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S.F.'s Second Bridge Gets a Rare Turn in the Spotlight

One of the few times the Golden Gate Bridge's older sibling made headlines was for frightening reasons during the Loma Prieta earthquake. This week, the utilitarian Bay Bridge received a dose of elegance, as the world’s largest LED light sculpture.
March 7, 2013, 12pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Emily Marsh provides a first-hand account of the unveiling of artist Leo Villareal's "The Bay Lights" installation, which covers the 1.8-mile western span of the Bay Bridge in "25,000 undulating white lights." According to Marsh, the $8 million project "is being lauded for its contribution to public art, its potential to increase tourism revenue and the competition it now poses to the Bay's more famous bridge."

Beginning at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, "[t]he bridge's new lights slowly began moving in apparent rhythm with the surrounding fog and waves. While the city seemed eerily quiet, social media channels captured the applause. The event created a sense of community around this seldom acknowledged piece of infrastructure. The Bay Bridge became a living work of art that viewers could connect with, discuss and remember."

As Marsh notes, the instillation isn't just a pretty piece of sculpture, but rather "captures a meaningful element of San Francisco history and culture. The installation combines art, technology and innovation — all important drivers in shaping the city we know today."

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Published on Wednesday, March 6, 2013 in POLIS
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