Google Homepage Loses Color In San Francisco

    October 22, 2007

On Saturday night, parts of San Francisco went dark, and it was to some degree Google’s fault.  Google deserves credit, and not blame, for this occurrence, though, since it was part of an energy-saving initiative.

The Lights Out San Francisco organization had asked people “to turn off all non-essential lighting for one hour” and install a compact fluorescent light bulb; at the same time, Google put up a black homepage that was visible only to users in the area.  Garett Rogers has a screenshot, however, and also links to a page showing that the two groups may have had quite an effect.

Granted, a before and after shot of the Transamerica Pyramid looks pretty much the same.  But Coit Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the San Francisco City Hall became considerably darker.  Also, turning off the lights at the Palace of Fine Arts actually seems to have enhanced its appearance.

It seems slightly odd, though, for Google to have supported Lights Out San Francisco.  Granted, the company’s done plenty for the environment – from celebrating International Cleanup Weekend to putting $10 million towards sustainable transport, its efforts never end – but rarely changes.  Also, something city-specific is a little out of character.

Still, Google called this “a timely, important event,” and once we remember that the company just opened an office in San Francisco, the move seems more natural.