The Shimmer Wall, Raleigh, NC

Raleigh, North Carolina is known as “the City of Oaks.”  The Shimmer Wall, on the west wall of the Raleigh Convention Center, honors the city’s nickname.

One of Raleigh’s most visible works of art since 2009, the Shimmer Wall is a massive 210′ by 44′ and is made up of over 79,000 4″ aluminum square “pixels” that move with the wind and cause a shimmering effect.  It’s quite mesmerizing to watch.

Shimmer Wall

At night, LED fixtures aid in the shimmering effect.  The colors of the lights change with the season.  It’s quite beautiful, whether you view it during the daytime, as  pictured above, or at night, when the colored lights turn it into something entirely different.

Walter Raleigh Statue, Raleigh, NC

Located just outside the Raleigh Convention Center, this statue of Walter Raleigh commemorates the namesake of North Carolina’s capital city and the founder of the Roanoke Colony, an expedition to the New World that would go into history as “the Lost Colony.”

Sir Walter Raleigh

Raleigh, born in 1552, was an Englishman and a favorite of Queen Elizabeth I.  He was also a bit of a skalawag.  He was awarded a charter to establish a colony in the newly discovered Americas, but never actually visited North America himself.  Instead, he founded the Roanoke Colony, which was established in what is now North Carolina, in 1585.  He never followed through with financial or logistical support and, by the time a second colony landed on Roanoke Island two years later, the colony had disappeared, with no sign of the original settlers to be found.

As I said, Raleigh was a bit of a skalawag.  He took part in a plot to overthrow Elizabeth’s successor, James I, and spent thirteen years emprisoned in the Tower of London.  In 1617, he was pardoned by the King and was granted permission to lead an expedition to South America in search of El Dorado, the mythical City of Gold.  During the expedition, Raleigh’s men attacked a Spanish outpost on the Orinoco River, a direct violation of a treaty between Spain and England.  To appease Spain, Raleigh was sentenced to death and was beheaded in 1618 at Westminster Palace.

He wasn’t exactly a shining example of what a great man could be, but we’re stuck with him, I guess.  He does cut a dashing figure, though.