The Bay Lights Shine Bright Again

Photo: NBC Bay Area

Bay Lights Blog Piece

On March 5th, 2015, the much beloved lights on the Bay Bridge went dark - the temporary art installation had run out of funds to continue shining. Overnight, the Embarcadero was a little less beautiful, a little less magical, than it had been just 24 hours before.

The joint project of Caltrans, independent donors, and artist Leo Villareal, the Bay Lights used a centerpiece of the Bay Area—the Bay Bridge—to underscore the natural beauty of our region. Losing it felt like losing something that should have been there all along, something San Francisco had made its own.

But with the temporary light strings deteriorating, and no resources to power the display, most Bay Area residents felt there was little they could do to keep the iconic installation going. 

One of those people could do something—and did. Tad Taube, a Bay Area philanthropist known for his diverse and direct investments in community improvements, took on the call to save the Bay Lights from becoming a fixture of the past.

A philanthropist with projects the Bay Area over, known for using the same acumen that’s seen his business investments and philanthropic projects flourish, Taube forged a coalition of benefactors to fund the permanent installation of the Bay Lights. Taking stock of the problems, carefully assessing the costs, the coalition lead by Taube rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

The results speak for themselves: one million dollars in private contributions in an astounding six months, matched with a contribution of one million dollars from Tad himself.

Less than eleven months after the bridge had gone dark, the Bay Lights made their prodigal return, this time permanently, to the Bay Area skyline.

During its fleeting two-year run, the art installment on the western side of the iconic Bay Bridge made itself at home in the hearts of locals and tourists alike. It fundamentally transformed the way we understand and interact with an iconic view in San Francisco, with our Bay, capturing the imagination of everyone who saw it. 

For a dark moment, San Francisco lost that part of itself. With Tad Taube’s help, the City by the Bay found it once again.