San Diego

Temporary Closure of Balboa Park's California Tower Starts Feb. 18

The tower will be retrofitted for better earthquake protection

The iconic California Tower at the San Diego Museum of Man in Balboa Park will temporarily close to the public Monday as the city begins its planned seismic retrofit of the historic building.

The museum announced last November a construction project was planned for 2019 to reinforce the tower based on the latest seismic building codes. The retrofitting will help fortify the tower against any potential damage should an earthquake strike in San Diego, and help preserve the local landmark.

The City of San Diego said the seismic retrofit would take between seven to 10 months. Last month, the museum confirmed the closure of the California Tower would begin on Feb. 18. The project will not change the appearance of the tower and most of the construction will take place in the tower's interior.

The California Tower was officially opened in 1915 as part of the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park. The tower closed to the public in 1935, shortly after the California Pacific International Exposition.

Eighty years later, the California Tower re-opened to the public for tours, offering visitors a chance to climb its seven floors of stairs to the top, where a panoramic view of San Diego awaits. Typically, those tours cost between $16 and $23 per person.

The Museum of Man said the tours would be on hiatus while the tower is closed for the retrofitting project; for now, tours will only be offered through Feb. 17.

The tower’s electronic carillon, a 100-chime instrument that plays those recognizable chimes that ring throughout Balboa Park every day, will be temporarily moved to keep it safe during construction. Once the tower project is completed, the carillon will be returned to its original location.

Meanwhile, the museum and many of its exhibits, including "Cannibals: Myth & Reality" and "PostSecret," will remain open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

General admission to the museum will remain at its regular price of $13 for adults and $10 for kids ages 6 to 17 but the museum will include the "Cannibals" exhibit for free with admission during the project.

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