The Wabash Lights Are Now Live

The beta test began February 4th at 7 pm.

Remember the Wabash Lights? The extensive public art project ultimately aims to add 5,000 programmable LED lights to the underside of the “L” tracks, illuminating and adding some much-needed spice to one of the biggest eyesores in the Loop.

The creators (Jack Newell & Seth Unger) have moved one step closer to their goal last Thursday night as they flipped on the lights for the first time. 12 rods of lights have been installed already, and they’ll shine brightly for 18 hours a day over the next six months to a year. The small section of lights is located just south of Monroe Street.

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When fully completed, the lights will be completely interactive, allowing those passing by to control the colors and sequences of the lights from their smartphone. (You can see these in the video below.) They’ll also have the functionality to sparkle, wave, and pulse. One of the project’s main goals is to put the “public” back in public art, and they’re doing just that.

The beta test was spurred on by $60k raised from a Kickstarter campaign, though the duo will need $5 million more to fund the entire project for five years. They’re hoping to raise the majority of the capital from corporate sources and private donors, and they believe the beta test will go a long way in alleviating some funding concerns.

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Newell & Unger have already overcome a big hurdle, as they’ve received approval from the city to revive the stretch of tracks from Madison to Adams.

If you’re free on an upcoming night, stop by the Palmer House entrance as they flip the lights on again. You’ll be able to stop by Wabash Avenue sometime over the next six months to take in the revitalized strip.

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For more information on the Wabash Lights, check out thewabashlights.com.

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