Lonely Planet review
Built by shady political boss Abe Ruef in 1905, Columbus Tower was finished just in time to be reduced to its steel skeleton in the 1906 earthquake. The new copper cladding was still shiny in 1907 when not-so-honest Abe was convicted of bribing city supervisors. By the time he emerged bankrupt from San Quentin State Prison, the cupola was oxidizing green.
Grammy-winning folk group The Kingston Trio bought the tower in the 1960s and the Grateful Dead recorded in the basement. Since the 1970s, Columbus Tower has been owned by Francis Ford Coppola, and film history has been made here by Coppola's American Zoetrope filmmaking studio, The Joy Luck Club director Wayne Wang and Academy Award–winning actor/director Sean Penn. Ground-floor Zoetrope Cafe features Coppola wines and decent desserts – as a character famously advised in Coppola's film The Godfather , take the cannoli.