The Bay Lights: World's Largest LED Sculpture in San Francisco

by  Blane Bachelor | Jan 31, 2013
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco, CA / ibsky/iStock

Last year, the Bay Bridge in San Francisco marked its 75th birthday, a date that was overshadowed by the 75th birthday of its more famous sister span across the bay, the Golden Gate Bridge.

But come March, the Bay Bridge will shine as one of the Bay Area’s most brilliant tourist attractions when a spectacular art installation called the Bay Lights will illuminate the bridge’s western side with 25,000 individually programmable, energy-efficient white LED lights. It’s expected to be the world’s largest LED light sculpture, at 1.8 miles in length and 500 feet high.

The project, by world-renowned artist Leo Villareal, is scheduled to be unveiled on March 5 in a “Grand Lighting” ceremony. The installation will stay for two years, offering visitors and locals alike a fantastic – and free! – experience in a city that can be hard on the wallet.

Recently, some testing on the project dazzled passers-by in San Francisco, according to news reports. When the project is unveiled, it will stay lit every night for about seven hours. It will be viewable from multiple locations in San Francisco and points to the north, but not by vehicles crossing the bridge.

The massive project is supported by individual patrons, and dedicated solar panels installed by a California-based company will offset all energy used by the lights. However, more than $2.2 million is still needed to finish construction of the project, and to that end, organizers recently announced several gift packages associated with Valentine’s Day, starting at $50, that let donors name and dedicate lights and receive project-related memorabilia.

For more trip-planning information, see our San Francisco destination guide.

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