It’s hard to imagine traveling to 69th and Market streets in Upper Darby without the Tower Theater‘s namesake greeting you on the horizon. The iconic aerial, a curious mix of 1800s oil well and space-age orb with red light-up letters vertically descending to spell out T-O-W-E-R, is coming down today, the Inquirer reports. The removal follows engineering reports that the decades-old fixture had become structurally unsafe.
In a post on his personal Facebook page, Upper Darby Mayor Tom Micozzie shared that he was initially concerned about LiveNation’s request for permits to conduct the two-day removal project, as the sign “has become a landmark for 69th Street. However, an independent analysis by the township’s engineers confirmed that severe deterioration of the metal base and structure could not be corrected and posed a hazard to public safety.
“The company has advised me that the sphere and letters will be donated to a music museum,” Micozzie continues. “In addition, the company has advised me that it plans to evaluate options to replace the iconic sign once the existing structure had been removed.”
Tower Theater general manager Trenton Banks told the Inquirer that the decision to remove the Tower’s tower came “in light of the sign’s age, structural integrity and significant public safety concerns voiced by our independent engineering firm and other experts.”
The 92-year-old theater has had various lives over the years, from vaudeville to a movie theater, and has been a concert venue since the 1970s. It famously played hosts to extended residencies by David Bowie (five nights in 1974, one of which resulted in a live album) and Bruce Springsteen (one night in 1975).
The Tower’s calendar has been relatively light in recent years, ramping down when LiveNation opened The Fillmore in 2015 and even moreso when the promoters opened The Met last December. But it remains active, playing host over the past year to concerts by Death Cab for Cutie, and The War on Drugs, as well as a reading by surviving Beastie Boys Mike Diamond and Adam Horowitz. On the horizon, Brian Wilson performs at The Tower with The Zombies in September, while The Offspring and Deep Purple each have headlining concerts in October. Find details on those shows at the XPN Concert Calendar.
(h/t Philadelphia Inquirer)
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