The Bay Lights – San Francisco

Pier 7 in San Francisco

Pier 7 in San Francisco

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most well-known landmarks in San Francisco. People throughout the world recognize it as a marvel of engineering and an architectural wonder. However, now it’s time for the San Francisco Bay Bridge to get a place in the spotlight– at least, a place in the LED light.

For its 75th anniversary, the Bay Bridge has been lit up with thousands of LED lights. World renowned artist Leo Villareal has programed the lights to create a never repeating display of sparkling designs.  It took workers several months to string the 25,000 lights on the bridge and connect them to several Mac Mini computers embedded in the bridge. The show runs from dusk until 2 AM, and it is live streamed daily on the project’s web site. However, the live stream pales in comparison to the real thing.

We went down to Pier 7 to see the lights. With convenient parking across the street (make sure to bring change for the meter!) and a good view of the lights, we’d recommend this spot to anyone in the area. Many near by restaurants also provide a good view. After finding a good spot on the bench and getting out our camera, we waited for dusk to fall so we could watch the lights.

The Bay Lights are elegant, subtle, and romantic. The lights aren’t set to music. They don’t display an image. They simply turn on and off in an abstract pattern. Looking at them is like looking for cloud shapes in the sky: to one person, the lights might look like rain. To another, the lights might depict the waves in an ocean. The Bay Lights aren’t an in-your-face spectacle; they’re a subtle, understated art installation. While the lights aren’t a Disney fireworks show, they still manage to be beautiful and an experience worth seeing. If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, I strongly recommend coming to see the Bay Lights.


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