Sacramento’s landmark entryway – the Tower Bridge – could be getting some new sparkle as community leaders work to drape it in energy-efficient LED lights that could be programmed to shine different colors to celebrate holidays or events.
The refurbishment is spearheaded by the “RePower the Tower” campaign. Organizers are trying to raise $900,000 to replace all the Tower Bridge lights, which have been in place since 1989. RePower the Tower, as well as the original Tower Bridge light project, were both started by Sandy Smoley, a former Sacramento County supervisor and former Gov. Pete Wilson’s health-and-welfare secretary.
“In 1989 when I was at a fashion show on the west steps of the Capitol, I looked down at the Tower Bridge and it was just a dark hole that went to nowhere. I thought, wouldn’t this be a good time to put lights on the bridge?” Smoley said. “I had a similar realization last year at a farm-to-fork dinner. Now the bridge looked a little tired. I thought, wouldn’t it be neat to upgrade the lights to LED?”
The first Tower Bridge lighting project was privately funded with $250,000 in 1989. While the new campaign has a higher price tag at $900,000, the LED lights would be better for the environment and could be programmed to shine in different colors. Although the lights would remain white most of the time, the LEDs could glow purple for a Kings game, green for Saint Patrick’s Day, or a rainbow of colors for pride events, she said.
The campaign officially launched Feb. 15 but has been in planning for almost a year, Smoley said. Donations can be made to the project through http://www.repowerthetower.com/, and Smoley said a crowdfunding page is soon to come.
“Fundraising is just one aspect to the whole process,” she said. “Our pre-planning – working with Caltrans and the Coast Guard, figuring out logistics – has gone on for the better part of a year.”
The iconography behind the campaign, designed by Un/common, an advertising agency, is meant to highlight Sacramento’s diversity, said Brantley Payne, Un/common’s creative director.
“We have this the idea of being a capital, of being a river city, and even the Kings gave us an identity. We’ve also been called the most diverse city in the country,” Payne said. “It’s the perfect iconic representation of everyone in this region because it can be a representation of literally everyone in the city.”
Sacramento has multiple iconic locations, including the state Capitol and Golden1 Center, Payne said. But when people take photos of Sacramento, or when celebrities and TV shows film in the city, their go-to spot remains the Tower Bridge, he said.
Smoley said the fundraising campaign is expected to finish in early fall.
“Sacramento’s changing and growing really fast. We’re asking what makes us different, and we’re realizing that it’s the fact that we really are the most colorful city,” Payne said. “How perfect is it that we have an icon that can change to be anything that we want it to be?”
Dozens of bridges around the world have been outfitted with LED lights. Not far from Sacramento, the Bay Bridge to San Francisco pulsates with 25,000 LED lights installed on its cables.