Daughter of Coit Tower Artist Bernard Zakheim: Keep Tower Public!

Read Ruth Gottstein’s scathing editorial in the SF Examiner on the need to keep Coit Tower and public parks free and open to the public. Gottstein is the 92-year-old daughter of Coit muralist Bernard Zakheim. She brilliantly connects the recent viral video of children being forced off of a playground in SF because of its semi-privatization with long standing conflicts over Coit Tower as a free and public space. To quote:

… Coit Tower murals were also entirely free to the city of San Francisco, funded entirely by federal taxpayer funds through New Deal programs.

 

Coit Tower has not even had a private concession there selling souvenirs for most of its life, since it was simply created at Lillie’s direction in her will “to beautify the city I have always loved.” Given the will of the voters to preserve Coit Tower and keep it from becoming privatized or over-commercialized, I would hope that the Recreation and Park Department, the supervisors and the mayor will get together and find a wiser way to protect this national treasure instead of over-commercializing it.

Similarly, rather than exclude San Francisco children and families from public parks that were paid for with public funds to allow people of all ages to recreate and play, I hope the Recreation and Park Department will find better ways to manage our parks than trying to monetize them.

Alex Tarr is an assistant professor of Geography in the department of Earth, Environment and Physics at Worcester State University and member of the Living New Deal board of directors.

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