Empire State Building Provides A Dubious And Dystopian Essential Service In Homage To The COVID-19 Epidemic

Screenshot_2020-03-31 Empire State Building on Twitter [1 2] We’ll never stop shining for you Starting tonight through the [...]

Manhattan, New York

As if New York being the epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic didn’t give enough stress, fear and uncertainty on the citizenry (and surely the world); the concerned folks that manage the Empire State Building actually thought this rapidly growing crisis needed a visual aesthetic aspect to it.

Explains the NY Post

New Yorkers were left spooked Monday night by a glaring Empire State Building light display intended to honor emergency workers fighting coronavirus.

The iconic Midtown skyscraper announced the debut of a display that began at 9 p.m. Monday, and will continue on through the course of the ongoing pandemic.

“Starting tonight through the COVID-19 battle, our signature white lights will be replaced by the heartbeat of America with a white and red siren in the mast for heroic emergency workers on the front line of the fight,” read a tweet from the building’s official Twitter account.

But to some, in addition to solidarity, the siren induced anxiety, as it spun for the first time surrounded by low clouds.

“The @EmpireStateBldg reminding us that the city is in the middle of an emergency,” tweeted Rita King, who also posted a video of the display depicting an eerie scene.

 King said on Twitter that she fully supports the cause, “but recommend[s] that the siren be replaced by the iconic pulsing heartbeat effect to reassure our heroic healthcare workers that their efforts will succeed, and soothe nervous New Yorkers now sheltering in place.”

 This is inappropriate on so many levels. For it immediately conjures up the tower of Mordor in Lord of the Rings. (Incidentally, a startup business tower in San Francisco literally did this)


There are so so many things wrong with what the managers of the Empire State Building did, but for brevity’s and social distancing’s, I’ll whittle down to a few.

One is that it’s already stressful enough for the EMS workers and the NYPD who have to deal with this is face front(the NYPD is the hardest hit so far of all city services), and our doctors and nurses that have to handle the deluge of COVID-19 positive patients with little supplies and hospitals filled to capacity.

The second is that the streets are barren so no one will see this. And it’s more than telling that the local press and corporate news media had to get this footage from a twitter account. This should actually bring up inquiries like how long was this display planned for and did this inherently ghoulish concept spring from the minds of the Empire State Building’s board or from somewhere higher up, like the newly social and corporate news media lionized Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo?

And strike three, since the plan is to have this stupid siren display to continue until the contagion winds down this will get most people nearby or inspire possibly hundreds of others to pack trains and ride to 34th St, leading to a gathering crowd assembled on the street to look up and gawk at it. If the intention (as I think the Empire State Building Trust claims) is to be a visual acknowledgement and homage to our first responders and frontline workers and as a PSA to encourage social distancing, this is an irresponsible and counterproductive way to do it.

But this tone-deaf dystopian display is perfect for those who live in presumably safe spaces from the COVID. Likin in a glass luxury tower or a tenement building repurposed for ossified market rate rents with accessible rooftop amenities to give them an semblance of security as well as nice cellphone pictures for their social media accounts. To validate my theory about the latter, they plan on playing Alicia Keys terrible song “Empire State Of Mind” while it continues it’s apocalyptic flashing (when a more appropriate soundtrack for this creepy shit might be “O Fortuna”).

Most of all, having and continuing this light show for an undetermined amount of time during this epidemic is not providing an essential service. At all. This actually makes a mockery of what’s going on, especially with the rapid amount of cases and resulting deaths going and the revolting fact that the city has to triage public spaces like parks and racetracks to handle the patient overload.

Another thing this bloody light show conveys is that with the city under the reign of the coronavirus, the Empire State Building as well as the city is adding to the culture of fear as well as endorsing a police state with the hopes of the citizenry becoming acclimated and adjusted to it.

Shut this shit off now.



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