The world is full of natural wonders that attract admirers from near and far but it is the technological wonders of the world that are increasingly taking the new generation by storm. Research and development has increased and priorities have changed in recent years with widespread emphasis on things like the global environment and economy. With such mammoth concepts to deal with it is no wonder we have so much new technology to understand and embrace. In order for us to accept these new technologies and mind sets we are incorporating them into everyday life, physically experiencing how they work and why they are worth taking an interest in. LED lights are one of the most popular technological developments being budget-friendly, energy-efficient and incredibly versatile. From alarm clocks to living room lights LEDs are everywhere and most notably, they are becoming an integral part of the world’s best-loved and most well-known landmarks. Prime examples of this exist in the three most famous and influential cities of the Western world; Paris, New York and London, all leading the way.
Paris is a cultural and historical hub. It was the place to be in many of Europe’s most significant art, fashion and literary movements. Still a top destination for people all over the world, there is something special about the iconic landmarks and unique charm that characterises the “city of light”. In fact, Paris’ status as la ville-lumière is an apt one indeed. A sprawling metropolis of illuminated avenues and glowing architecture, Paris has a crowning jewel of light and that is the magnificent Eiffel Tower. In a bid to reduce its carbon footprint Paris is renovating its Iron Lady as part of a £19.7 million project. It is expected that the energy efficient changes, which include new generators, solar panels and hydraulically powered turbines, will improve energy performance by around 30 per cent. On top of these modifications the Eiffel Tower’s famous lights have undergone a significant change too. The 20,000 light bulbs used in the Tower’s nightly light shows are to be replaced with more energy efficient bulbs, 95% of which are to be LED alternatives. This will have a significant impact on the Tower’s energy consumption especially considering how the monument devoured 7.8 million kWh of electricity in 2012 alone. However, there is more than practicality at play with the Eiffel Tower’s new LED accessories. Due to the high shine/low energy combination provided by LED technology the lights are likely to shine brighter, for years longer than their incandescent counterparts. The Eiffel Tower it seems, is leading the way for the City of Lights.
New York City
The Big Apple is famous for its skyline and for being the city that never sleeps. One reason it may be a party-all-night kind of place is its bright shining lights. Tiny dots of light emanating from millions of office blocks and apartment buildings provide a twinkling backdrop for more impressive light displays like the world famous Times Square or the iconic Empire State Building and its exterior lighting system. Times Square is an enormous glowing beacon of LED screens and lights. Home to New York’s famous New Year’s Eve celebrations as well as to a plethora of advertisements and entertainment it is one of the unique features that gives New York its trendy, contemporary personality. New York City’s other LED landmark is the Empire State Building. Of course this skyscraper is famous in its own right as an architectural and cultural icon but its LED light display is more than capable of stealing the limelight every now and then. In preparation for the landmark’s first ever light show in 2012 the building’s original lights were replaced with LED alternatives (provided by Philips Color Kinetics) which provided a “dynamic lighting system [that] allows customized light capabilities from a palette of over 16 million colors in limitless combinations along with effects previously not possible” (sic. from Press statement). In 2013 the 1930s structure was once again lit up, this time with autumnal LED colours as part of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The versatility and popularity of features like Times Square and the Empire State Building’s LED shows not only demonstrate how such structures and their city readily embrace new technology, green methods and modern ways of thinking; it also proves how eager people are to welcome modernity by embracing urban and technological evolution – bravo New York.
Small but mighty, England is the perfect blend of quaint eccentricity and avant-garde attitudes. For England such juxtaposition is a piece of cake and the cherry on top of that cake is the great city of London with its fabulously unique medley of history, culture, innovation and style. With world famous historical monuments left, right and centre the city is brimming with all sorts of features to discover and admire. One of these features in the London Eye. As the largest observation wheel in Europe, standing at 450ft, the Eye gets more than 10,000 visitors a day. Whilst the views it affords of London on a clear day are hard to compete with, the night-time illumination is an impressive sight to behold. As you approach the Eye you walk through tree lined avenues and riverside paths lit by coloured LED bulbs until you are met with the dazzling landmark itself. The London Eye’s lights make it an unmistakeable feature of the London skyline and allow it to play a part in city celebrations, such as New Year’s Eve and the 2012 Olympics which saw the Eye shine bright in luminescent hues. The Eye was originally lit with fluorescent tubes but now uses LED alternatives. LEDs allow more flexibility with colours and displays, each unit capable of being individually programmed. As well as the Eye, London also boasts Piccadilly Circus in its famous West End. Though Piccadilly is not quite on par with New York’s Times Square the site is incredibly popular with Londoners and visitors alike and it is set to expand gradually. Piccadilly first opened in 1908 when it had just five main screens and it has remained much the same until recently when a sixth main screen was added. With Coca Cola holding an advertising space there since 1955 and big brands like mineral water giant Perrier being its first adverts, Piccadilly Circus is most definitely a key player. Its popularity, global recognition and ever-dynamic LED displays show that Piccadilly Circus understands the importance of changing with the times. Last but not least in London’s LED hall of fame is the famous Tower Bridge. In 2012, after 120 years of waiting the Bridge was refurbished. The project included the installation of cost-efficient, energy-efficient and programmable LED lighting. The 1800 LED bulbs are said to enable the Bridge to create “mood lighting”, changing colours and brightness to suit particular occasions. So London too is a pioneer of LED metropolises, blending the old with the new and incorporating one of the most innovative lighting alternatives with some of Europe’s most ancient and iconic architecture.
So there you have a whistle-stop tour of the world’s three greatest cities and their iconic landmarks, in all their luminous LED glory. Next time you casually cast your eye upon a building or a sign glowing amidst a cityscape, long after the sun has gone down, think about the story behind the humble LED lighting and appreciate the legacy of such revolutionary technology. The modern world may well be getting smaller but it’s getting brighter too.