Lindbergh beacon atop L.A. City Hall shows Santa the way

The Lindbergh beacon lights up above L.A. City Hall.
(Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times)

The Lindbergh beacon, the revolving light atop City Hall that was turned on for the first time by President Calvin Coolidge in 1928, was lighted again Wednesday night in time for Christmas.

“I want to make sure Santa will get to the children of Los Angeles tonight and that everyone knows L.A. is a place that honors all traditions and all faiths,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

The beacon will remain on through Jan. 5 to mark the 12 days of Christmas “and to signify that L.A. is a beacon of tolerance of the world’s peoples, cultures and faiths,” Garcetti wrote on his Facebook page.

After Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic in 1927, receiving a bushel of gifts, the aviator suggested to civic leaders in Los Angeles that they contribute to the advancement of aviation rather than give him more presents.


The city decided to place the 1,000-watt light on the new City Hall to help pilots identify Los Angeles and also mark the 27-story building as a potential hazard to them.

When pilots complained that the light was too bright -- it could be seen in Pomona and Santa Monica --the federal Department of Commerce ruled its color must be changed to red.

The light sat out most of World War II and was turned off in 1947. It sat for a time in the basement of City Hall and then at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

When a refurbishment of City Hall was completed in 2001, the Lindbergh beacon was put back on top, to shine on special occasions, such as the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

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