The world’s skylines are changing. They’re no longer bathed in white light or neon. Thanks to new programmable LEDs, today’s city skylines are transformed into rainbows of light promoting good causes, events and company brands in every color imaginable that can change nightly.
But first let’s take a look at how lighting in cities got its start. Skylines and exhibitions played an early role in promoting lighting. Perhaps one of the most notable points in the history of lighting is the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893.
The Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 set the stage for promoting the wonder of electric lighting. In fact it was a big part in the race to light the world between Westinghouse backing Nicola Tesla (inventor of alternating current) and General Electric, owned by JP Morgan and Thomas Edison (inventor of light bulbs and direct current).
Westinghouse outbid Edison for the contract to light and power the fair. More than 200,000 white incandescent bulbs, using Tesla’s polyphase alternating current system, amazed crowds as they lit up the world’s fair at night. How did they beat out Edison? They under-bid Edison and GE banned them from using Edison light bulbs in retaliation for losing the bid. To light the fair, Westinghouse and Tesla sidestepped Edison’s light bulb patents with a new double stopper light bulb.
Here’s a photo from the Chicago World’s Fair at night. Just imagine how impressive this display of light must have been to a population used to gas lights and candles.
Back to today. LED lighting systems have given rise to a whole new look to a city skyline. Here are a few of the more colorful city skylines bathed in LED lighting.
New York, New York
For Further Reading
NY Post, City’s towers in LED arms race to get brightest spot in skyline, http://nypost.com/2014/03/23/citys-towers-in-led-arms-race-to-get-brightest-spot-in-skyline/
City Lab, How LEDs Have Transformed the City Skyline, http://www.citylab.com/design/2013/07/how-leds-have-transformed-city-skyline/6382/
NY Post, High-tech LEDs turning NYC skyline into a lightshow, http://nypost.com/2014/01/15/high-tech-leds-turning-nyc-skyline-into-a-lightshow/