A thousand million billion points of light

The Empire State Building remains one of our favorite New York City icons. Even after 28 years living in Manhattan, there are occasions, when we’re out for a stroll on a crisp autumn evening, that we look up at that grand old structure and think, “Wow—we live in New York City!”

We especially love the fact that you can look up and see flash bulbs going off from the observation deck on the 108th floor. It warms our heart to see these small bursts of illumination; we feel a kind of connection to those tourists from every corner of the globe, situated as they are high above the greatest city in the world, capturing memories that will last a lifetime.

How many flashes have gone off from that platform over the past eighty years? Millions? Billions?

Those little flashes also makes us chuckle, of course, since they accomplish precisely nothing. It would take a terribly powerful flash, indeed, to reach out from the top of the Empire State Building and illuminate the vast city below, or even a small patch of it.

You can see the flashes of light we’re referring to in the video below, if you look closely and watch carefully.


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