The Tribute in Light is an art installation created in remembrance of the September 11 attacks. It consists of 88 vertical searchlights arranged in two columns of light to represent the Twin Towers. It stands six blocks south of the World Trade Center on top of the Battery Parking Garage in New York City. Tribute in Light began as a temporary commemoration of the attacks in early 2002, but it became an annual event, currently produced on September 11 by the Municipal Art Society of New York. The Tribute in Light was conceived by artists John Bennett, Gustavo Bonevardi, Richard Nash Gould, Julian LaVerdiere, and Paul Myoda, and lighting consultant Paul Marantz.
On clear nights, the lights can be seen from over 60 miles (97 km) away, visible in all of New York City and most of suburban Northern New Jersey and Long Island. The lights can also be seen in Fairfield County, Connecticut, as well as Westchester, Orange, and Rockland counties in New York.
The two beams cost approximately $1,626 (assuming $0.11 per kWh) to run for 24 hours. The 88 xenon spotlights (44 for each tower) each consume 7,000 watts.As of 2011[update], the annual cost for the entire project was about half a million dollars.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing, it was originally announced that the installation would not light up on the 19th anniversary of the attacks in September 2020, for the first time since its creation. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo later announced that the state would provide health care personnel and supervision to allow the tribute to be held as scheduled.
After the September 11 attacks, several people independently conceived the idea of using lights for remembrance. His and other efforts were merged under the umbrella of the Municipal Art Society and Creative Time.
Tribute in Light initially ran as a temporary installation from March 11 to April 14, 2002, and it ran again on September 11, 2003, to mark the second anniversary of the attack. Since then, it has been repeated every year on September 11. It was announced that 2008 would be its final year, but the tribute was continued in 2009.
On December 17, 2009, it was confirmed that the tribute would continue through the tenth anniversary of the attacks in 2011. In 2012, plans were underway for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum to assume the lease for the MTA property used during this tribute, and to begin transitioning operation of the tribute from the Municipal Art Society to the memorial foundation.
The lights are produced by an Italian company named Space Cannon, which sends a team every year to help with the installation. A Las Vegas-based company, Light America, was also part of the team who implemented the project.
Each year, about 30 technicians, electricians, and stagehands work for about ten days to install the lights. During a testing phase of several days, observers in Brooklyn, Staten Island, New Jersey, and uptown Manhattan help make sure that the beams are adjusted accurately.
The project was originally going to be named Towers of Light, but the victims’ families felt that the name emphasized the buildings destroyed instead of the people killed.
A permanent fixture of the Tribute in Light was at one point intended to be installed on the roof of One World Trade Center, but it was not included in the finished design.
Since 2008, the generators that power Tribute in Light have been fueled with biodiesel made from used cooking oil collected from local restaurants.