NMSAT :: Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline

1885 __ Street Lighting in Paris
Comment : Before incandescent lamps, gas lighting was employed in cities. The earliest lamps required that a lamplighter tour the town at dusk, lighting each of the lamps, but later designs employed ignition devices that would automatically strike the flame when the gas supply was activated. The earliest of such street lamps were built in the Arab Empire, especially in Córdoba, Spain. The first electric street lighting employed arc lamps, initially the 'Electric candle', 'Jablotchkoff candle' or 'Yablochkov candle' developed by the Russian Pavel Yablochkov in 1875. This was a carbon arc lamp employing alternating current, which ensured that both electrodes were consumed at equal rates. Yablochkov candles were first used to light the Grands Magasins du Louvre, Paris where 80 were deployed. Soon after, experimental arrays of arc lamps were used to light Holborn Viaduct and the Thames Embankment in London - the first electric street lighting in Britain. More than 4,000 were in use by 1881, though by then an improved differential arc lamp had been developed by Friederich von HefnerAlteneck of Siemens & Halske. The United States was swift in adopting arc lighting, and by 1890 over 130,000 were in operation in the US, commonly installed in exceptionally tall moonlight towers. The first street in the UK to be lit by electric light was Mosley Street, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The street was lit by Joseph Swan's incandescent lamp in February, 1879. The first in the United States, and second overall, was the Public Square road system in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 29, 1879. Wabash, Indiana holds the title of being the third electrically-lit city in the world, which took place on February 2, 1880. Four 3,000 candlepower Brush arc lamps suspended over the courthouse rendered the town square "as light as midday." Kimberley, South Africa, was the first city in Africa to have electric street lights - first lit on 1 September 1882. In Latin America, San Jose, Costa Rica was the first city, the system was launched on August 9, 1884, with 25 lamps powered by an hydroelectric plant. Timişoara, in present-day Romania, was the first city in mainland Europe to have electric public lighting on the 12 of November 1884. 731 lamps were used. In 1888 Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia became the first location in the Southern Hemisphere to have electric street lighting, giving the city the title of "First City of Light". Arc lights had two major disadvantages. First, they emit an intense and harsh light which, although useful at industrial sites like dockyards, was discomforting in ordinary city streets. Second, they are maintenance-intensive, as carbon electrodes burn away swiftly. With the development of cheap, reliable and bright incandescent light bulbs at the end of the 19th century, they passed out of use for street lighting, but remained in industrial use longer. (Compiled from various sources)
French comment : Si la possibilité de l'éclairage des rues à l'électricité était pressentie depuis la production du premier arc électrique par Davy (1778-1829), sa généralisation ne se fit vraiment qu'à la fin du siècle avec la mise au point des ampoules à incandescence de type Edison qui supplantèrent les candélabres à arc, puissants mais d'un fonctionnement délicat. On peut noter qu'en 1861, à titre expérimental, une lampe électrique à arc, alimentée par un moteur de trois chevaux, avait été installée au-dessus de la porte du Palais-Royal à Paris, où sa lumière, paraît-il, supplantait tous les becs de gaz de la place. Toujours à titre expérimental, on utilise des projecteurs à arc pour éclairer de nuit les travaux de construction de l'Hôtel du Louvre, puis ceux de l'Exposition de 1867. Les premières utilisations régulières de l'éclairage électrique se font à partir de 1885. (Piero Gondolo Della Riva)
Source : Verne, Jules (1863), “Paris au XX° Siècle”, Hachette, Le Cherche Midi éditeur, Le Livre de Poche, 1994, pp. 181-182.

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