Take a Walk in Harvey Milk's Shoes

Group offers tours of historical sites

Sometimes lost in the immortalization of Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay individuals to be elected to a high public office in a major U.S. city, is that the man was actually a human being who walked the streets of San Francisco.

The new Gus Van Sant movie “Milk,” which was filmed in San Francisco, has brought Mr. Milk back into the national spotlight. San Francisco has has long had exhibits and tributes to honor the former supervisor, including a streetcar.  A local group is also making sure that locals and tourists alike can take a walk in Harvey Milk's shoes.

The long-established Cruisin' the Castro historical walking tours introduced the Harvey Milk Tour in November last year. The tour is only offered on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Milk” has been nominated for eight Academy Awards including best picture; actor in a leading role; actor in a supporting role; costume design; directing; film editing; music; and original screenplay. Much of the movie - starring Sean Penn, James Franco, Emile Hirsch and Josh Brolin - was shot in San Francisco’s Castro District and at City Hall.

The filming took eight weeks and often used extras in large crowd scenes, such as a re-enactment of Milk's "Hope Speech" at the 1978 Gay Freedom Day Parade. Many of the extras were present at the actual events. 

The tour starts in Harvey Milk Plaza, on Market and Castro streets, where a photo time line of the supervisor's life is installed then the tour moves on to Milk’s former home, his photo shop, then to his campaign headquarters and the final resting place of his cremated ashes.

The tour also includes admission to the new Harvey Milk exhibit at the GLBT Historical Society and public transit from the Castro to City Hall where Milk worked and is honored with a sculpture.

For more information on the tour visit the Cruising the Castro Web site.

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