After ten years since it first debuted, the thousands of individual LEDs that illuminated, danced, and shined on the Bay Bridge will dim Sunday night.
Rumors around The Bay Lights shutting off (for at least a few months) had been floating around as of late amid talks about the public artwork’s financial stability. Well, those whispers grew into a resounding roar this week when Illuminate — the SF-based nonprofit that is behind the light artwork, among other various public art projects (e.g. The Golden Mile project along the JFK Promenade) — announced The Bay Lights would go dark Sunday.
The reasons don’t exist on a monolith; they span the gamut between financial strain to the actual time it takes to properly maintain the 25,000 LEDs. However, the years following the installation’s debut haven’t been too kind. High-speed winds, oscillating temperatures, and the recent historic rain have caused many of these LEDs to fail at an unsustainable pace.
“We are going dark because the current system of LEDs is failing at a rate faster than they can be cost-effectively repaired. They are already looking quite bad,” Illuminate founder Ben Davis told The SF Examiner.
Installed to commemorate the bridge’s 75th birthday in March of 2013, the glowing piece of public artwork was among the largest of its kind anywhere in the country back then. Since then, the Bay Lights have become synonymous with the iconic bridge that sees some quarter-million vehicles pass over it each day.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. Or, in this case, dim into the past.
Per Davis, $11 million is needed to properly repair and maintain the lights — funds he and his organization hope to raise in the coming months. By September, Davis had said the light could “return better than ever.”
To that point: The project isn’t outright sunsetting, mind you. Davis told the aforenoted newspaper the Bay Lights project is merely going on a hiatus that will allow the nonprofit to rethink and reorganize.
The new undertaking, which is being called “Bay Lights 360,” is set to be revealed to the public on Labor Day. Thus far, the donation page for the project with a set goal of raising $1 million in contributions; as of publishing, it’s amassed nearly $8,000.
In the interim, we’ll surely miss seeing these lights dance in the reflection of the waters that sit beneath them. Here’s hoping that, unlike many large-scale creative undertakings, this one doesn’t suffer any massive hiccups that might delay its reveal.
Per Illuminate, the artwork will go dark on March 5th at 8 p.m. — and best believe we’ll be there (probably sobbing).