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Tribute in Light Project History

On March 11, 2002, six months after the attacks on the World Trade Center, two great beams of light rose from Lower Manhattan and filled the night sky. Organized by the Municipal Art Society with support from the public art organization Creative Time, the Tribute in Light was meant to honor all those who were lost on September 11 as well as those who worked so hard to get our city through its greatest trial.

The idea for the lights was independently conceived by several artists and designers, who were brought together under the auspices of the Municipal Art Society and Creative Time. The creative team that developed the idea included architect and MAS member Richard Nash Gould, architects John Bennett and Gustavo Bonevardi, artists Julian LaVerdiere and Paul Myoda, and world-renowned lighting designer Paul Marantz, who translated the initial concept into a reality. MAS Chairman Philip Howard assembled a Citizens Committee – Amanda Burden, Gordon J. Davis, Jennie Farrell, Mary Fetchet, Marian Fontana, Susan Freedman, Anthony Gardner, Gail Gregg, Vartan Gregorian, Agnes Gund, Thomas Healy and Fred Hochberg, Monica Iken, Robert Wood Johnson IV, Peter R. Kann, Bruce Ratner, David Rockefeller, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., Carl Weisbrod and MAS President, Kent Barwick, to organize the effort. MAS Board Member Susan Freedman presented the idea to the incoming Bloomberg administration and the Mayor responded enthusiastically to the proposal and leant his support to the project.

What followed was an incredible collaborative effort that involved dozens of people and almost as many organizations. The space used for the two 50-foot-square banks of light was borrowed from the Battery Park City Authority; General Electric funded the eighty-eight Space Cannon spotlights; and the power to run the 7,000-watt lights was donated by Con Edison. Generous contributions from a group of sponsors including Deutsche Bank and AOL Time Warner covered the remaining costs of the project. Extensive dialogues with neighborhood residents and the New York City Audubon Society determined the hours and duration of the installation and conversations with victims’ families resulted in the project’s name, Tribute in Light.

The Society is deeply grateful to those who work and donations made this gift to New York possible. In particular, we would like to thank:

George E. Pataki, Governor of the State of New York
Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of the City of New York
John C. Whitehead, Chairman, Lower Manhattan Development Corporation
Lou Tomsen, Executive Director, Lower Manhattan Development Corporation
Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority (James F. Gill, Chairman, Charles J. Urstadt, Vice Chairman, David B. Cornstein, Member, Timothy S. Carey, President & CEO)

This project was made possible through the generous support of:

The General Electric Company, Deutsche Bank, AOL Time Warner, Con Edison, Agnes Gund, Alliance for Downtown NY, Covington & Burling, Robert Wood Johnson IV, MetLife Foundation, David Rockefeller, The Rudin Foundation, Inc., Sullivan & Cromwell, Forbes Magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Daily News, Thomas Healy & Fred Hochberg, LEF Foundation, Third Millennium Foundation, Philip Aarons and Shelley Fox Aarons, Aber D. Unger Foundation, Amanda Burden, Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts, Craig and Caryn Efron, Andrew Heiskell, Richard and Donna Joi,Lynford Family Fund, Mark Willard & Associates, Merrill Lynch, Tobias Meyer and Mark Fletcher, Millennium Partners, New York Times Company Foundation, Roy & Niuta Titus Foundation

Additional thanks to the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management, the Mayor’s Community Assistance Unit, Manhattan Community Board 1, the Public Art Fund, Lippincott & Margulies, LTI, Nucleus Imaging, Debevoise & Plimpton, Charles Nesbit, Urban Data Solutions and Dan Klores Communications.