On gray days, San Francisco is invisible to the East Bay – except for the Sutro Tower’s three red and white prongs rising above the fog. The television broadcasting tower, looming at 977 feet, is the tallest structure in the Bay Area. And its operators fondly note that it’s been “screwing up San Francisco’s gorgeous skyline since 1973.”
The “Sutro Monster” was constructed in the early 1970s due to the spotty television reception in much of the city. Locals were initially opposed to the tower, criticizing its aesthetics, and the permanent change to the skyline. San Francisco writer Herb Caen said, “I keep waiting for it to stalk down the hill and attack the Golden Gate Bridge.” But when forced to choose between an unaltered skyline and missing episodes of The Streets of San Francisco, residents chose the former.
A lot of myths still surround the tower, and rightly so. It looks like it landed on Mount Sutro via an alien spacecraft, and its lights add a spooky glow to the fog. Plus, who knows what kind of transmissions it’s receiving?
The Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters even did an episode featuring the landmark. Armed with the theory that broadcast towers emit energy similar to that of microwaves, the show’s hosts attempted to cook a turkey by strapping it to the structure. Let’s just say that the myth was busted.
Drive by the tower these days, and you might encounter an enormous herd of goats milling around atop the hill (they’re hired to keep the brambles under control). With all of these weird occurrences, San Francisco’s Sutro Tower will always be shrouded in mystery, and fog.