When I think of structures that identify the San Francisco skyline, I think of the following: Everybody seems to know about the first two, and many people physically recognize Sutro Tower, but no one seems to know its name. It is on the back of Frequency 8 CDs, and appears prominently in SF-based video games like San Francisco Rush 2049. It can be seen from almost anywhere in the city, from Portrero to the Haight, even Outer Sunset. It's not particularly pretty, but it seems to be part of the skyline now.

Sutro tower is a transmission tower that looks over San Francisco from the Twin Peaks neighborhood, on Mount Sutro. It was built in 1972, and is a 977 foot tall orange and white steel structure. Rather than being owned by any one channel, it is co-owned by multiple channels through an independent corporation. Space on the tower is rented; the owners are like landlords for parties interested in prime transmission space. Sutro tower is used by ten television stations, four FM radio stations, and various wireless services. It also hosts a camera that gives a bird's eye view of the city.

Residents were not thrilled about the construction of the tower, which owners admit was built to compete with cable television. There is also a movement to stop new construction at the site for HDTV support. The tower is orange and white because of the FAA. When it was constructed, it was the tallest structure in San Francisco.

Here's a lame ascii art sketch of Sutro Tower (imagine it's an orange and white steel frame)

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Sources:
http://www.jimprice.com/sutro/
http://sutro.org/

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