The Great Light Forward

The Empire State Building will be awash in red and yellow lights tomorrow night in honor of the 60th anniversary of the Peoples' Republic of China, a shining beacon of hope to totalitarian corporatist regimes everywhere.

The lights atop the Empire State Building are open to anyone (except Iranian dissidents), so the day after the Manhattan skyline pays homage to the founding of a brutal dictatorship, the lights will go blue and white in honor of the 125th anniversary of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

It didn't always used to be that way. There was a time, according to a history of the Empire State Building's tower lights on the building's web site, when they only represented one lousy thing:

1956: Revolving beacons, the "Freedom Lights", were installed. The "Freedom Lights", four beacons each five feet in diameter and weighing one ton, were installed 1,095 feet above the streets to symbolize not only a welcome to this country but also the unlimited opportunities in America and the hopes and prayers of the American people for peace.

Glad that changed! If you have any other closed societies you'd like to nominate for a shout-out, go here and fill out the form. We just missed the 20th anniversary of the Union of Myanmar, but the 33rd anniversary of the Soviet Union's crushing of Hungarian independence is right around the corner!

[Photo via Flickr by Christopher Chan.]