Empire State Building Power Trip Gone Wrong

Apparently I was one of the only citizens of New York City who didn’t realize there was explicit symbolism and privilege associated with the Empire State Building’s lighting scheme.  Now, I’m not so dumb as to think when the building lights up red, white and blue that it isn’t a symbol of American patriotism, and, similarly, I happened to pick up the correlation between red and green lighting and the Christmas holiday.  It turns out, however, that there is a whole ESB lighting schedule!  Tonight the tower will be lit for the Young Artists and Writers in a bright yellow, and tomorrow Caribbean Week will be honored with the colors blue, green and yellow.  Yet a proposal to celebrate Mother Teresa didn’t make the cut. (Note: If you’re contemplating  a life of service and spreading world peace, reconsider if honorary ESB lights are an aspiration…)

New York is one of those places where power can be found in odd, unsuspecting people.  Essentially this ESB lighting schedule guy has more power than good ol’ Wass, the legendary bouncer at Marquee. (Though I doubt someone offered ESB light guy a Range Rover in exchange for lighting scheme before.) The ESB office released a statement saying they do not honor requests for “religious figures or requests by religions and religious organizations.” Ok, so we’ll just forget where Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween and Christmas hold their roots then.  Now everyone is in a tizzy because, as the Daily Intel noted, the tower dimmed its lights for the passing of Pope John Paul II back in 2005.

Here’s the thing — the building is privately owned so they can essentially do whatever they please. If all this media attention and city council bills about snubbing Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday spirals out of control, I wouldn’t be surprised if they just turn the lights to their neutral white going forward (a symbol of hope, perhaps?).  This would be a rather dull end game, however, especially given that I just discovered that upcoming schemes of white/red/white will be honoring the Consulate General of Japan and that lavender/lavender/white will be a nod to PRIDE week.  Whatever happens, I know that I wouldn’t want to be the guy to have snubbing Mother Teresa on my conscious.

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2 Responses to “Empire State Building Power Trip Gone Wrong”

  1. Yeah, there is a very intense submission process to it. We did so for one of our clients’ 25 anniversary last summer. Here’s the trick that one one has told the Catholic League who is up in arms about it – there needs to be some sort of NY tie in. For example, my client, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (yes, they were a client and turned 25 last year!), we were able to write the whole submission about the fact that NY was their home. For previous religious lighting ceremonies, like Pope John Paul II, the submission was geared toward the fact that his first visit to America was in New York.

  2. Thanks for the insightful comment, Lauren! I’m glad there is some method to the lighting selection madness. Was the tower all green for the Ninja Turtles??

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