9/11 landmarks are lit up on the anniversary of the attack

9/11 landmarks are lit up on the anniversary of the attack: New York City, Pentagon and Pennsylvania field are flooded in blue light to mark America’s darkest day

  • Four planes crashed on September 11, 2001 – two in New York City, one in the Pentagon and one in a field in Pennsylvania en route to the Capitol
  • The three sites were lit up from dusk on Friday with beams of light stretching into the sky and visible from 60 miles
  • Last year saw the light commemorations – a tradition for the last 20 years – cancelled amid fears that crowds would be drawn to the sites during COVID
  • This year the ceremonies and commemorations take on an even more poignant aspect given the 20th anniversary date 

The three sites where planes crashed on September 11 – in New York City, at the Pentagon and in a Pennsylvania field – were lit up from Friday evening, as the nation readied for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that killed almost 3,000 people.

After the tradition was cancelled last year, in a controversial move designed to prevent crowds gathering during the COVID-19 pandemic, the lights were once again blazing in a poignant tribute.

The Tribute in Light was first presented six months after 9/11 and then every year thereafter, from dusk to dawn, on the night of September 11.  

All three sites feature beams of light soaring into the night sky, visible for miles around.

In New York City, the installation is assembled on the roof of the Battery Parking Garage south of the 9/11 Memorial, rather than being at the site itself.

Two beams of light soared into the sky above Manhattan from dusk on Friday

The lights are positioned slightly south of the site where the towers stood, in Battery Park

Commemorative wreaths are left at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York on Friday evening

The tribute is seen from New Jersey on Friday night. The lights are visible for 60 miles

New Yorkers play volleyball in the Williamsburg district of Brooklyn with the lights behind

Along the Brooklyn waterfront, people take photos on Friday night of the poignant tribute

The Twin Towers are seen ablaze on September 11, 2001. They would both collapse soon after

Rescue workers are pictured among the rubble of the Twin Towers on September 24, 2001

The twin beams – representing the Twin Towers that fell – reach up to four miles into the sky and are comprised of 88 lights.

The designers use 7,000-watt xenon lightbulbs, which are positioned into two 48-foot squares, echoing the shape and orientation of the Twin Towers.

Two planes crashed in New York City, ultimately bringing the towers down. 

The installation can also be viewed from a 60-mile radius around lower Manhattan.

At the Pentagon, the Tower of Light is made up of 44 individual lights, representing the third plane that crashed. 

A statue is seen at the U.S. Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, with the beam of light from the Pentagon behind

The beam of light from the Pentagon is visible at the Washington Monument

A beam of light from the Pentagon is visible over the Lincoln Memorial on Friday evening

The light from the Pentagon is seen over the World War II Memorial on Friday, the day before the 20th anniversary

On the eve of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the Friends of Flight 93 host the Luminaria Ceremony at Flight 93 National Memorial Plaza in Shanksville, Pennsylvania

Sailors from USS Somerset line the walkway at the Flight 93 National Monument during the Luminaria Ceremony

Visitors are seen on Friday evening along the Wall of Names at the Flight 93 National Monument, during the Luminaria Ceremony

Smoke is seen pouring from the Pentagon after the plane crashed into the building

And in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the Flight 93 Tower of Light is made up of 40 lights to symbolize the 40 passengers and crew who lost their lives in the fourth plane. 

Their plane was the last to crash and, knowing what had happened at the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, they stormed the cockpit and forced a crash landing in an empty field, before the plane could reach its intended target of the Capitol. 

The light beams can reach 18,000 feet into the air on a clear night.

‘We hope that these lights will remind people not of the darkness of that day, but that light will always conquer the dark,’ said Frank Siller, Chairman and CEO of Tunnel to Towers, which coordinated the Pentagon and Pennsylvania tributes. 

‘I hope that everyone who sees these lights, which are visible for dozens of miles, will pause to remember what happened on 9/11. 

‘For those Americans who are too young to remember, I hope they see this tribute and ask question so they can learn about what happened, and the heroes who lost their lives that day.’ 

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