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Bay Bridge light display dazzles San Francisco

March 6, 2013 |  8:00 am

It was a cold and rainy night in San Francisco, but the show still went on.

Thousands of people crowded the waterfront and connected online to watch Tuesday's formal debut of "The Bay Lights," the massive 25,000-light display on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The 1.8-mile long, 500-foot-tall piece — billed as the "world's largest LED light sculpture" — will glimmer nightly until 2015.

And the Bay Area greeted it with rave reviews.

"I was soaked to the bone and freezing but the bay lights were beautiful," wrote @aerialdomo on Twitter.

"Bay Bridge lights are completely cool," @e_ms said.

"wow.. WOW!! the new lights on the Bay bridge... awesome!" @splashroy wrote.

The project is the brainchild of Ben Davis, chairman of the nonprofit group Illuminate the Arts. Davis admitted a fondness for San Francisco's often-overlooked bridge — which opened six months earlier than its famous sister, the Golden Gate — and said the span's 75th anniversary provided a good opportunity to do something special.

"To be clear, I love the Golden Gate Bridge," he told The Times. "The Bay Bridge just has a special place in my heart."

Davis approached Leo Villareal, an artist known for his large-scale light structures, who created a piece Davis described as "totally extraordinary."

But not everyone was a fan.

"Bay Bridge Lights. Kinda cool I guess. Call me when they build a town on the bridge," @RodneyRamsey wrote.

"I must admit the lights on the Bay Bridge are spectacular but all those millions could of been put to better use.." @ladysysy said.

Total costs for the project are estimated at $8 million, which is being raised through private donations, according to the project's website. About $6 million has been collected so far, including new Yahoo Chief  Executive Marissa Mayer and Gmail developer Paul Buccheit.

Davis said his team was "delighted to unleash" their work.

"I think it's what art does well: It reminds us of what's already there," he said. "When a community comes together for a shared belief, anything is possible .... 'The Bay Lights' is proof."

Bay Bridge dazzles with new light display

Storified by @lanow's curation of social media· Wed, Mar 06 2013 07:23:14

Love the bay lights! #SF http://pic.twitter.com/WyEkiKhnRyjlyneck
Early morning run past the new "Bay Lights" art installation on Bay Bridge - San Fran - 25k undulating lights http://pic.twitter.com/Nres8j157cBob Carrigan
The bay lights look so niceMichelle
San Francisco in the rain with the bay lights. Got me going to sleep with a smile on my face.Emily Montanez
"The Bay Lights" Grand Lighting Ceremony. 1st day of an 2 year #LED #Art installation at #SF. #BayLights http://pic.twitter.com/9gvOBmwrDMRobert Reiz
Amazing view of the Bay Lights. Bay Bridge from SF's end. http://pic.twitter.com/RUDx3HlcnPJesúCristo of Aztlan
Those Bay Bridge lights are radMorgan Treeman
The new lights on the bay bridge are so amazing can't wait till I see them in person in a few weeks #bayareaJonathan Dunn
The Bay Lights lighting was pretty rainy. But still cool to see everyone out for it. http://pic.twitter.com/3YiNltCGXLbencochran
Giving the Golden Gate a run for its money. Bay Bridge Lights switch flipped tonight. http://pic.twitter.com/61B6gJYQojbobredell
Bay Lights!!! (More impressive in person.) http://pic.twitter.com/BtiNtB3Cmoerynnalice
i want to start a petition that will keep the city lights bay bridge project on going. our city is now that much more brighter #sfmark del rosario
Bay Lights! Soaking wet. http://pic.twitter.com/PpwvYZ7CFbhackyourcity
Checking out the Bay Lights :) http://pic.twitter.com/RJJUsfTZ5Idanzrr
Guaranteed someone proposed tonight at the bay lights unveiling.Achiles Marson
The Bay Lights from the roof of my building http://pic.twitter.com/tieqOj90QxErikWithFriends
 

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