The View from Tien Hou

Over the rooftops of Chinatown atop Telegraph Hill is Coit Tower, an iconic landmark of San Francisco. The tower was built in 1933 in honor of Lillie Hitchcock Coit and dedicated to San Francisco firefighters.

Coit Tower

A very colorful character, Lillie was an avid supporter of the fire department during her life. At 15 years old, she actually helped the Knickerbocker Engine Company No. 5 battle a blaze. While walking home from school she saw the engine company in action with a shortage of manpower. You can read more about Lillie and her participation that day in this piece at the Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco.

Tien Hou on Waverly Place

I took the photo of the tower from the balcony (top floor building on the left, painted yellow and red) of the oldest Taoist temple in the United States, Tien Hou, at 125 Waverly Place while on a walking tour of Chinatown.

Transamerica Pyramid Building

For a different perspective, I shot this photo from the center of the temple’s balcony. I was struck by the distinct contrast between the Transamerica Pyramid building and other skyscrapers built in recent decades to the old world of Chinatown here on the painted balcony of Tien Hou.

This is my submission to this week’s Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday series. Be sure to check out other photo and story entries on their website.


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27 thoughts on “The View from Tien Hou

  1. Leigh

    I think you and I both appreciate architecture – especially the juxtaposition of new and old. I bet that was a fun walk to do – and always something I had intended to do in Vancouver’s Chinatown.

    1. Cathy Post author

      It was a very fun and informative walk. I had been to Chinatown many times, but never saw the alleys or other places off the main tourist area.

    1. Cathy Post author

      I recently took an architecture tour of the Financial District that was very interesting. Rick Evans has wonderful walking tours.

  2. Dick Jordan

    There are many great “photo ops” like these to be found while walking from the Ferry Building up through Chinatown and North Beach, to Telegraph Hill, and back along the Embarcadero in San Francisco.

    1. Cathy Post author

      You are so right about that, Dick. Coit is a beautiful sight from many perspectives in San Francisco. Lucky us to have such views!

  3. Annie - FootTracker

    I have not been to North Beach and Chinatown for couple months now ~ I remember climbing the stairs to Coit Tower, and up that tower….O_O

    (Btw, there is a chocolate store called xoxo in North Beach, their truffles are amazing ~~ melts ~)

    1. Cathy Post author

      I’ve been up to the top of the tower a couple of times — awesome views from up there. However, I don’t really like the very tiny elevator you have to take to get there.

    1. Cathy Post author

      Thanks, Mary. I don’t know how much you’ve seen of Chinatown, but you might want to try Rick Evans’s tour — takes you off the beaten path.

  4. Lisa

    It is an interesting contrast between the two sorts of buildings. I took some photos recently in Toronto’s historic Distillery District and the skyscrapers in the background were bugging me – I think perhaps I need to look at the shots again from a different perspective.

    1. Cathy Post author

      I’ve visited Toronto’s Distillery District, too. Definitely take another look at your pics. I hope you’ll have a new opinion of them. 🙂

  5. Pingback: The Alleys of Chinatown San Francisco | Traveling with Sweeney

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