Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 11 / 15 March 2018

Supe Dufty wants to improve Castro historical marker for Harvey Milk

Last July local gay blogger Michael Petrelis did a walking tour of the Castro and photographed various LGBT historical markers in the city’s gayborhood. Among his collection that he posted to his blog was the the bronze marker the city placed in front of the building where slain gay rights leader Supervisor Harvey Milk had his camera shop and campaign headquarters on Castro Street.

The plaque (seen in above photo) is “almost-impossible to read,” wrote Petrelis.¬† “One has to really be looking to notice it.”

That could soon change if out Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who holds the seat Milk once served in at City Hall, achieves his goal of laying in the ground a far larger – and more noticeable to passersby – historical marker this spring.

As part of the city’s celebrations of the state’s first official Harvey Milk Day on May 22 – timed to coincide with Milk’s birthday – Dufty would like to unveil a new sidewalk plaque in front of the store at 575 Castro Street, now home to gift shop Given.

“Since the film so many people come looking for Harvey’s camera store. The current sidewalk plaque is the size of a piece of paper,” said Dufty, referring to the Oscar-winning film Milk, which was released in the fall of 2008 and shot on location in the Castro. “A lot of people miss it. I thought what a great opportunity to make the plaque more visible and to use the plaque to draw attention to the mural on the second floor.”

The painting depicts Harvey Milk, who lived above his shop, looking out the window. Milk won election to his supervisor seat in November of 1977, becoming the first out person elected to public office in a major American city.

A year later he was assassinated along with then-Mayor George Moscone inside City Hall by former board colleague  Dan White, a former firefighter upset at not being given back his supervisor seat after he had resigned from it.

Last year gay state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), who also once served in Milk’s supervisor seat, pushed through the bill creating the world’s first state holiday in honor of an openly gay LGBT person. As the inaugural Harvey Milk Day approaches, plans to mark the occassion are being made throughout the state.

The laying of the new historical marker in the Castro would occur Saturday, May 22 following a diversity breakfast that is planned in San Francisco that day to honor Milk. Dufty said he is in talks with both the city’s Arts Commission and Department of Public Works about what approvals are needed to switch out the smaller bronze plaque now in the sidewalk.

He said the Castro’s Community Benefit District has agreed to pay for the new marker but that he did not yet have an estimate of what it would cost.

— Matthew S. Bajko, February 12, 2010 @ 3:35 pm PST
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