Columbus Tower

The History Of The Columbus Tower

Despite the 1907 finish, building work had begun before the San Francisco Earthquake the previous year, but extensive damage to the building site, and the rest of the city, slowed down the construction considerably. For a relatively small building such as Columbus tower, with the extensive workforce available in San Francisco at that time, taking more than a year to complete the building was slightly longer than would have been expected.

The top floor initially housed the headquarters of the notorious Abe Ruef, a local political figure at the time. Also featuring early in the building’s history is the restaurant ‘Caesar’s’, which is the restaurant widely credited with the creation of the popular Caesar Salad. Despite its flourishing business, the restaurant was closed down during prohibition under the Eighteenth Amendment. The Kingston Trio owned the building and used it as their corporate headquarters during the 1960s. They built a recording studio in the basement which they used themselves and for many other artists including the We Five.

By the early 1970s the building was falling gradually into a state of mild disrepair. The film director Francis Ford Coppola chose then to purchase the building, and renovate it into the building that can be seen today. Coppola then set up his own business in the building, and remains there to this day.[3]

American Zoetrope is a studio founded by Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas. Founded on December 12, 1969,[1] American Zoetrope was an early adopter of digital filmmaking, including some of the earliest uses of HDTV. The studio has produced not only the films of Coppola (Apocalypse Now, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Tetro, etc.) but also George Lucas’s pre-Star Wars films, THX 1138 and American Graffiti, as well as many others by such cutting-edge directors as Jean-Luc Godard, Akira Kurosawa, Wim Wenders, and Godfrey Reggio (Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi). American Zoetrope’s most recent release is the 2010 film Somewhere, starring Stephen Dorff, and written, produced and directed by Coppola’s daughter, Sofia Coppola.
Four films produced by American Zoetrope are included in the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Films. American Zoetrope-produced films have received 15 Academy Awards and 68 nominations. Lost in Translation (2002), written and directed by Sofia Coppola, won 2003’s Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
Coppola named the studio after a zoetrope he was given in the late 1960s by the filmmaker and collector of early film devices, Mogens Skot-Hansen. The company was also known as Zoetrope Studios from 1979 until 1990. “Zoetrope” is also the name by which Coppola’s quarterly fiction magazine, Zoetrope: All-Story, is often known.
The company’s headquarters is in the historic Sentinel Building in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. In the building lobby Coppola operates a popular small Italian café featuring Rubicon Estate wine and memorabilia from his films. The neighborhood is well-known for its cafes and its writers. Coppola wrote much of the screenplay for The Godfather in the nearby Caffe Trieste, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Books is located across the street from the Sentinel Building.
American Zoetrope is now owned entirely by Coppola’s son and daughter, directors Roman Coppola and Sofia Coppola.