The Giant Coca-Cola Sign is Getting Torn Down

A permit issued by the City of San Francisco allows the removal of the giant Coca-Cola billboard at 701 Bryant St., which has stood for 83 years.  (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

It has stood for 83 years, redundantly selling the world's most-advertised soft drink. The Coca-Cola sign is not a symbol of San Francisco any more than the name “Oracle Park” is a symbol of San Francisco, but it's towered over the city since 1937, visible mainly to the long line of cars slogging through Bay Bridge rush-hour traffic on the raised freeway.

And now it's coming down. Crews began dismantling the Coca-Cola sign yesterday.

After a small parade of nostalgia and two- to three-word Facebook comments lamenting its disappearance, life in San Francisco will return to normal. But even though it was of no real consequence, the Coca-Cola sign was a thing, in your range of vision, for decades. We get used to the dependable presence of these things, and when they're gone, like any landmark, disorientation ensues. A brief news item like this appears in order to prepare you for the absence, the next time you drive past.

The Details:

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- The 30-by-70-foot sign was erected in 1937, shortly after the construction of the Bay Bridge.
- Coca-Cola is spending $100,000 to tear it down, with no plans for preservation.
- A permit for the sign's removal was issued by the City of San Francisco on Oct. 20.
- Supervisor Matt Haney is trying to keep it in one piece, somehow.
- Tommy's Joynt is still alive.