New Yorkers baffled over ‘unsettling’ Empire State Building siren display

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New Yorkers were left spooked Monday night by a glaring Empire State Building light display intended to honor emergency workers fighting coronavirus.

The iconic Midtown skyscraper announced the debut of a display that began at 9 p.m. Monday, and will continue on through the course of the ongoing pandemic.

“Starting tonight through the COVID-19 battle, our signature white lights will be replaced by the heartbeat of America with a white and red siren in the mast for heroic emergency workers on the front line of the fight,” read a tweet from the building’s official Twitter account.

The Empire State Building is illuminated to honour emergency workers, during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Manhattan, New York City.

The Empire State Building is illuminated to honour emergency workers, during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Manhattan, New York City. (TWITTER/WADE HOWELL/via REUTERS)

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But to some, in addition to solidarity, the siren induced anxiety, as it spun for the first time surrounded by low clouds.

“The @EmpireStateBldg reminding us that the city is in the middle of an emergency,” tweeted Rita King, who also posted a video of the display depicting an eerie scene.

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King said on Twitter that she fully supports the cause, “but recommend[s] that the siren be replaced by the iconic pulsing heartbeat effect to reassure our heroic healthcare workers that their efforts will succeed, and soothe nervous New Yorkers now sheltering in place.”

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Another Twitter user suggested the building maintain its signature white lights amid the crisis.

“Just make it a normal Empire State Building. Nice, soothing white. A symbol of New York. Our buildings do not need to look like they are also panicking.”

Added another user: “We know we’ve really screwed things up when the empire state building gets mad.”

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“I get it, but that seems a bit.. unsettling,” responded somebody else.