Artist Bill FitzGibbons uses thousands of LED lights to transform the 1931 underpass on 18th Street in Birmingham, Alabama into a rainbow light tunnel, called LightRails.
Bill FitzGibbons’ light installation LightRails was created by REV Birmingham, using thousands of colorful LED lights to create a rainbow. The project brings the community together in celebration of using lights for art.
The 18th street, where the underpass is located, also features Art Deco architecture and passes through Railroad Park, a popular area in Birmingham.
It also connects Parks District and the city center- two major popular areas.
FitzGibbons’ art installation perfectly connects the two major areas in the city by transforming the previously dull tunnel into a rainbow experience.
The Set Up
The lights are made up of 250 LED units hooked up to a computerized system, allowing the artist to choose from around 16 million different options and program for varying colors and speeds.
The sides of the tunnels are smooth and flat, allowing for the perfect intertwining between architecture and light. It also perfectly augments the lines of the Art Deco arches in the tunnel.
Aside from providing a spectacular view, the rainbow tunnel also helps cyclists and pedestrians feel safe while walking through it. It lightens up the darkness in the walkway, making it less gloomy and scary.
The city had held a celebration with thousands of locals at the bridge to kick start its opening.
FitzGibbons told the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham (CFGB) in an interview: “I think of public art as a place-making tool… It not only transformed the underpass as something that you were hesitant to walk through, but it made the underpass a destination in and of itself… Projects [like this], across many cities demonstrate that the creative economy which produces things such as public art has a direct influence on how citizens feel about those urban areas.”