The Coit Tower murals were done under the auspices of the Public Works Art Project as part of F.D.R.’s New Deal to provide jobs for artists and help combat the 1930’s depression. The artworks depict the socialist views of the day. The photo on the left is a self-portrait of an artist reaching for a copy of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. The photo on the right tries to illustrate racial equality among the working force. Other murals showcase the artists’ cynical view of city-life such as an auto-pedestrian accident (which looks fatal) while another mural portrays a man being robbed by a team of thugs amidst the hustle and bustle of urban life. The murals inside Coit Tower often paint workers in the heroic poses of socialist realism while well-dressed racially white members of the capitalist classes enjoy the fruits of their labor.
John Langley Howard’s murals depict an ethnically diverse Labor March as well as showing a destitute family panning for gold while a wealthy ensemble observes. After a Diego Rivera mural was destroyed by Rockefeller Center patrons for the inclusion of an image of Lenin, San Francisco artists protested, picketing Coit Tower. This angered the conservative majority in the City and local government threatened to due away with the murals altogether. Fortunately this did not happen and the art works are available today without charge for public viewing . Viva la revolucion!