The Real Reason San Francisco Is Tearing Down Its Iconic Coca-Cola Sign

Sometimes the best advertising is the oldest. When asked to explain why it decided to tear down its iconic electronic sign on Bryant Street in San Francisco, Coca-Cola told the San Francisco Chronicle it is focusing instead on its digital media platforms. But many Californians are sad to see the 83-year-old sign go. "It brings a lot of memories and nostalgia, and it's a quintessential San Francisco thing," said Matt Haney, who is on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. "It's hard to imagine a better advertisement for Coca-Cola." Coca-Cola is paying $100,000 to remove the sign, and that work began on Monday, October 26.

The real reason the iconic sign is coming down is money. Coca-Cola's lease with the antique store that holds the sign up was expiring, and the beverage company and the building's owner couldn't reach an agreement on a new lease. Haney said the city tried but couldn't get the two sides to come to terms. According to Bay Area blog Broke-Ass Stuart, Coca-Cola's contract with the sign maker says the sign shall be destroyed. The city would still like to preserve it somehow, somewhere, according to the Chronicle.

Some San Franciscans will miss the Coca-Cola sign; others, not so much

San Franciscans took to Twitter to mourn the loss of the huge, flashing-neon sign, which was actually updated with high-efficiency LED lights in 2009 (via SFist). The old sign was something reassuring and constant during a time of rapid change in the city. "When I was a kid, I loved seeing the iconic Coca-Cola sign as our family drove into the city from the East Bay. Hard to believe it's coming down," Alex Savidge tweeted. Alaina Yee also joined the Twitter conversation about the sign: "Memories of it are woven through all my childhood memories of growing up in SF — feels just like one more piece of pre-tech San Francisco that we've lost."

While many remembered the Coca-Cola sign fondly, others were short on nostalgia. "Let's be smarter about this stuff, SF and not spend public resources to promote corporate advertising just because we think it's cute," Nick Cho tweeted. And @guatephill650 tweeted that a billboard getting priced out of San Francisco is a relatively trivial problem: "People in the Bay more upset about a Coca-Cola sign leaving San Francisco than SF natives leaving, get your priorities straight."