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Towering views of San Francisco.

Rain-scrubbed winter skies can bring great views for picture taking or just gazing, especially when you look out over San Francisco's cityscape and the bay beyond. But finding a vantage point that's protected from the elements is a challenge: there aren't any public observations decks in city high-rises. Here are some ideas:

Perhaps the best known and still the most spectacular high-rise observation place is the Carnelian Room of the Bank of America World Headquarters Building, at 555 California Street. This 51st-floor restaurant and bar, open daily from 3 to 1:30 A.M., has three bays where nonpatrons can sit and enjoy the view pictured above.

If you're not bothered by vertigo, you might want to experience the perspective from the glass elevators of two other downtown buildings:

The five glass elevators of the St. Francis Hotel, at Post and Geary, look south and east to the Peninsula and Bay Bridge; they run 24 hours a day, up to the 32nd floor (but there are no free viewing areas at the restaurant and bars at the top).

At the Fairmont Hotel, on California and Mason atop Nob Hill, you can ride a glass elevator to the 24th floor from 11 A.M. to 12:30 A.M. weekdays, to 1:30 A.M. weekends. Nonpatrons are welcome to enjoy briefly the views east and west from the Crown Room bar at the top.

Of course Coit Tower, rising 180 feet above Telegraph Hill, has offered a 360[deg.] panorama of city and bay ever since it was built in 1933. It's easier to park now without the summer logjam of tourists. In the lobby, note the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) frescoes; volunteer tour guides can answer questions. Admission to the top is $1 for adults (75 cents for city residents), 50 cents for seniors and ages 6 to 15. Winter hours are 10 to 4:30 daily.
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Date:Feb 1, 1985
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