Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sutro Tower, our “Locals Only” Icon

The other day I was eating lunch.  Across from me sat a woman with an eight inch tall Sutro Tower tattooed on her arm. It is a very cool tattoo.  I’ll add that as one of the options on the if-ever-I-get-a-tattoo list. 

The tattoo got me thinking more about Sutro Tower.  San Francisco has iconic images that are recognized around the world like the Golden Gate Bridge, the Transamerica Pyramid and the row of Victorians on Alamo Square.  Yet, when people visit our City from all over the world, most barely notice Sutro Tower. You won’t find it on many postcards and there are no miniature Sutro Towers for sale in Chinatown. 

For San Franciscans, even if we take it for granted, most of us have a certain love for Sutro Tower.  If anything, the tower lets many of us avoid paying for cable.  With a bit of looking or a visit to any local craft fair, it does not take long to come across products with images of Sutro Tower.  Maybe they should be called staycation souvenirs?  Sutro Tower could be called our “Locals Only” icon.   

Sure, the tower has its detractors, and I have even come across a few fanatics who really hate the tower. But, well, San Franciscans do love to obsess over a cause.  For the rest of us, we’ll just look up and see it peaking through the fog.  And a few of us might secretly suspect the tower has another purpose — as an alien spaceship docking port. 

As for products – get some!  Like many of my fellow citizens, I have at least one t-shirt with our iconic tower.  My favorite t-shirts (shown below) are the ones from Glug, but I only have seen those in kid sizes.  I found some temporary tattoos (shown below) from  I think I need to place an order.

Many local artists have used Sutro Tower as a subject.  One my pieces for the 2011 Project is shown below, also Shannon Cope O’Rourke’s cityscape with our tower.  One could easily start a collection based on Sutro Tower art.  You might begin with Michael Wertz’s print and then this appropriately named Sutro Tower – Unlikely Landmark print from Minor Thread.

Nothing says real San Francisco like the Sutro Tower.

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