A Brief History of The Bay Lights

The Bay Lights project lit a fire across the art world when it was first unveiled as a temporary exhibition on March 5, 2013.

Spanning 1.8 miles and including 25,000 programmable LEDs, the installation covered the side of the Bay Bridge with a never-repeating, dazzling display created by artist Leo Villareal. Even before going live, The Bay Lights was on its way to becoming a global sensation. A month before the grand lighting ceremony, Hemispheres Magazine listed the artwork as the number one thing to see in the world during 2013. 

The San Francisco waterfront surged with new vitality. Pedestrians strolled. Lovers kissed. Bars and restaurants reported a 30 percent increase in business. Within the first six months, the artwork had garnered half a billion media impressions. A group of more than 20 independent analysts from leading firms such as McKinsey, Deloitte, Google, Facebook and city agencies unanimously agreed that The Bay Lights were boosting the regional economy by more than $100m annually.

The project was re-installed as a longstanding feature of the Bay Bridge with permanent fixtures that were re-lit on January 30, 2016. Illuminate formally gifted the Bay Lights to the state of California.