From the time Lillie Hitchcock Coit was ten years old, she would enthusiastically
chase Knickerbocker Engine 5 down the street, cheering them on – hardly proper behavior
for a young lady of the upper class! Eventually, she became an honorary member of
the firefighting squad, and even had her own helmet.
When she died in 1929, her will left a pile of money to construct a memorial to the
firefighters who died in the 1906 fire.
Contrary to urban legend, the 210-foot tower was never intended to be a firewatch
station, nor was it designed to resemble a firehose nozzle.