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The Powerful Reason Famous Landmarks Are Turning Off Their Lights

Find out why so many monuments are going dark.

Courtesy ©WWF

Earth Hour

Every year, millions of people from different businesses, cities, and universities participate in Earth Hour. The lights are turned off for 60 minutes to help the planet combat climate change. The World Wildlife Fund puts on this environmentally friendly event, and it’s very easy to participate. Even though turning off all of the lights and electronics in your home for an hour won’t have quite the same effect as turning off all of the lights on the Golden Gate Bridge, every little bit helps. These are the famous landmarks that are participating. (These iconic American landmarks almost never came to be.)

Empire State BuildingCourtesy ©WWF/Rob Johnson

The Empire State Building

New York City’s iconic skyscraper will be shutting off its lights for Earth Hour. The top 30 stories of the building are constantly illuminated with different colored lights to represent various occasions. In 2012, the tower’s lights were switched to more energy efficient LED light bulbs but turning them completely off for one hour saves a lot of energy.

San Francisco golden gate bridgecourtesy ©WWF/John Storey

Golden Gate Bridge

This nearly two-mile-long bridge in San Francisco, California, uses a lot of lights to keep the drivers crossing it at night safe. There are a total of 128 lampposts that line the roadway. That is a lot of lights and that’s only on the roadway! There are more lights that line the cables, towers, and base of the bridge. The Golden Gate Bridge is constantly being updated though, and efforts have been made to make the lights more energy efficient. (Check out these stunning photos of landmarks covered in snow.)

The Space NeedleCourtesy ©WWF Aus/Doug Irvine

The Space Needle

This unique building in Seattle, Washington, is another that is participating in Earth Hour. This 605-foot landmark uses a lot of energy, and even though the rest of the city will remain lit around it, seeing the Space Needle in complete darkness makes a statement.

Athens, Greece- Acropoliscourtesy ©WWF/Vaios/Chasialis/EUROKINISSI.

The Acropolis

The Acropolis, located in Athens, Greece, is an ancient citadel that contains the remains of several buildings. At night, the grounds are typically lit up to show the beauty of these prehistoric building, but it goes completely dark for Earth Hour. The Acropolis is one of many breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage sites. Don’t miss these other UNESCO World Heritage sites that you need to visit in your lifetime.

Vatican Citycourtesy ©Massimiliano-Crescenzi/WWF Vatican City

The Vatican

For Earth Hour, the Vatican shuts off the lights of its dome and the ones that illuminate the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica and the colonnade of the square. The Vatican has been participating in this movement for many years and hopes it will bring people together to fight for a sustainable future.

Sydney opera houseCourtesy ©WWF Aus/Quentin Jones

Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge

The Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge in Australia are other monuments that turn off their lights for an hour to draw attention to climate change. Australia’s landscapes and wildlife have been greatly affected by climate change, so they find it extremely important to participate in Earth Hour.

ECourtesy ©WWF/Jason Larkin

The Sphinx and the Pyramids

These famous structures in Cairo, Egypt, are illuminated by spotlights every night so people can continue to observe them after the sun has set. They even have a light show with a full history lesson. However, during Earth Hour they go completely dark.

Next, find out which landmarks made our list for most popular cultural attractions in the world.

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is the Assistant Digital Managing Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. When she’s not writing for rd.com or keeping the 650+ pieces of content our team produces every month organized, she likes watching HGTV, going on Target runs, and searching through Instagram to find new corgi accounts to follow.