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2,600 Visitors Climb California Tower Since Reopening

Climbing Balboa Park's California Tower

This video is a first-person account of climbing the California Tower at the San Diego Museum of Man in Balboa Park.

San Diego native Linda Eng said it's been on her bucket list to climb the iconic California Tower at Balboa Park.

On her 62nd birthday, Eng finally checked it off her list.

After being closed for 80 years, the California Tower at the San Diego Museum of Man reopened on Jan. 1 and has since attracted more than 2,600 visitors, including Eng and her family.

"My daughter surprised me with a tour for my birthday today," said Eng, who visited the seven-story tower with her daughter and two grandchildren on Friday.

"I found that it was opening a couple of months ago and I told her that's been on my bucket list forever. I was raised mainly in downtown San Diego, so I've always seen this and wish you could go inside of it. I'd always look up at it and say, 'One day, I hope you open before I leave this Earth.' And it did," Eng said.

She described the tour as "breathtaking."

Grant Barrett, marketing director for the San Diego Museum of Man, said many people have longed to climb the tower's 125 stairs to take in the views of the city.

"This is not just San Diegans who are delighted to see a building open up that they've long looked at," Barrett said. "But also we've had people from 20 different states come up in the tower."

The California Tower, which was built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, closed its doors in 1935. The tower was refurbished with the help of donations and reopened for this year's centennial celebration of the exposition.

Barrett said the museum has raised $2 million since the fall of 2014, but the goal is to raise $3 million so it can stay open.

"What we don't want to do is close the tower because we don't have the funding," Barrett said. "We have to have the resources, staff and time to keep it open, but we have the motivation to do it."

The California Tower offers tours daily, with the first one at 10:20 a.m. Admission prices range from $10 for students, service members and children, to $22.50 for adults. Each tour can have 12 people, including two guides.

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