Akureyri: The Icelandic City With Heart-Shaped Stop Lights

With six long months of darkness and crippling storms that close roads and bridges, much of Iceland becomes inaccessible from October to April. To ward off seasonal depression, many residents choose to vacation through the winter months. However, financial instability can often make these much-needed breaks impossible, as was the case during the Icelandic financial crash of 2008. Despite the economic uncertainty and hardships of winter, the northern city of Akureyri was determined not to lose spirit, and adopted a unique strategy for beautifying the city and boosting the morale of its citizens by installing tiny, glowing hearts inside of all the traffic lights. Former mayor of Akureyri, Eiríkur Björn Björgvinsson, said the traffic lights were employed after the financial meltdown "to remind the citizens what really mattered and give people a reason to smile at crosswalks and intersections.” Whatever the motivation, visitors to Akureyri are surprised and enchanted when they see the whimsical traffic controls scattered throughout downtown, lighting up the streets and providing a warm and welcome glow to one of the northernmost cities in the world.