Never forget: Lights shine in strength and beauty

The twin shafts of the Tribute in Light reach four miles into the sky and can be seen up to 60 miles away. Photos by Milo Hess

BY BILL EGBERT | As night fell on Sunday, the annual Tribute in Light blazed to life in Lower Manhattan to memorialize the 2,983 people who were killed in the 9/11 attacks 15 years ago.

The twin shafts of light are formed by 88 xenon spotlights laid out in two 48-foot-wide squares on the roof of the eight-story Battery Parking Garage, at 70 Greenwich St., just a few blocks south of the World Trade Center site.

With each spotlight burning at 7,000 watts, the combined 616,000-watt twin beams are the most powerful light ever projected from Earth, and are visible from up to 60 miles away as brilliant blue shafts reach four miles into the sky.

The power for the lights comes from generators fueled, since 2008, with biodiesel made from local restaurants’ used cooking oil, provided by Bronx-based Tri-State Biodiesel.

The 88 spotlights are arranged in two 48-foot-wide squares positioned to resemble the positions of the Twin Towers.

The original display was lit on March 11, 2002, marking six months since the 9/11 attacks, and since 2003, it has returned annually on Sept. 11.

Though originally organized by the Municipal Arts Society, the display is now handled by the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum.

Annual funding for the Tribute in Light, which costs $350,000 to put on, is generally ad hoc, and past years’ displays have repeatedly been predicted to be the last. Earlier this year, however, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation allocated a $700,000 grant to the memorial to fund the tribute through 2017.