The beams of light, which emulate the shape and orientation of the Twin Towers, can be seen from sixty miles away.
Called Tribute in Lights, the installation was first presented six months after the World Trade Center attacks. They have been re-created at every 9/11 anniversary since.
The beams appear to rise from Ground Zero but are actually shone from a rooftop four blocks away. They originate from 88 giant searchlights split into two 48-foot squares.
Shooting four miles into the sky the 7,000 watt lights are considered to be some of the strongest shafts of light ever projected onto the night sky.
They were turned on just before sunset on September 11 and were due to be swithced off at dawn the following day.
Gustavo Bonevardi is one of the artists who originally came up with the idea of using beams to recreate the image of the towers.
“It seemed to be a very easy quick thing. And at the same token we never really thought of it those days as a memorial.”
“For us it was really a way of inspiring the city and more than anything else it was a symbol of perseverance and endurance, something that really reflected the human spirit.” Bonevardi added.
The project was originally going to be named “Towers of Light”, but the victims’ families felt that the name emphasized the buildings destroyed instead of the people killed.
On clear nights, the lights could be seen from over 60 miles away, visible in all of New York City and most of suburban Northern New Jersey and Long Island, Fairfield County, Connecticut, Westchester County, Orange County and Rockland County, New York.
The beams were clearly visible from the terrace at Century Country Club in Purchase, New York, from at least as far west as western Morris County, in Flanders, New Jersey, at least as far as the barrier beach of Fire Island, and as far south near Trenton, New Jersey in nearby Hamilton. Since 2008, the generators that power Tribute in Light have been fueled with biodiesel made from recycled cooking oil.
The lights have caused confusion for thousands of migrating birds, trapping them in the beams, and requiring that the lights be switched off for 20 minute periods to allow the birds to escape. To ensure the lights do not affect migrating birds, the Municipal Art Society works with the New York City Audubon on the illumination. [via The Telegraph (UK)]