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Neon Tribute Marks 40th Anniversary Of Milk's Historic Election

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The legacy of the late Harvey Milk is about to get a very special tribute.

In honor of the 40th anniversary of Milk's historic election to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, a special neon art work will be unveiled Wednesday night at the corner of Castro and Market.

"This project has special significance, both to the community, and to San Francisco," said Bill Concanon of Aargon Neon.

Ben Davis, who helped bring to life the lights on the Bay Bridge, is also involved in the project that will spell out in neon letters a memorable Milk phrase.

"This is a really important night - 40 years ago, when Milk was elected, as California's first openly gay elected official - he came back here," said Davis standing on the corner of what now is called Harvey Milk Plaza.

The corner has been the scene of both triumph and tragedy for the LGBT community. It's where Milk's election was celebrated and also the place where mourners gathered when Milk was assassinated by former Supervisor Dan White in 1978.

"So it really has grown up to be hallowed ground for the LGBT movement," said Andrea Aiello of the Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza. "Whenever there is a political issue - a celebration or a protest - people know, we're gonna meet at Harvey Milk Plaza."

Aiello's group has also recently selected a design that will completely transform the nearby Muni entrance to a living memorial to Milk.

"We are really excited about moving forward, with the community and with the city family to really re-create and re-imagine a new space," she said.

The project will require at least $10 million in private funds to complete.

"This neighborhood is changing, but we want to make sure that the history of the LGBT movement is maintained here, and that it still is hallowed ground and it still is sacred and we still recognize it," Aiello said.

The neon display will be the centerpiece of the project.

"I like it," Davis said. "It's a medium of the people, it's of the era when Milk was here. It's also made of glass, it's vulnerable, like we all are, and like Milk was himself."

"It is so beautiful in it's simplicity," Aiello added.

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