Upper Darby — Though the shows will go on the icon is gone. The 100 year-old sign and ball atop the Tower Theater is being removed this week after engineers declared the steel structure unsafe.

“We recently went up there to light the letters and unfortunately we discovered the metal work was very rotted and not safe, said Dave Martino, owner of Martino Signs. “We spoke to some engineers and tried to get stuff repaired but the rot was starting to compress and it had to come down.”

Commuters on their way to work stared up and remembered the many concerts that they have seen at the music venue as they watched the ball being removed.

“It’s a shame to see it go,” said Terry Gibbs of Philadelphia as he made his way to work. “I’ve seen Neil Young, the Hooters there.”

“Upper Darby’s only iconic landmark,” said one man who did not wish to be identified. ”It’s a shame.”

“When the company first approached the township to request the necessary permits, I expressed my strong concern about the removal of the sign, which 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,” said Mayor Tom Micozzie on his Facebook page.

Asked if there were any plans to replace the sign Martino said, “I’m just the demo guy, you have to talk to Live Nation about that. We can’t evaluate the structure until the structure comes down.”

He did stress that the theater was not closing and would still be hosting shows.

Micozzie said the company has advised they will evaluate options to replace the sign once the existing structure had been removed and will be releasing a statement to that effect .

The 1700 pound stainless steel ball, which was originally perfectly round but nit is oblong and the letters are expected to be donated to a Lansdale music museum called EMEAPP, the Electronic Music Education Preservation Project in Lansdale.

The rotting steel structural tower will be cut up and scrapped. Work is expected to take two days.

Drew Raison, executive Director of EMEAPP said the 30,000 square foot museum has many rock and roll items including from ‘The Who’ and Frank Zappa. He said perhaps their most classic item was Keith Emerson’s Moog synthesizer. He was on hand to check out the removal.

“The ball originally was lighted inside,” said Martino. “It also had a ring of lights wrapping around. It’s sad but it would be horrible if it fell.”

To make his point Martino reached into the ball and removed a handful of rusted metal and crushed it like card board.

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