Moon Towers – When Cities Were Lit Up Like Sports Stadiums


At the end of the 1800s, many towns and cities were lit up by powerful electrical lamps placed on towers up to 300 feet high.

The arc lamp – the first electric light and the predecessor of Edison’s incandescent light bulb – was extremely bright and much more energy efficient than other lighting technologies from those times.

The lamps were too strong for indoor use, but they were regarded as the future of municipal lighting. Especially in the United States, many cities and towns were illuminated as if they were immense sports stadiums.

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The tower system also had the advantage of safety. Witness this report from the New York Times, Arc light kills a smoker (1907):

Joseph Gooden was instantly killed by an electric shock today while he was attempting to light a cigar from an arc lamp in the street. With several companions he was returning from a dance when, in a spirit of bravado, he lowered one of the big electric street lamps and put his cigar against one of the carbons. He received a shock of 2,000 volts.

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Further Reading:

http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2009/01/moonlight-towers-light-pollution-in-the-1800s.html

Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moonlight_tower

 

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