found the display a heartwarming gesture to those tackling the virus, others found it unsettling.
The official Empire State Building Twitter account tweeted early Monday evening that the event was going to take place.
“We’ll never stop shining for you. 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,” the account posted.
But many were still caught unaware when at 9pm the building started flashing, causing some momentary panic.
Twitter user @thisisnique tweeted in reaction to a video of the tower: “It’s almost like they want to spread panic,” and user @Nayleta added that “just living in NYC right now is anxiety inducing. Empire State Building: hold my beer.”
Others praised the message the lights sent out, but were less impressed with the outcome.
“The intention is great, but the effect is terrifying,” tweeted @tdciago, and @Ann_Isik suggested the lights were “impressive, though I wouldn’t like to be living in an apartment close by, in self-isolation with a flashing red light and siren to put up with!”
User @lksriv praised the project but suggested it just needed a bit more thought, saying that “it looks like a red siren. I see it from my apartment and it sends the wrong message. I love the thought and the intention behind it. But please think of a different color and cadence to bring us all together.”
The display was praised by some with @42rebelheart tweeting: “Chills. Thank you to all emergency workers fighting for us.”
New York is currently struggling with the outbreak, having reported the most cases of Covid-19 of any state in the US.
Figures from the Johns Hopkins University show that New York has seen at least 1,200 deaths related to the virus.