Urban Fold

Trying to Preserve a Piece of San Francisco History

San Francisco's Coit Tower is one of the city's historic and iconic buildings, and it's also home to a collection of historic fresco paintings of Depression-era California. But the building and its paintings are falling apart.

"Mineral blooms on the concrete pillar's interior walls, a byproduct of this city's legendary fog, have marred the earth- and jewel-toned images. Their surfaces bear chips and scratches from the indiscreet hands of countless visitors. The ceiling plaster is peeling. The lighting is dim.

'San Francisco cannot continue to position itself as a great city of arts and culture when it behaves this way,' former state librarian and California historian Kevin Starr said after admiring the frescoes during a recent tour with friends. 'Imagine if we treated Rockefeller Center like this.'

Starr's voice is the latest in a rising chorus of concern over conditions at Coit Tower."

Neighborhood groups and local preservationists are calling on the city to preserve the art within the tower, and a preservationist has been called out to assess the damage.

Thanks to Nate Berg

Full Story: Hard times for a tower and its murals

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