Sutro Tower Night and Day

The moon was rising beside Sutro Tower, behind the eucalyptus forest. I tried for some pictures. I love that digital cameras can actually get something under these conditions! It’s not the best picture, but it’s something. Of course it was much more dramatic and beautiful than this.

sutro tower with rising moon

The picture below is from a year ago (June 2014, actually). It makes a nice contrast to the night view. I love the way the trees soften the base and contrast with the tower.

sutro tower in mist

Hearing Postponed on Sutro Tower – Antennae and Trees

sutro towerIf you were thinking of going to tomorrow’s hearing about Sutro Tower (adding 50 antennae, removing an unspecified number of trees) – the hearing has been RESCHEDULED TO MARCH 19:

“The Zoning Administrator determined that further review of the existing site is needed with respect to the applicable Conditional Use Authorization. Therefore, we are continuing the Mandatory Discretionary Review hearing to March 19, 2015.”

Sutro Tower – More Antennae, Erosion Control


Sutro Tower from GlenhavenSutro Tower has been sending out notices that it plans to add more antennae to the tower, plus a 30-foot satellite dish on the ground; and do some work around the tower.

I hope the work on the ground isn’t going to involve cutting down trees. As it is, the base of the tower is overly visible from the Twin Peaks side. It looks interesting and iconic rising above a fringe of green – it’s one of the few objects that can visually dwarf eucalyptus trees! But planted on bare ground, it would look industrial, more like a pylon.

(I wrote to Sutro Tower, and they are indeed cutting down some trees.)

This picture is from the Planning Commission website and it’s copyright so I can’t actually put it here – but it indicates what I mean:

Click to access Photo%20Simulation_1.pdf

The Planning Commission has a hearing on Feb 5th, 2015.

If this is important to you,  please write to them about the importance of preserving as many trees as possible, and replacing the ones that are removed with actual trees, not native-plant shrubs or grasses.


sutro tower announcement

Sutro Tower Holiday Ornament

Red sutro tower holiday ornamentAt the Forest Knolls holiday party last month, Sutro Tower, Inc was one of the sponsors. They attended with some cool giveaways – including this cool red ornament with a picture of the Tower.

Someone posted a picture of it on our Forest Knolls Facebook page, and immediately people were asking where they could get one.

I wrote to Sutro Tower’s “information” email address. VP and General Manager Eric Dausman immediately responded and offered me some. I picked up a dozen, and have them available. (Two are spoken for already, ten left.)

If you live in Forest Knolls and want one, I’d be happy to drop it off at your place. If you live farther afield, we’ll need to make some arrangements. Email me at fk94131 at yahoo dot com either way.

Offer open, as they say, while stocks last.


Night walk in Forest Knolls

It was such a clear night that we could actually see the stars – and they were brilliant.  Orion floated right beside Sutro Tower, reminding  me of a quote from Fritz Leiber’s book, ‘Our Lady of Darkness’: “The constellation of Orion was shouldering into his window… its nine brightest stars made an angular, tilted hourglass, challenging the smaller slenderer one made by the nineteen winking red lights of the TV tower… When he’d first seen the tower, he’d thought it worse than grotesque, but now — how strange! — it had become almost as reassuring to him as starry Orion.

sutro tower and stars

Of course this picture doesn’t do it anything like justice. But for a little point-and-shoot camera, stabilized only by resting it on someone’s car – it’s captured something!

We walked up Crestmont to Christopher. The picture below was from the head of the stairs there. (The staircase is actually called Blairwood Lane, as I discovered when I wrote about them here a few years ago – See The Stairways of Forest Knolls )

view from stairs - blairwood lane - forest knollsToday I’m thankful for our friendly neighborhood with the magnificent and mystical Forest above us, and splendid views only a few minutes’ walk from home.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Blue Angels from Forest Knolls

Neighbor Lulu Carpenter sent me a series of pictures of the Blue Angels flying by, taken from her home in Forest Knolls.

And this last picture isn’t of the Blue Angels, it’s the view from her house… but it’s so gorgeous I thought I’d publish it. Thanks for sharing these, Lulu!

ETA: And here’s one more picture, not from Lulu or Forest Knolls — it’s Sutro Tower, the fog, and the Blue Angels.

Seven Views of Sutro Tower

From everywhere in and around San Francisco, the Sutro TV Tower is visible; but  for our neighborhood, it’s iconic. So recently, when a friend pointed me at Our Lady of Darkness by Fritz Leiber (1910-1992), I was fascinated to discover that the tower featured in its opening pages.

“The TV tower — San Francisco’s Eiffel, you could call it — was broad-shouldered, slender-waisted, and long-legged like a beautiful and stylish woman — or demigoddess.”

He was writing back in the 1970s, when the tower was new, and literary analogies sometimes a touch sexist:

“… the TV tower stood tall, her colors fresh and gussied-up and elegant as a brand-new whore (Your pardon, Goddess).

Not everyone was so complimentary. I was looking up information on Mount Davidson when I came upon this quote:Now a giant red and white, but politically correct, pitchfork adorns the mountain named after Adolph Sutro.” —  Jacqueline Proctor, Mt, article on Madie Brown (2010)

The Chronicle weighed in: ‘”…it’s a beacon, an orientation point,” EHDD’s Marc L’Italien says of the 977-foot three-pronged communications tower completed in 1973 despite an outcry from neighborhood groups. “It’s also well-proportioned, a bit futuristic…”‘ — John King, SF Chronicle, 8 March 2011.

[Edited to Add on 18 May 2012: From Earl Martin, an original resident Midtown Terrace resident, I got this photo taken around 1957. It shows the predecessor to today’s tower – a lot slimmer than the existing one.]


Then I went to the review site, Yelp, which allows anyone to review anything from laundries to landmarks.  It had 47 reviews of the tower…

Like this one from GIR in 2007:  “Sutro Tower is also the coolest landmark in SF, a giant diabolical pacemaker in the heart of the city. It is instantly recognizable without being a common tourist attraction, defining and defiantly brazen against the sky.”

Mike S totally disagreed: “It’s a hunk of red and white metal that s*its on the SF skyline…” And Derek B expressed the same sentiment: “Painted red and white, it’s obnoxious.  Stickin’ out of the purdy twin peaks, it’s an eye sore…”

John S had mixed feelings about the tower: “On the one hand, it’s iconic and visible from a great deal of the city and the East Bay.  Its scale is also amazing.  It’s obviously very tall, but you don’t really understand just how tall it is until you’ve been up pretty close to it. On the other hand, it’s most likely carcinogenic, and it is pretty ugly. OK, I’m not sure how ugly it really is because I actually like how it looks…”


Sutro tower even has its own t-shirts, from at least two many different makers, among them United Hue; and Amos Goldbaum. Handmade earrings from Chantal de Felice  (being sold at her Etsy store). Many artists, particularly print-makers,  have found its geometric lines interesting.

And…fans even got it as tattoos.

Chris R, whose tattoo appear in this photograph on Flickr, explains: “A tribute to my dad who died back in 1990. He lived here in SF, so I’d always come to visit on weekends and such. He played around with wood block printing as a hobby, and Sutro tower was always a significant landmark for me, so the design just seemed to fit.” Chris found the image on the craft-site Etsy, but couldn’t recall the artist. Only afterward did he discover the original artist, Eric Rewitzer of 3 Fish Studio,  who was honored that his work was so memorialized. (See the comment-stream after the photograph.)


The last word goes to Fritz Leiber, from the same book: “The constellation of Orion was shouldering into his window… its nine brightest stars made an angular, tilted hourglass, challenging the smaller slenderer one made by the nineteen winking red lights of the TV tower… When he’d first seen the tower, he’d thought it worse than grotesque, but now — how strange! — it had become almost as reassuring to him as starry Orion.”

This is a Picture. Really.

Years ago, I saw a reproduction of a painting: The Kanchenjunga Hidden By Mist. It was a piece of truly minimalist art, a pure pearly-white canvas with not even a hint of the iconic mountain visible through it. Readers of this article may think I’m emulating that painting, only in black, not white, and as a photograph not a painting.

I hope I’m doing better than that, if only marginally. In case you miss them, I’d like to point out the red dots at the bottom left, and the white crescent at the top right.

What this is (really!), is the lunar eclipse over Sutro Tower. It was taken at 11.23 p.m. on Dec 20, 2010.

November Moon Over Sutro Tower

It’s a beautiful night in San Francisco, with the air clear from the day’s rain and a full November moon. My little camera can’t deal with all that brightness, so my full moon pictures are pale discs of light. But tonight, it all came together in this view from Forest Knolls. (Of course, it’s still much lovelier than this picture.)