Across U.S., Storefronts Boarded Up Ahead Of Election Day City authorities have not recommended such measures, but building and store owners say they are taking precautions in case of widespread unrest following Tuesday's election.
NPR logo A Sign Of The Times: Across U.S., City Storefronts Boarded Up Ahead Of Election

A Sign Of The Times: Across U.S., City Storefronts Boarded Up Ahead Of Election

A man walks past a boarded-up window of a Louis Vuitton store in San Francisco on Sunday. Jeff Chiu/AP hide caption

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Jeff Chiu/AP

A man walks past a boarded-up window of a Louis Vuitton store in San Francisco on Sunday.

Jeff Chiu/AP

Plywood window coverings have blanketed high-end shopping areas of big U.S. cities ahead of Tuesday's election.

It's an eerie sight in a country built on the idea of a peaceful transition of power. In fact, that kind of signal is exactly why city authorities have generally advised business owners not to board up, promising stepped-up security measures.

Still, plywood panels are dotting major streets in Boston and New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Store owners are on edge from break-ins during the summer, when looters took advantage of a nationwide wave of civil unrest following the police killing of George Floyd.

A person walks past a boarded-up CVS drugstore in Boston on Oct. 31. Michael Dwyer/AP hide caption

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Michael Dwyer/AP

A person walks past a boarded-up CVS drugstore in Boston on Oct. 31.

Michael Dwyer/AP

In the nation's capital, some new boards went up alongside some old ones on storefronts that have remained boarded for months now, many sprouting murals, memorials and graffiti art.

In Washington, D.C., a mural of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on boards protecting a building on I street in preparation for possible protests after the election tomorrow. Tyrone Turner/WAMU hide caption

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Tyrone Turner/WAMU

In Washington, D.C., a mural of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on boards protecting a building on I street in preparation for possible protests after the election tomorrow.

Tyrone Turner/WAMU

The District of Columbia's guidance for businesses did not recommend boarding up for the election, and city authorities said they were not aware of any credible threats of violence as of late last week.

"While we intend to remain open where possible, out of an abundance of caution the windows of select stores in key cities will be boarded in anticipation of potential election related activity," luxury retailer Tiffany said in a statement to NPR.

The Celine store stands boarded up in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Nov. 1. Chris Delmas/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Chris Delmas/AFP/Getty Images

The Celine store stands boarded up in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Nov. 1.

Chris Delmas/AFP/Getty Images

A spokesperson for Macy's said the windows on its Herald Square store in New York City "were previously scheduled to be dark this week in setup for our annual holiday displays. Out of an abundance of caution, we are implementing additional security measures at several of our stores."

A representative of Target also cited an abundance of caution. "We are taking precautionary steps to ensure the safety of our stores," she said. "This may [include] boarding in some locations."

Walmart last week temporarily pulled guns and ammunition off shelves, prompting speculation that the retailer was also heeding possible fallout from the election. But the retailer reversed its decision and brought firearms back to sales floors on Friday.