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Tribute in Light, Illuminated

Tribute in Light will shine again this year, thanks to the efforts of dozens of people and the contributions of Mike Bloomberg, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which helped offset the increased safety and health costs of installing the piece during the pandemic.

“We recognize the profound meaning it has for so many New Yorkers,” said 9/11 Memorial & Museum President and CEO, Alice M. Greenwald, explaining the decision to go ahead with the lighting after the announcement that it would be cancelled this year.

Tribute in Light was the first official, albeit temporary, memorial at Ground Zero. For many, it was and remains, the most powerful 9/11 memorial. However, it was conceived soon after the attacks and its power was not, could not be recognized. Illuminated for the first time on March 11, 2002 in a parking lot in Battery Park City, the installation’s powerful twin beams are formed by eighty-eight searchlights in two squares, sized and placed to reflect the configuration of the original towers.

The piece was conceived simultaneously by John Bennett, Gustavo Bonevardi, Richard Nash Gould, Julian Laverdiere, and Paul Myoda and realized by Fisher Marantz Stone. Originally produced by the Municipal Art Society and Creative Time, in collaboration with the Battery Park City Authority, the piece was installed in a parking lot in Battery Park City from 2002 until 2004; the work was moved south to the roof of a parking garage, also in Battery Park City, in 2005.

Fisher Marantz Stone realized Tribute in Light and also designed the 9/11 Memorial & Museum lighting. Their first task was to source lights that were powerful enough to be visible. They found 7,000-watt xenon searchlights in Las Vegas and did a test run of the installation there. Since even a slight misalignment would distort the beams, FMS stationed people in the five boroughs and New Jersey to report back on the alignment; eventually, they realized they could align the lights to the surrounding towers.

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