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"I want to make them beautiful, but they always turn out wrong! That one, too fat! This one, too tall!
This one... too SYMMETRICAL!"
J.S. Steinman

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For the Lighthouse of Columbia, see The Lighthouse (BioShock Infinite).
Lord help the lost ship that wanders into these waters unaware -- for suddenly, compasses spin awry and radios fill with static. Then the Phantom Lighthouse looms suddenly in the mist.
― Excerpt from Back to the Frozen Triangle, by Carleton Rede[src]

The Lighthouse (simply named BioShock on its loading screen and The Crash Site on its save files) is the introduction level to BioShock and the world of Rapture, and reappears in several other entries of the BioShock series.


The building itself is a navigational tower standing on a small rocky island located at approximately 63° N, 32° W in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The Lighthouse actually conceals the only access to the underwater city of Rapture without a submarine, harboring a single bathysphere linked to the Welcome Center Metro Station, and so represents the only landmark to the city's position. It seems to employ some sort of defensive measures to prevent the advancements of unwanted boats and planes found within close proximity, and thus may be the cause of many disappearances occurring in the nearby waters, which were given the ill-fated name of the Frozen Triangle. The Lighthouse shape with an Art Deco angel statue supporting the tower's light emitter atop is also commonly used as a symbol of the city and is represented on its various arts and decorations.


BioShock Andrew Ryan Lighthouse Bust

"No gods or kings. Only Man."

Main article: BioShock

Following the plane crash of Apollo Air Flight DF-0301 in the Atlantic Ocean, Jack, the only survivor, spotted the light emitted by the Lighthouse through the smoking wreckage of the plane. He swam to the stairs at the foot of the building and proceeded to enter it, the inside being in complete darkness. As he entered the tower, the various electronics (lights and music) seemed to activate, as if responding to his presence. A hanging bust of Andrew Ryan, bearing a banner displaying the phrase "No gods or kings, only man", is visible. Down a flight of stairs is docked a bathysphere at the top of a deep water well which, once activated, transported Jack to the underwater city of Rapture. During the travel, a speech from Andrew Ryan, the creator of the hidden city, is displayed to anyone entering it for the first time and reminds them of the philosophy upon which the city was founded. As the speech ended, the city finally appeared. A Rosie with a welding torch is seen doing work on a tunnel as the bathysphere descends between buildings. Upon approaching the bathysphere's destination, the Service Radio inside it began to transmit a strange conversation between two men. The vessel then began its ascension to the Welcome Center's Bathysphere Station.

There's Something in the SeaEdit

Day176 item931 phantom lighthouse

The Phantom Lighthouse.

Main article: There's Something in the Sea

The Lighthouse was mentioned three times in Something in the Sea: in The Frozen Triangle by Carleton Rede (page 13), in The Spectral Sea by Jeremiah Lynch, and in Back to the Frozen Triangle by Carleton Rede. All three books state that sailors had given it the name "The Phantom Lighthouse" and this myth's origin is expounded upon in Back to the Frozen Triangle. The only known vessel that managed to reach the Phantom Lighthouse and return, sparking the creation of this myth, was the Hackness, an English fishing vessel that became lost in the North Atlantic during the Icelandic/English Cod Wars.[1]

On the terms of his journey, Mark Meltzer set sail aboard S.S. Nellie Bly to follow the clues left by Orrin Oscar Lutwidge and find the entrance to Rapture. Using a compass unlocked from puzzle box left by Lutwidge, he approached the Lighthouse near enough to take a photo, but not enough to accost it due to the impenetrable mist surrounding it and the boat's instruments going wild. Meltzer finally decided to use a dinghy found adrift the day before to look for the Lighthouse by himself. This decision saved his life as he avoided the slaughter which occurred aboard when Splicers attacked the boat. He managed to steal a bathysphere, either from the Lighthouse or from the attackers, and reached the station at the Adonis Luxury Resort in Rapture.

BioShock 2Edit

Main article: BioShock 2

A miniature recreation of the Lighthouse is featured at the end of the Journey to the Surface theme park ride in Ryan Amusements, representing the riders returning to Rapture from the surface. At Siren Alley, a painting by the followers of Father Simon Wales is seen on the wall depicting the plane crash at the Lighthouse which occurred at the beginning of BioShock eight years before. The tower is also clearly seen in the background of the various endings of BioShock 2, once the escape vessel used by Subject Delta, Sofia Lamb and her daughter Eleanor reached the surface.

Infinite Spoilers

BioShock InfiniteEdit

Lighthouse Infinite

The lighthouse, alone in the Atlantic.

Main article: BioShock Infinite

Near the end of BioShock Infinite, Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth escaped Columbia by opening a Tear to Rapture. Elizabeth then proceeded to guide her companion to the surface by using a bathysphere docked at the Welcome Center's station, and then emerged right at the stairs in front of the Lighthouse. She then used its entrance to open a passage to the Sea of Doors, where an infinite number of similar Lighthouse on a calm sea represent the access to an equally infinite number of realities.

Burial at Sea - Episode 2Edit


Jack returns to the lighthouse one last time.

Main article: Burial at Sea - Episode 2

In BioShock Infinite's downloadable content, Burial at Sea - Episode 2, the Lighthouse is featured once again as the entry to the reality of Rapture featured all along during the BioShock series. After her death in this reality, Elizabeth decided to reappear there once again to answer her guilt and save Sally, the young girl whom she used as bait to exercise her own revenge on the last existence of Zachary Hale Comstock in all realities. After making this decision, she was led by the Lutece twins, Rosalind and Robert, on a boat across the Sea of Doors, littered with corpses under its surface and in complete darkness, and to the Lighthouse to "resurrect" in Rapture's reality.

At the game's conclusion, Elizabeth witnesses the future one last time. In her vision, she sees Jack standing at the steps of the lighthouse having returned to the surface with Sally and the other rescued Little Sisters.


Concept Art, Models and Promotional ImagesEdit

In-Game ImagesEdit

Descending into RaptureEdit

Behind the ScenesEdit

  • The animation used for the Rosie in the sequence leading to Rapture is the same as when a Rosie is hit by the player with the Electro Bolt Plasmid.
  • The lighthouse is the only playable area in BioShock that is above sea level.
  • The music that plays in the Lighthouse in BioShock is an instrumental version of "La Mer", performed by Django Reinhardt and originally written by Charles Trenet and composed by Léo Chauliac.[2] The English version of the song, Beyond the Sea, was featured in one of BioShock's first trailers.
  • The lighthouse tower bears a striking resemblance to the Lighthouse of Alexandria,[3] one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
  • During the opening sequence in the plane Jack is seen glancing at his wallet. Upon closer inspection, the player can see an Irrational Games business card in one of the pockets.
  • The person standing between the older man and woman in Jack's family photo at the top of the wallet is the Lead Designer at Irrational Games, Bill Gardner.[4][5][6]
  • If the player swims through the flames after the plane has crashed, the event of the sinking plane tail won't be activated, and the player can see the door of the plane.
  • According to Irrational Games Senior Artist Daniel Keating, the whale seen before arriving in Rapture was originally meant to be in the museum of the Proving Grounds, but when he applied the swim animation to the model, it was eventually used to improve the impact for the Bathysphere sequence.[7]
  • Although the banner and Andrew Ryan bust were the first things the player sees inside the Lighthouse, in a developer commentary video, there was originally a unique bronze statue appearing to hold the existing Rapture emblem.[8]
  • Rapture's emblem is seen above the Lighthouse doors and above the entrance to the docking station that leads to the Welcome Center complex. It depicts a geometric landscape and the phrase "Ad Idem," which is Latin for "to the same thing," or "in agreement." This suits Ryan's philosophy of a city moving in the same direction towards progress and success.
  • Much of the scenery and "skyline" seen in the descent to Rapture was designed by Demiurge Studios.[9] Many of the medallions and emblems seen inside the Lighthouse were designed by Dave Flamburis.
    • The sign below the bathysphere entrance reads "Torrance Hall". It was intended to be "a loose reference to The Shining."[10]
  • As said by Ken Levine in an interview, the lighthouse was intended to have a gunfight, but was cut from the final game.[11]
  • Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth visit this area briefly during the events of BioShock Infinite, arriving via bathysphere from Rapture, in almost the exact inverse of the manner in which Jack goes to the city. They arrive on the steps of the lighthouse, rather than coming in through the descent tube inside.
BioShock-The-Collection 2016 06-29-16 001

The promotional image.

  • In BioShock: The Collection, handrails have been placed by the stairs on the exterior of the Lighthouse.
  • A promotional image for BioShock: The Collection features the remastered Lighthouse lobby with a different design for the Andrew Ryan statue than what is seen in the final version.
  • The statue on top of the Lighthouse has a very strong resemblance to two Art Deco statues by Oskar J. W. Hansen at Hover Dam called Wings of the Republic. Similar statues are found throughout the city of Rapture.


  1. The Cod Wars on Wikipedia
  2. BioShock OST, "La Mer" by Django Reinhardt on YouTube
  3. Lighthouse of Alexandria on Wikipedia
  4. BioShock 2 Intro clip on Youtube, at 0:35
  5. Image of Jack's wallet
  6. Post by Joe Faulstick on the "A small picture showing you Irrational actually never "died" :)" thread in the Irrational Games Forums
  7. Note about creating the whale at
  8. Bioshock - "Dev. Diary 1" on YouTube
  9. Demiurge Studios
  10. Aeternum Ars: Bioshock artist Dave Flamburis' portfolio
  11. BioShock Infinite Ken Levine Interview on Polygon