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Say goodbye to San Francisco's iconic Coca-Cola sign

SF Gate logo SF Gate 10/26/2020 Mike Moffitt
a sign hanging off the side of a building: The towering Coca-Cola billboard is shown at the downtown connector of Interstate 80 and Highway 101 to the Bay Bridge in this Sept. 20, 2013, file photo. San Francisco has issued a work permit for removal of the landmark, which has greeted drivers since 1937. © George Rose, Getty Images

The towering Coca-Cola billboard is shown at the downtown connector of Interstate 80 and Highway 101 to the Bay Bridge in this Sept. 20, 2013, file photo. San Francisco has issued a work permit for removal of the landmark, which has greeted drivers since 1937.

The Coca-Cola billboard, a beacon for travelers in San Francisco since 1937, will soon disappear from the South of Market cityscape.

A work permit dated Monday, Oct. 26, for removal of the sign and its support structure at Fifth and Bryant streets was issued by the city. Crews erected a scaffolding for the job.

For decades, the glowing sign has greeted drivers traveling on the freeway to and from the Bay Bridge. It was one of longest actively operated commercial signs in San Francisco and among the most famous in city  history.

Coca-Cola will pay $100,000 to remove the sign, which rises 112 feet above street level.

Soaring rental costs reportedly prompted the beverage giant to take down the sign.

"While we, like many San Franciscans, will miss seeing the sign, we made the difficult decision to not renew the lease as part of our efforts to focus on other digital media platforms that support the growth of our overall beverage portfolio," Coca-Cola North America spokeswoman Dora Wong said in an email. "While the sign will not be visible, we remain committed to the San Francisco community through active support of many civic, cultural and charitable programs."

In a 1986 column, San Francisco Examiner bureau chief Eric Best wrote, “The Coca-Cola sign at Fifth and Bryant beat white and red like a giant heart, a neon reminder of the bright lights of Broadway.”

In a day or so, that heart will cease to beat, and San Francisco will lose an iconic landmark forever.

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