9/11: World Trade Center “Tribute in Light”

September 11, 2012 — Leave a comment

World Trade Center's tribute in light

World Trade Center tribute in light close up

Ted Sabarese photo lighting diagram of tribute in light


If you live in NYC, anywhere near it, have visited, watch the news or have orbited earth from a space shuttle, chances are you’ve seen the two, extraordinary beams of blue light cast in remembrance of the September 11 attacks.

I was here that day in 2001 and watched from the roof of my apartment building as the Trade Centers fell. I remember vividly my feelings of sadness, fear and confusion. I also remember how, in the following days and months, New Yorkers came together like nothing I’d experienced previously. It was a different place in so many ways.

It’s funny how the little things have ingrained themselves in my memory. There was an eerie silence as cars no longer honked their horns. Instead of walking quickly on the streets, head down, you looked others in the eye and said hello. It was okay to smile silently at a stranger as you both searched a wall filled with pictures of the missing. People said thank you and please. And everyone helped others in any way they could to find normalcy again, in such a trying time. Thinking back, as I do every year, makes me proud of New York City and the people who live here.

And that leads me to these blue lights.

Not that I ever forget, but the Tribute in Light helps inform me that it’s time again to remember and reflect. I thought it would be fitting for Guess the Lighting to reveal how the installation was designed, using 88 lights.

Lighting: The art installation, produced annually by the Municipal Art Society of New York, uses 88 search lights to create the two, vertical columns of light. The beams reach more than 4 miles into the sky. This was originally supposed to be a temporary exhibit but has continued on. There are two, high-intensity light squares incorporating 44 search lights in each. Since 2008, the Tribute of Light has been powered by generators running on biodiesel fuel made from recycled cooking oil.

Comments: The intensity of the lights has been a problem with thousands of migrating birds. Many of them become trapped in the beams and will not fly out. To ensure the birds’ safety, the lights are switched off for twenty minute periods, allowing them to escape.