Monday, February 8, 2010

Empire State Building Freedom Lights

This is an oversize (6" X 9") postcard of the Empire State Building in New York City and its Freedom Lights. The Empire State Building was the world's tallest building from 1931 to 1973.

The Freedom Lights were four large revolving beacons installed in 1956 at the 90th floor level at the base of the building's television antenna. The lights were five feet in diameter and weighed one ton each. The Freedom Lights symbolized "not only a welcome to this country but also the unlimited opportunities in America and the hopes and prayers of the American people for peace. "

Below the picture on the postcard is the text of a prose poem by MacKinlay Kantor (a famous novelist) written for the May 3, 1956 dedication of the Freedom Lights. These words were placed on plaques in the building.

Whence rise you, Lights?
From this tower built upon Manhattan’s rock. Its roots are deep below forgotten musket balls, the mouldered wooden shoe, the flint, the bone.

What mark you, Lights?
Our Nation’s doorway.

Who sleep or toil beneath your good warm gaze?
All who love this land: they who are of the Land’s stout seed, and they who love the Land because they chose to come.

Sing you a song, Proud Lights?
We sing silently. We chant a Mass and spiritual, Doxology and Kol Nidre, battle hymn and ballad.
We tell of village and of jet, of wheat and cotton, turbine, oil and goldenrod, the wildest mountains and the cities’ roar.

This is a strange new time. Strong Lights, why never do you fear?
There is something more powerful. The heart and soul of all Mankind.

What build you with your beams?
A bridge to the stars.

What offer you to God, Lights?
America’s devotion.

The Freedom Lights have been replaced by newer tower lighting systems. The Empire State Building official internet site has a Tower Light History page with a timeline of how the tower lights have evolved and a Lighting Schedule that lists the occasions and colors of special lighting schemes.

This post was written for
A Canadian Family
A Festival of Postcards Blog Carnival

7th Edition, February 2010: Light


  1. I know you like old postcards and just wanted to let you know I posted some today and if you want to copy them you're welcome to.

  2. Just found you through PFF, and I have to say this is a great, great find. I've heard of the dirigible landing site that once existed atop the Empire, but not the Freedom Lights. And I lived most of my life in and around NYC. Fantastic--thanks!

  3. Thanks again for your participation in the Festival, Lynne.
    Your entry can be found here:
    A Festival of Postcards (7th E.d) Light.
    Evelyn in Montreal


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...