Harvey Milk plaques safely back in front of Milk’s old camera shop

Plaque of Harvey Milk's profile (Photos: Copyright © 2014 Gerard Koskovich)
Plaque of Harvey Milk's profile (Photos: Copyright © 2014 Gerard Koskovich)

Gerard Koskovich, founding member of the GLBT Historical Society, was on hand last Friday to snap some photos of the bronze plaques commemorating Harvey Milk’s legacy being replaced in front of his old camera store (now a Human Rights Campaign shop and “action center”) at 575 Castro Street.

The plaques, one depicting Harvey Milk’s profile with a quote that reads, “Burst down those closet doors once and for all and stand up and start to fight” and the other that includes a short bio and his famous quote, “You gotta give’em hope!”, were removed in April to make way for construction on the new sidewalks along Castro Street as part of the Castro Streetscape Improvement Project.

When the plaques were removed, Public Works crews inspected the soil that was under the larger plaque as stories circulating in the local queer community suggested that some of Harvey Milk’s ashes or a piece of his ponytail or some other sort of memento had been placed on the ground before the plaque was installed —- though there was no sign of anything but soil and concrete rubble, photog Dan Nicoletta confirmed that a small sprinkling of ashes from Harvey Milk had been dispersed in the concrete surrounding the smaller plaque. Public Works crews preserved the concrete around the smaller plaque in case Milk’s ashes fused with the concrete.

According to Koskovich, workers initially tested locating the plaques close to the curb, but based on advice from stakeholders who turned out for the event, the contractor agreed to move the plaques closer to the building. The concern was that there wouldn’t have been enough space for visitors to safely stop on the sidewalk, read the plaques, and take photos.

Take a look at the photos:

Roy McKenzie

Roy has been a Castro resident since 2010 and is passionate about drag queens, bicycling, and food. Follow his babbling on Twitter.

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6 Responses

  1. It’s actually meant to look that bad? I had assumed from the cheep looking concrete and haphazard placement that the smaller plaque was only placed there temporarily until the rest of the sidewalk was done.

    I’m disappointed that for something so important to the neighborhood’s history they could not even be bothered to properly center the plaque and instead just jammed it right up against the bigger plaque, that some actual time and care was put into properly centering.

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    • Icarus says:

      I don’t know anything official, but I was under the impression that it was temporary, and that the concrete poured over the last few weeks would have to be replaced after Pride. Can anyone clarify?

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      • There’s a lot of temporary concrete fill, plus some asphalt, to fill the gaps between the old and new, but this is the entire tile of concrete that surrounded the smaller or the plaques. The newer one is centered in a tile of the new sidewalk concrete.

        But rather than centering just the smaller plaque in the new sidewalk, or even centering the entire old concrete block, it’s justified bottom right, so it protrudes about an inch into the next tile to the top and to the left making it look like the new sidewalk has already been torn up and filled with a bad patch job. They also placed them upside down because you have to walk all the way out to the curb and turn around to read them.

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        • Joe says:

          The crews had to save the original concrete around the small plaque. It is believed by many in the neighborhood to contain some of Harvey’s ashes. I learned this information from a gentlemen from DPW, he stated they did the best they could given the circumstance.

          The crews will be back after Pride and the 4th of July holiday to continue working.

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  2. Here’s an annotated photo which shows what the temporary fill looks like and what is going in at least some of those filled in spots. You’ll find a lot of the fill is around utility poles that will be removed once the new ones are and up and running.


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  3. sjg says:

    I suppose it all looks a bit odd because it’s in a transitional stage.

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