Skyscrapers at Midnight

skyscrapers at midnightThere’s nothing that defines the skyline of an industrial society more than a cluster of skyscrapers.

Their arrogance is constantly on display as they glisten under the hot sun and give off an illuminating glow after dusk.

I love skyscrapers and have felt that way since I was just a wee lad running around with a sippy cup in one hand and a Tonka truck in the other. There are many reasons why I admire skyscrapers and, unless you’re with Greenpeace, or an ecosexual, you probably admire them too.

They give us amazing views with their ridiculous height and serve as city landmarks–each unique in its own way–so what’s not to love? If there are any environmentalists/Debbie Downers in the peanut gallery, we’re going to save talking about big city pollution for later, just FYI.

What I love most about skyscrapers is their magnificent appearance at night. When I’m driving down the highway, or flying at night and the glowing city skyline becomes visible in the distance; a child-like amazement captivates me–kind of like a bug to a porch light. When that happens, you can guarantee that I have my face smashed up against the window as if I had never seen the city before.

Unfortunately, for the past few years, I’ve been noticing a growing trend in the city night sky, where less and less skyscrapers have their lights on, or at least a significant amount. It’s not like every single skyscraper light is off past 10, but from what I’ve noticed, the skyscrapers just don’t have the same glow as they once did (back in the old days).

a skyscraper view houstonIf you’re wondering why I decided to randomly write about such an odd topic, the last few nights I’ve been staying with my younger sister at an apartment that she’s been ‘sitting’ for friends who are on holiday in Aspen.

Their apartment (left picture) is on the 9th floor of a high-rise and has amazing views of all the downtown skyscrapers …especially at night.

Which means I’ve had ample time the last few days to sit out on the balcony and stare as much as I’d like at the skyscrapers…without the hindrance of a window!

It’s basically my dream apartment…except for the fact that it’s in Houston. If I had the money to pay six grand a month on rent, Houston’s probably the last place I’d buy a loft.

Anyways, after spending all weekend perched on a balcony like a buzzard, I decided that I wasn’t imagining things and that cities (not just Houston) are turning off more lights than they have in the past.

Before doing this article, I researched my hypothesis and found several culprits that I’m going to blame in the next few sentences. Firstly, and not surprisingly, environmental concerns are the biggest factor behind why skyscrapers are darker.

skyscrapers lights offIt seems that it wastes a lot of energy to have all those lights on and the more energy used the more our ozone layer gets depleted.

I say screw it and keep all the lights on! I want to see all the pretty lights, plus it’s the 21st century; who needs a freaking ozone layer anyway? Did you know that I was just kidding? I hope so.

The second culprit behind the darkening of the skyscrapers, are those little winged creatures known as birds. Apparently, the little birdies fly into the skyscrapers when their lights are on, which results in many fatalities (especially during migration).

Since I’m not into ornithology, I don’t really understand this and I didn’t feel like reading the entire BBC article to learn about how stupid birds are, but, from what I understand, the birds don’t collide with the skyscrapers as much if the lights are off.

So they can fly, whistle and lay eggs, but they crash into illuminated buildings at night?  The birds (good movie) have a growing force on their side; there’s actually a program, on the birds side, called ‘Fatal Light Awareness Programme’ (or FLAP for short) that is attempting to make changes for the darker. If they get their way, major cities in North America will feel even more pressure to dim their skyscraper lights.

The next time you see the skyline of a major city at night, notice and appreciate the skyscraper lights…before the birds have them all turned off.  

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  1. Birds are the new social activists! Who knew!

  2. I remember as a wee tot going to Dallas (Big D) with my family and seeing the red Chevron horse flying above a skyscraper. Mesmerizing…
    Aging Gal recently posted..A Gnome With No HomeMy Profile

    • My first memory of a skyscraper is in Dallas! I don’t remember the red horse, but I do remember the massive Budweiser billboard with a fountain or something haha.

  3. I have never thought of skyscrapers as arrogant, but I think it’s a nice term for them. I, too, love when they are lit up, but it’s a little like Christmas lights …pretty, but juice suckers! Okay, enough of my Bah Humbug attitude. Love that you picked a topic that I’ve never seen a blog cover. You are a unique soul, Nate…and I LOVE your blog.
    Annie recently posted..Silence of the SpamMy Profile

    • I’m glad you liked that I used it haha. I couldn’t decide if it fit, or not…it definitely wasn’t a typical use of the word, but I went with it anyway. It’s also great to hear that the post was liked ha…when I published it I kind of just shrugged and thought “oh well” because I wasn’t sure if it made sense. :D

  4. Here’s what I like about you: You have such a FRESH perspective. Who but you would think to write about skyscrapers and make it so darn interesting–and funny! Love it.
    monicastangledweb recently posted..Prisoner of LoveMy Profile

  5. It’s so funny to read some of the other comments to this piece my dear friend because I thought the same thing, who but Nate could right about this and make it interesting and funny!! I enjoy reading about how you see the world. Growing up living so close to NYC I have very clear memories of being transfixed at the sparkling skyline and made a decision early on to live in Manhattan when I grew up. When I lived in my last apartment the view of the skyline never failed to excite me. But, since I also like birds and would like my kids to be able to breathe when they get older I have to say I can live with a little less light, but I don’t mean to be a kill joy!!! Lol! Thanks for another great piece!!
    Kathy Radigan recently posted..After the VowsMy Profile

  6. Have you ever seen the Philadelphia skyline Nate? I’m biased but I always thought it was rather beautiful!


  1. […] case you missed it, I recently mentioned house sitting (the same apartment) in the post titled, Skyscrapers at Midnight. But you already read it because you’re just good like that, am I […]

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