is rather different than today (via sutro.org):

Supervisor Dianne Feinstein:
“This is undoubtedly one of the worst structures, visually, I have an opportunity to view.”

Allan B. Jacobs, Director of City Planning, City and County of San Francisco:
“It’s pretty terrible – esthetically, environmentally, from about every standpoint you can imagine.”

Supervisor Robert E. Gonzales:
“In the fall of 1971, when it was one-fourth built, I called it Godzilla the Monster. Now it’s Godzilla fully grown. I think it’s ugly. When it was approved in 1966, no one recognized the magnitude and overpowering effect it would have.”

Period quip (via reader Sean):

“It’s the packing case the Tramsamerica building came in.”

And here’s what was a minority (and admittedly biased) opinion at the time:

Russ Coughlan, general manager of KGO-TV and president of Sutro Tower, Inc.:
“I like the way it looks. It’s as attractive as anything that structural can be. I don’t think it’s an eyesore. I think it’s attractive and has its own identity…”

More in line with today’s thinking, or at least for many who have moved here since it was built.

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. April 28, 2010 2:14 pm

    This has been my desktop photo at work since I saw it on Caliber.

  2. April 28, 2010 2:15 pm

    I know, right? You think you’ve seen every possible postcard angle of SF and then this comes out of nowhere.

  3. April 28, 2010 9:31 pm

    Thanks all. Taken from a small airplane.

  4. April 28, 2010 11:01 pm

    For Bay Area natives, Mt. Sutro tower is more iconic than Coit Tower or the Golden Gate bridge. It’s the one icon that stands out from every point within miles around San Francisco.

  5. April 29, 2010 1:12 pm

    What’s amazing is how it was hated when it first went up.

    From sutro.org:

    Supervisor Dianne Feinstein: “This is undoubtedly one of the worst structures, visually, I have an opportunity to view.”

    Allan B. Jacobs, Director of City Planning, City and County of San Francisco: “It’s pretty terrible – esthetically, environmentally, from about every standpoint you can imagine.”

    Supervisor Robert E. Gonzales: “In the fall of 1971, when it was one-fourth built, I called it Godzilla the Monster. Now it’s Godzilla fully grown. I think it’s ugly. When it was approved in 1966, no one recognized the magnitude and overpowering effect it would have.

    And here’s what was a minority (and biased) opinion at the time:

    Russ Coughlan, general manager of KGO-TV and current president of Sutro Tower, Inc.: “I like the way it looks. It’s as attractive as anything that structural can be. I don’t think it’s an eyesore. I think it’s attractive and has its own identity…”

    While I’m sure those San Franciscans who were here before 1970 still hate it, I think those that have moved here since Sutro was built think along more the lines of that last quote.

  6. April 30, 2010 11:00 am

    People hated the Transamerica Pyramid, too. Not any more!

    I love Sutro Tower. Love love love it.

  7. April 30, 2010 11:31 am

    I think the secret to Sutro’s loveability its jaunty taper in the middle.

    Man would I love to get up to the top.

    I do look forward to eating at the Top of the Sutro restaurant when our fear of alien invasion causes us to cease terrestrial broadcasting.

  8. Evan permalink
    April 30, 2010 2:52 pm

    My view looks out to Sutro tower, and would hate not having Sutro in my view. It’s a landmark, and it adds weight and power San Francisco’s skyline (or, hillline).

  9. May 1, 2010 12:36 am

    I don’t know, guys. I still think Sutro’s as ugly as sin. It’s like putting television antennae on a Monet. That’s why (for me) this photo is so amazing. It succeeds where an earthbound angle couldn’t.

  10. May 1, 2010 1:00 am

    No, *this* is an ugly tower.

  11. May 1, 2010 2:40 pm

    Whoops, b0rked that link. Ugly tower here. But as Dan notes, the denizens of Prague are OK with their CommunistCommTower:

    “Nowadays, the tower is fairly popular, as the jarring contrast between old and kitschy-new is seen as quirky and likable.”

  12. Dan permalink
    May 2, 2010 2:00 am

    How dare you! We love our commie space rocket.

    But, man, the hated-now-loved-today dynamic that you document so well with Sutro was sure out in full force with the Zizkov tower too. Not only did folks find it ugly, it also brought the whole awkward ‘we rolled tanks into your city and threatened to deport hundreds of thousands of you to gulags… and now we’re building THIS!’ dynamic.

  13. Sean permalink
    May 2, 2010 3:32 am

    A period quip: it’s the packing case the Tramsamerica building came in.

  14. May 2, 2010 7:54 pm

    I knew that the Eiffel Tower was unpopular when it was built in 1889, but apparently the “artistic and literary elite” were ripshit when it was built. Some of the quotes are great:

    “[We] protest with all our force, with all our indignation, in the name of unappreciated French taste, in the name of menaced French art and history, against the erection, in the very heart of our capital, of the useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower… Is Paris going to be associated with the grotesque, mercantile imaginings of a constructor of machines?”

    Ah, if only there were blogs in 1889.

    I didn’t realize it only had a 20 year permit — were it not for the advent of radio the Eiffel Tower would have been torn down in 1909.

    Dan has some good commentary over at Mock Duck on consensus building vs damning the torpedos when building things, though the communist angle adds a twist.

    Maybe we can take some lessons from this on pushing high speed rail through the Palo Alto/Menlo Park NIMBYtown corridor. (Given their idiocy to date I am on the verge of taking away both their stations stations and making Redwood City and Mountain View the hubs. But I digress.)

  15. Dan permalink
    May 2, 2010 11:49 pm

    Ah, 19th century French guys protesting erections with all of their force.

    That’s really interesting about the Eiffel though. According to that link you posted, it’s official war monument status was cemented because “The military used it to dispatch Parisian taxis to the front line during the First Battle of the Marne”. Taxis to the front line?

    Incidentally, I did a book cover design for a crazy 1930s Futurist novel called I Burn Paris that ends with bolsheviks seizing the Eiffel and broadcasting their manifesto to the world via that radio system. It was about the most emblematically modern thing in the world pre-WW2, I suppose.

  16. May 3, 2010 1:20 am

    It’s amazing how close the Germans got to Paris in WWI. You could probably see the front lines from the top of the tower.

    I didn’t realize they used the taxis to get around a jammed rail system.

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