Tower viewers

Today’s Zippy takes us to a scenic lookout and its technology, the tower viewer:

(#1) Binoculars / Telescope on a stalk

Bill Griffith exploits the anthropoid appearance of the device to turn this one into a speaking, grinning, yellow-haired, cheeky, creepy being.

The actual device:

(#2) Coin-operated Tower Optical binoculars in Utah

From Wikipedia:

A tower viewer is a telescope or binoculars permanently mounted on a stalk. The device magnifies objects seen through its lenses, allowing users to see farther and more clearly than they could with the naked eye or with less powerful viewing devices. Tower viewers are typically metallic and most swivel horizontally and vertically (within given axes of rotation) to permit a range of view. The viewing machines are commonly placed in tourist destinations and scenic lookouts for the purpose of viewing attractions and events of interest; they are also used in residential, business, recreational and government locations for the purposes of surveillance and safety monitoring.

There’s no widely used term for this device. The Wikipedia article lists a huge number of terms, starting with general terms (binoculars, telescope, viewer) that have to be understood as having more specific reference in context. More from the list:

observation binoculars, observation telescope, observation viewer; scenic telescope, scenic viewer; spyglass viewer;  stationary binoculars, stationary telescope; tower binoculars, tower scope, tower telescope

Or tower viewer, the semi-technical term I’ve adopted here.

Note that none of these compounds are entirely semantically transparent. Nor, for that matter, are the compounds scenic lookout and scenic overlook, which are my usual terms for a high place for viewing scenery (perhaps through a tower viewer). From Wikipedia:

A scenic viewpoint, also called an observation point, viewpoint or viewing point, or, in North America, a [(scenic)] lookout, scenic overlook or vista point, is a high place where people can view scenery (often with binoculars) and photograph it. Scenic overlooks are typically created alongside mountain roads, often as a simple turnouts where motorists can pull over onto pavement, gravel, or grass on the right-of-way. Many are larger, having parking areas, while some (typically on larger highways) are off the road completely.

Two of my favorite scenic lookout points in the Bay Area, both at Lands End in San Francisco (higher up and lower down):

(#3)

(#4)

(From a Foursquare page with 15 scenic lookouts/overlooks in San Francisco.)

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