Best Local WPA Project - 2000
The Murals at Coit Tower
FDR's Works Progress Administration not only gave people from every walk of life jobs during the country's worst financial depression, it left us with several notable public works that continue to delight 65 years later. From 1933 through 1934, a dozen WPA-sponsored artists converged at the base of the then-newly completed Coit Tower and painted murals directly on the wet plaster walls that depicted life in contemporary California -- its industry, agriculture, and so on -- the best mural being a huge, Dreiser-esque street scene of downtown San Francisco. The details are irresistible: the newsstand headlines, an adroit stickup, the subtle agitprop discernible here and there. There's also a second-floor staircase with murals on both sides replicating what it was like to walk up Powell Street circa 1933. Coit Tower is open from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Saturdays after 11 a.m.