NEW YORK (AFP) - When owner Anthony Malkin found his Empire State Building’s dominance of the New York skyline under attack, he turned to Hong Kong for an idea that could dazzle any rival into submission: light.

The 1,200 newly installed lamps now illuminating the skyscraper’s famous spire have brought the most visible change to the Art-Deco building since it was raised over Manhattan at the start of the Great Depression. The spire - the same one that King Kong climbed in the black and white 1933 movie - had been lit up in some manner since 1956, with colors introduced in 1976.

In a nightly city tradition, New Yorkers would find the spire either in standard white or honoring some special event: blue and white when the Yankees win the Baseball World Series, red and green for Christmas, green for Saint Patrick’s Day, and so on.

But the huge, inefficient lamps installed in the 1970s - each the size of a small table - left only a dull glow on the spire.