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Iconic Empire State Building dazzles with 1,200 new lights

中国日报网 2013-01-23 10:40

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When owner Anthony Malkin found the Empire State Building's dominance of the New York skyline waning, he turned to Hong Kong for inspiration.

The 1,200 newly installed lamps now illuminating the skyscraper's famous spire have brought the most visible change to the Art Deco building since it was raised over Manhattan at the start of the Great Depression.

The spire - the same one that King Kong climbed in the black and white 1933 movie - had been illuminated in some manner since 1956.

In a nightly city tradition, New Yorkers would find the spire either in standard white or - after 1976 - in colors honoring some special event: blue and white when the Yankees won the World Series, red and green for Christmas, green for Saint Patrick's Day, and so on.

But these were drab performances for a building that was being threatened by new kids on the block.

Downtown, the new One World Trade Center will claim the crown as New York's tallest building when completed later this year.

While at Penn Station, plans are being hatched for a new skyscraper that will crowd in on the splendidly isolated position of the Empire State Building.

Also uncomfortably close, the Bank of America tower has become one of a growing gang of Midtown interlopers with their own light displays.

Malkin knew the centerpiece of his family's real estate holdings, which he calls "the world's most famous office building," could not rely on its past glories.

"The wake-up moment for me came in 2004, when I went with my older son's class trip to China," he said.

After returning to New York from Hong Kong and Shanghai, he realized: "We are behind the times - not just the Empire State Building, but the whole skyline of New York."

And so the dream of putting some Hong Kong into King Kong's spire was born.

It took until last year before the technology, using LED lights, had evolved enough to make the dream a reality. But the result has been spectacular.

Where the Empire State Building once loomed discreetly over the twinkling Manhattan nightscape, today's spire is an all-singing, all-dancing pillar of light, which technicians can program to almost any combination imaginable.

Instead of the 500 old clunkers, the new barrage of LED lamps "throw" light up the spire, reaching farther, with greater intensity, and using an amazing 73 percent less electricity, said Jeremy Day, an engineer at Philips Color Kinetics, which installed the system.

"If you can verbally describe to me what you want your lights to do, we can probably find a way to program it," Day said, showing off the new installation on a narrow balcony that runs around the 72nd floor.

"Each one of these lights is individually addressed. We can actually target each one of these and give it an individual color," Day said.

The lights flashed and pulsed in rhythm to a performance by Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys at the unveiling in November. On election night, the spire showed the vote tally in blue and red as President Barack Obama won a second term.

Questions:

1. Who owns the Empire State Building in New York?

2. How many new lamps have been installed in the skyscraper?

3. What style is the building?

Answers:

1. Anthony Malkin.

2. 1,200.

3. Art Deco.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

About the broadcaster:

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in Korean.

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