Towering views of San Francisco Essay

Rain-scrubbed winter skies can bring great views for picture takingor just gazing, especially when you look out over San Francisco’scityscape and the bay beyond. But finding a vantage point that’sprotected from the elements is a challenge: there aren’t any publicobservations decks in city high-rises.

Here are some ideas: Perhaps the best known and still the most spectacular high-riseobservation place is the Carnelian Room of the Bank of America WorldHeadquarters Building, at 555 California Street. This 51st-floorrestaurant and bar, open daily from 3 to 1:30 A.M., has three bays wherenonpatrons can sit and enjoy the view pictured above. If you’re not bothered by vertigo, you might want toexperience the perspective from the glass elevators of two otherdowntown buildings: The five glass elevators of the St. Francis Hotel, at Post andGeary, look south and east to the Peninsula and Bay Bridge; they run 24hours a day, up to the 32nd floor (but there are no free viewing areasat the restaurant and bars at the top). At the Fairmont Hotel, on California and Mason atop Nob Hill, youcan ride a glass elevator to the 24th floor from 11 A.

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M. to 12:30 A.M.weekdays, to 1:30 A.

M. weekends. Nonpatrons are welcome to enjoybriefly the views east and west from the Crown Room bar at the top. Of course Coit Tower, rising 180 feet above Telegraph Hill, hasoffered a 360[deg.

] panorama of city and bay ever since it was built in1933. It’s easier to park now without the summer logjam oftourists. In the lobby, note the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP)frescoes; volunteer tour guides can answer questions. Admission to thetop is $1 for adults (75 cents for city residents), 50 cents for seniorsand ages 6 to 15. Winter hours are 10 to 4:30 daily.


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