Five Incredible Skylines in America
Unless you’ve never actually watched a film, most people are familiar with the well-lit skylines of The Big Apple (aka New York City) and the ever glowing Las Vegas. Though many believe that these two cities outshine all other skylines, the United States has many other skylines that are equally as majestic by day or night. If you are a lover of bright lights, tall buildings and creative architecture, read on as we uncover a few of the most underrated city skylines in America.
- Dallas, Texas
One characteristic that makes the Dallas skyline remarkable is the Reunion Tower. Completed in 1978, the globe that sits on top of the tower is illuminated with nearly 260 LED lights which strobe, chase, and shimmer to decorate the night. For those who really want to experience the skyline, and the magic of the tower, you can dine inside the ball for dinner as it rotates, giving you an unforgettable view of the rest of the city lights.
Another lovely aspect of the Dallas skyline is the Bank of America Plaza. The building stands nearly 1000 feet tall and is ranked the third tallest building in Texas. Completed in 1985, the building is highlighted in green lighting. Originally illuminated with low-quality green argon lighting, the city planned to remove the lighting completely from the building due to wear and tear. However, after fundraising efforts around the city and outcry for a non-illuminated sky scraper, it was decided that the lights would remain on the building, but replaced with more durable argon lights.
Later in 2013, the legendary green argon lighting received a complete facelift and was replaced with multi colored LED tube lights. The new LED lighting can create over 250 million colors.
2. Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington has a skyline that can make any city jealous. Home to the Space Needle, an observation tower that was built in 1962, it is the city’s most recognizable building.
Over the years the Space Needle has had lights added to its exterior. In 1999, to celebrate the new Millenium, a massive beam of light debuted known as the Legacy Light, or the Skybeam. The light is powered by nearly 90 million lamps, and the light intensity reaches nearly 90 million candela. Candela, or candlepower, is a measure of light intensity based on the number of candles per square inch required to match the intensity of the light source.
Another thing that makes the Seattle skyline stand out is the iconic Columbia Center. This is the tallest building in Washington state. Recently, the building was part of a $4.5 million renovation, which included an improvement to the top of the building’s lighting structure. Created using LEDs, the colors change nightly. Depending on the day, animation may be synced to an event, such as a big win for a local team, like the Seahawks. Also, at the start of every hour the building turns into a massive digital clock people can see all across the city.
3. Portland, Oregon
While visiting Portland, take a walk or a ride down the Hawthorne Bridge at dusk. From here you are able to overlook the Willamette River, the fourth largest river in the United States.
Coming across the Willamette River is one of the most recognizable portions of the Portland’s skyline, the White Stag sign. Originally installed in 1940, the sign features Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer jumping over Portland, Oregon. The entire sign is illuminated using incandescent light bulbs and neon. It is said to be the most recognizable symbol of the Portland skyline.
Although none of Portland’s buildings are among the loftiest in the United States, the skyline is still home to three buildings over 500 feet tall. The tallest of those is the Wells Fargo Center, which stands 546 feet tall. It should also be noted that this year, like a few other major cities in the U.S., Portland took steps to switch their streetlights from high pressure sodium lamps to LEDs.
4. Chicago, Illinois
Few places are as dedicated to architecture as Chicago. You need only drive through the city for five minutes before your eyes meet some of the most stunning homes and buildings you’ve ever seen. The piercing skyline is home to many buildings, with the two most notable being the Willis Tower, which was once the Sears Tower. The tower is actually the second tallest building in the United States and holds a staggering 145,000 light fixtures. Lights on the building are changed often, but surprisingly not by a computer. The lighting displays are actually changed by hand on the 108th and 109th floor roof tops. Enormous color lenses are switched out on the buildings’ huge lights depending on the day or season by electricians. For example, during Christmas the lenses over the lights might be red and green.
Another recognizable building in the Chicago skyline is the CNA Center. Standing 600 feet tall, the bright red building is known for displaying lighted window messages that range from holiday greetings, remembrances and game victories.
In 2014, it was announced that the mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, would run an international contest for ideas on adding more illumination to the city’s skyline. It was proposed that the city would become North America’s new “City of Lights” to increase tourism. Currently, it has not been determined whether the city has moved forward with pursuing this bright idea.
5. San Francisco, California
Located in California, San Francisco is best known for its beautiful and very hilly landscape. One of the most notable buildings of the San Francisco skyline is the Transamerica Pyramid. On special occasions, the “Crown Jewel” which is at the top of the Transamerica Pyramid is a 6000-watt beacon, which can be viewed all across San Francisco. There is also an aircraft light, which is a 1,000 watt high-voltage neon lamp.
In 2013, artist Leo Villareal created a light installation called “The Bay of Lights,” a creative light installation inspired by the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in celebration of the 75th anniversary of its inception. The $8 million project used 25,000 white LEDs that were programmed to create stunning abstract patterns and shapes on the bridge. Although the light installation was meant to be temporary, it was decided that a permanent design would be installed early next year.
Architecture, history, and illumination are a few things that make a skyline breathtaking. The only thing missing is watching it glow in the night sky with friends. What are your favorite city skylines? Let us know in the comment section below and as always, feel free to drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, Pinterest or Instagram!