Bay Bridge light display dazzles San Francisco
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."
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