The Bay Bridge, which connects San Francisco to Oakland and the East Bay, has always played second fiddle to the glamorous Golden Gate Bridge. Even though both spans are celebrating their 75th anniversary this year, the drab gray Bay Bridge never stirred the heart the way its flashy orange sister span has. The Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th birthday was commemorated with fireworks, a fancy new visitors’ center, and souvenir trinkets of all kind. On the other side of town, it was business as usual on the Bay Bridge, with some 270,000 vehicles crossing its span daily.
But wait! San Francisco is planning to give the workhorse Bay Bridge some panache by stringing its suspension cables with 25,000 LED lights. American artist Leo Villareal conceived a “pixel grid” Bay Lights show that will be programmed to display shimmering abstract patterns based loosely on water, traffic and weather patterns. The light show will span 1.5 miles of the Bridge and tower 230 feet high. Plans are to install it in late summer and hold daily dusk to midnight performances for the next two years. The nightly light show will be visible from miles around, but not to drivers actually on the Bridge because it would present too much of a distraction.