During the day the Empire State Building (ESB), in New York City, is an impressive iconic building; at night it is even more. The ESB on a typical night is bathed in white lights, also called its “signature white.” Then on special nights it can be a wide variety of colors. (Please see slideshow.)
Evolution of the Lights
- The ESB first lighting of the top of the building was in 1956. They installed four large beacon lights and the lights where known as the “The Freedom Lights.” This was a symbol of welcome and freedom to its visitors.
- In 1964, floodlights replaced the beacons. This update was done for the New York World’s Fair.
- With the energy crisis of 1973 the tower lights were turned off in November, until July of 1974.
- To honor the United States’ 200th anniversary in 1976, the building installed colored floodlights – red, white and blue. This was the start of using color to honor/acknowledge special groups, holidays and events. (See Lighting Partners Program.)
- ESB will consider requests by filling out the “Tower Lighting Request” form. This can not be for personal events like weddings and so forth.
- With the advent of LED lighting, ESB, in 2012, was one of the first to upgrade their lights including their exterior lights. With the use of computers and LED lights they can now create up to 16 million (quoted from ESB website) different colors. Just think of the possibilities. They truly can create light shows and some are synchronized to music and broadcast simultaneously on iHeartMedia stations. For example, the Halloween light show is one that should not be missed.
- The ESB is one of the most recognized iconic landmarks in New York City and possible the world (thanks to movies like King Kong). Day or night with its art deco design and exterior lighting it is a destination to millions of visitors each year. Bryant Park offers a great view of the ESB and it is only a short walk from Times Square. Add seeing ESB at night to the list of things to see and do in NYC. Be sure to check the lighting calendar often, as it is subject to change. Calendar.
A little about the Empire State Building
The Empire State Building was built in the 1930’s. The building is well known for its art deco design and the famous observatory. There are actually two floors that afford amazing views of Manhattan. There is one on the 86th floor (The Main Deck) and is the highest “open air” observatory in New York City. The lesser-known observatory of the ESB is the very top on the 102nd floor (The Top Deck). It is not open air, and is a little tight on space, but affords even more amazing views from Central Park to the Statue of Liberty.
The ESB Observatory adult tickets range from $32 to $85 (as of March 2016). For complete ticket information – ticket.
Trivia – The Empire State Building’s Lights from their website –
- 1930: On March 17, construction of the Empire State Building begins. Under the direction of architects Shreve, Lamb & Harmon Associates, the framework rises 4 ½ stories per week.
- 1931: On May 1, President Hoover presses a button in Washington, D.C. officially opening and turning on the Empire State Building’s lights.
- 1933: The movie King Kong is released in New York City on March 2.
- 2004: The tower lights are dimmed for 15 minutes to mark the death of actress Fay Wray, who starred in the 1933 movie King Kong.
List of some of the special lighting scheduled for March 2016
- Mar 08, Magenta in honor of UN Women and HeForShe Arts Week.
- Mar 10, Orange in honor of the National Kidney Foundation and World Kidney Day.
- Mar 17, Orange, white and green in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.
- Mar 19, Faint sparkle (8:30-9:30 pm) in honor of World Wildlife Foundation & Earth Hour.
By the way if looking for the visitors’ center, it is on the second floor.