The Bay Lights
March 2013 – Current
“What if the San Francisco Bay Bridge were a canvas for light? That was the seminal question that ultimately sparked a diverse community to action and led to Leo Villareal’s creation of the iconic light sculpture.”
The Bay Lights is 1.8 miles wide and 500 feet high LED light sculpture. Inspired by the Bay Bridge’s 75th Anniversary, artist Leo Villareal creates a never-repeating, dazzling display of 25,000 LED white lights through March 2015 across the western span of the Bay Bridge, renamed Willie L. Brown Jr. Bridge in February 2014.
Even before going live, The Bay Lights was on its way to becoming a global sensation. A month before the grand lighting ceremony, Hemipsheres magazine listed the artwork as the number one thing to see in the world during 2013. Within the first six month, the artwork had garnered half a billion media impressions.
Locally, The Bay Lights were instantly embraced and beloved. The San Francisco waterfront surged with new vitality. Pedestrians strolled. Lovers kissed. Bars and restaurants reported a 30 percent increase in business. 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 boosts the regional economy by more than $100m annually.
The artwork seemed a perfect fit. “It feels like it’s always been here” was how one lifelong San Franciscan put it.