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One Last Thought: Innovation in Lights

The holiday season is synonymous with light, from the candles of the Hanukkah menorah to the tiny bulbs that illuminate a Christmas tree. In the New York ‘Enlightened’ State of Mind, we translated December’s festive glow into a month-long celebration of light in its many forms:

  • A Holy Light: We explored interfaith and unorthodox religious groups across the State;
  • The Spark of Imagination: We introduced a variety of individuals and businesses that are illuminating young minds through stories and education;
  • “Light Bulb” Moments of Invention: We uncovered the stories of New York-based companies and entrepreneurs whose technologies use — and give us — light (cue Kodak in Rochester and General Electric in Schenectady); and,
  • Spotlights on Holiday Cheer: From Santa’s workshop in North Pole, N.Y. to tree lighting ceremonies across the State to Times Square’s world-famous New Year’s Eve crystal ball, we shined light on the best of the holidays throughout New York.

Before completely turning our attention to the New Year (Happy 2014!) and our upcoming January issue (launching Monday), there is one more display of light to consider — one that is iconic to New York City and has shaped the Manhattan skyline for years: The Empire State Building Tower Lights. The top of NYC’s famed skyscraper shines in a particular color pattern to represent a specific event — or, on many days, nothing more than its iconic form. When it’s not lit in neutral white, the colors range from night to night. This year, there were tiers of white-red-white for the Opening Night of the New York Philharmonic’s 172nd Season (9/25/2013), and striations of orange-white-blue in honor of the New York Road Runners and the 2013 ING NYC Marathon (11/2/2013). It even ran CNN’s live tally of Election Night 2012. According to a statement, “As each state is projected by CNN and electoral votes are allocated to the candidates, a vertical LED-illuminated ‘meter’ located atop the spire of the building will display CNN’s running tally of the race to 270.” Upon Obama’s victory that night, the tower lights were converted from a mix of Republican and Democratic colors to the solid blue of the latter party.

The live tally in November 2012 also kicked off the Empire State Building’s new state-of-the-art LED lighting system. Designed by LED lighting company Philips Color Kinetics, the computerized system has over 16 million colors and several effects (from cross fades and sparkles to ripples and sweeps) in its arsenal. From December 20 - 24 of this year — and to celebrate and countdown to Christmas — the Empire State Realty Trust partnered with Clear Channel Media and Entertainment to illuminate the NYC skyline with the inaugural Christmas Light Show Series. Lighting designer Marc Brickman choreographed “dancing” greens and reds to popular yuletide carols that were broadcast on New York’s 106.7 Lite fm.

“Synchronizing the Empire State Building’s incredible LED lights with [local radio station] Lite fm’s Christmas music is our early holiday gift for all New Yorkers,” said Tom Poleman, President of National Programming Platforms, Clear Channel Media and Entertainment. We can’t wait to see what light displays and choreographed shows are in store for 2014. Until then, take a look at our own spectrum of lights below.

The New York ENLIGHTENED States of Mind:

A Recap

The December Issue: Seeking Enlightenment in Many Forms

NYSOM’s Editor in Chief Christine Murphy introduced us to December’s New York ‘Enlightened’ State of Mind.

Seeing the Light of Many Faiths: Women Transcending Boundaries

We highlighted an all-female interfaith group in Central New York that banded together after 9/11 to put religious prejudices aside and support one another.

Let There Be… Lights!

We compiled a guide to holiday lighting ceremonies around the state.

The Lust and Luster of Oneida

We investigated the unorthodox sexual practices of the Oneida Community, a “Perfectionist” commune from the late 19th Century that challenged traditional Christian beliefs.

Illuminating Manuscripts: SUNY’s Zweig Collection

We turned the pages of the extensive Stefan Zweig collection of literature and letters at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Fredonia. The school’s Reed Library houses the largest American collection of the erstwhile best-selling author’s holdings.

There’s Always Time for One More Story

Our imaginations were sparked by the mission of One More Story, an online, subscription-based library of children’s books that are read aloud to help early readers (from children to non-native speakers) learn to read.

From A Small City, A Great Wizard: Following the Yellow Brick Road to Chittenango

“We’re not in Kansas anymore.” And that’s because the gleaming Yellow Brick Road is located in the real birthplace of the Wizard of Oz.

The City that Lights the World: GE & Schenectady

We re-told the “7,500 Story” that ultimately secured Schenectady as the home of General Electric.

Lights! Camera! George Eastman, Kodak, and Rochester

We gave you a picture (see what we did there?) of George Eastman’s photographic inventions and his founding of Kodak in Rochester.

Electric Lights to Optics Research: Buffalo, “City of Light”

We touted Buffalo’s reputation as “The City of Light” following the Pan-American Exposition at the turn of the 20th century.

America’s First Amusement Park: North Pole, N.Y.

We visited Santa’s home in North Pole, New York, where an ingenious idea led to the development of America’s first amusement park.

When You Wish Upon A… Wall

We submitted our 2014 wishes to the Times Square Alliance’s New Year’s Wishing Wall. Each hand-written hope for 2014 became part of the confetti that fell at midnight in Times Square.

A Buffalonian’s Take on Winter in Western New York

One of NYSOM’s freelance writers, Western New York-based Amanda Marie Rogers, gave us a look at the most festive ways to enjoy the cold months in and around Buffalo. Her guide included a visit to the Hamburg Festival of Lights, two miles of “twists and turns [at] The Fairgrounds, which reveal display after display of holiday-themed lights.”

NYSOM Girls’ Christmas States of Mind

To put everyone in a Christmas State of Mind, each of the NYSOM Girls shared a special holiday tradition, including tree decorations, family recipes and more.

The New Yorkiest Thing You Can Do: Reenact The Lake Placid Olympics

Bobsledding, anyone? With the upcoming Winter Games around the corner, we ventured to Lake Placid to put our own Olympic spirit to the test.

Counting Down to 2014 in All 12 Regions

We helped you find the most festive New Year’s Eve celebrations across the State.

Bloody Hangover? Bloody Mary

Cheers to 2014! January 1st was National Bloody Mary Day, and we celebrated in the best (and most opportune) way: Curing our New Year’s hangovers with a swig of one of New York’s signature cocktails, plus a few other made-in-New York twists.

NYSOM Girls’ 2014 Travel Resolutions

From Phoenicia to the Thousand Islands-Seaway to the Hamptons, we’re eager to crisscross the state to fulfill our New (York) Year’s Eve travel resolutions.

Empire State Building LED Light Show Series

We enjoyed the Empire State Building’s first-ever Christmas Light Show Series, which included a choreographed light show and a medley of our favorite holiday tunes.

We hope your December was filled with light, and we want to hear about it. Share your own enlightened state of mind in the comments below.


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