Why Bright Lights Are Important To The City

Why do lights gives a city its buzz? Is a neon renaissance afoot?
September 30, 2005, 10am PDT | Kilgore Trout
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Maisonneuve urban affairs critic Christopher DeWolf turns his eye on city lights, from neon to bright billboards to architectural lighting.

"It’s no coincidence that some of the most iconic and beloved images of the city date from the middle of the twentieth century, when illumination was warmly embraced by the world’s metropoles," he writes. "Every city with dreams of making it big boasted a Great White Way, the best and brightest part of town to which crowds flocked, looking for excitement. Ever since electricity was invented in the late nineteenth century, light has been used to define urban space and create a sense of place. Stern white light projected against the facade of a church or city hall instills a sense of power and gravitas; the blinking neon and all-consuming illumination of a busy main street, by contrast, shouts, “You are here!” with giddy enthusiasm."

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Thanks to Phillip Todd

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Published on Friday, September 30, 2005 in Maisonneuve
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