The San Carlos Street Lantern Relay – San Jose, California - Atlas Obscura

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The San Carlos Street Lantern Relay

Eight huge lanterns lining a city street can change color on command.  


One of the main thoroughfares of San Jose’s downtown is the site of a whimsical, interactive light feature, the Lantern Relay. Along several blocks of San Carlos Street, several tall light poles sport six-foot lanterns, programmed to turn on at nightfall. The multi-colored lanterns are pretty enough on their own, but large buttons installed on the poles themselves invite passersby to interact with them.

As it happens, all the lanterns are connected. Pressing the button on one pole will make every one of the eight lanterns down the street react, with a burst of light racing up and down each fixture (think the laser you shoot at enemy ships in Space Invaders.)  

The artists, Steve Durie & Bruce Gardner, note on their website that the San Carlos Lantern Relay’s purpose is entirely playful, giving pedestrians the ability to have fun “sending and receiving messages of light, up and down the urban corridor.”

Know Before You Go

The lantern relay begins at the corner of San Carlos and 4th Street, and extends along San Carlos until Market Street.

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March 3, 2021

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