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California Tower In Balboa Park Will Reopen To Public Jan. 1

Photo caption: The California Tower is seen from Alcazar Garden in this undated photo.

Photo credit: Richard Benton / Balboa Park

The California Tower is seen from Alcazar Garden in this undated photo.

Closed for 80 years, the California Tower at the Museum of Man in Balboa Park will reopen to the public on Jan. 1, museum officials announced Tuesday.

"This is transformational not just for the Museum of Man, but also for all of Balboa Park," said museum CEO Micah Parzen. "This will be the one experience all visitors, tourists and residents alike­ remember forever."

The 150-foot tower, which offers sweeping views of San Diego and can, in turn, be seen from many points in the city, was closed after the second Panama-California Exposition in 1935.

The museum's Grant Barrett told City News Service that there are no records that adequately explain why the tower was sealed off. The structure has undergone a seismic retrofit and, while it might need another retrofit in 2016, it appears to be in pretty good condition.

The tower is 100 years old and, like many of the original structures in the park, was built for the first Panama-California Exposition in 1915. The reopening is expected to be a major attraction for the celebration of the park's centennial next year.

The museum also announced a campaign to raise $3 million to pay for remodeling of the tower, safety improvements, a long-term tower fund and for investments in other parts of the institution.

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