Young Thais are drawn by the big city lifestyle
The lights of midtown's lighthouse
Even if you have never scaled the Empire State Building and witnessed the view, most visitors enjoy the reverse -- marvelling at its illuminated semaphore-ish calendar. Credit goes to real life Mad Man Douglas Leigh who gave us such classics as the Times Square smoking Camel sign. His idea was to make Empire a weather alert and talked Coca-Cola into sponsoring the endeavour by printing a guide to the colour system on their bottles, until post-Pearl Harbor blackouts interfered with the plan. In 1976 he tried again and the building was lit red, white and blue for the nation's bicentennial. After that success a colour scheme was devised for major holidays and now good causes (Japanese disaster relief and Parkinson's awareness, for example) and occasionally more esoteric and commercial honorifics like purple/purple/yellow for the Westminster Kennel Club. The full lighting schedule can be found at www.esbnyc.com.
David G Allan is the editorial director of BBC Travel.