Officials announced today that a sizable crack on the north side of City Hall's main tower has prompted them to close the area to tours.

They believe the 12th-level balcony crack, which is visible from the ground, may be related to the earthquake that rattled the coast in late August.

"This is a cautionary tale for people to look at buildings and make sure they're safe," said Managing Director Richard Negrin, who said that City Hall was inspected after the quake but the crack is believed to have appeared sometime after.

Negrin said that, while the building is safe from any kind of catastrophic collapse, officials are worried about small pieces of debris falling. However, the cracked balcony faces a roof, so there is no danger to pedestrians.

 

"We had an inspection of all balcony areas and found no other cracks," said Deputy Public Property Commissioner Joe Palantino. He estimated the fissure to be about a half an inch wide.

Palantino said that the process of fixing the crack – which includes setting up scaffolding, loading wood dunnage onto the roof and pinning the stone together with anchors – will take about a month to complete. Workers will start at 7 a.m. tomorrow.

Tours of the tower will continue to be suspended pending a detailed inspection of the entire building. The rest of City Hall remains open for tours.

The crack was discovered Monday, when a worker noticed pieces of marble debris on the building's roof. Officials waited to suspend tower tours until an engineer inspected the crack and gave them a copy of his report today.

They said that, because the crack is apparently related to the earthquake, the city may be eligible for federal assistance to help defray the costs of repair.

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