In the 1700's, street lighting
was first introduced
to the US by inventor Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia.
The colonial era streetlights were lit by candles placed
inside a glass vessel, which kept the candle from
being blown out by wind.
Franklin's design was four sided, with
panes of glass, so that if one pane of glass was broken,
the lamp did not need to be entirely replaced,
and might not even blow out.
lights in Franklin's day were not very efficient
and the glass globes tended to become dark with
soot from the oil burned inside, requiring
almost daily cleaning.
In 1803, the U. S.
introduced gas lighting in Newport,
Edison pioneered electric use, light bulbs
Throughout the 1800's, the
use of gas lighting increased.
Some locations in the U.S. still use gas
were developed for the street lights as well.
The first city to use electric street lights was
The City Council of Wabash agreed to testing the lights
and in 1880, Wabash became the first electrical
lighted city in the world as a flood of light engulfed
the town from 4 Brush Lights mounted atop
One of the original Brush Lights is on display at
the Wabash County Courthouse.
By the beginning of the 1900's, the number of fire
based streetlights was dwindling as developers were
searching for safer and more effective ways to
illuminate their streets.
In the 1930's,
fluorescent lamp first became common.
These lamps are a form of discharge
lamp where a
small current causes a gas in the tube to glow.
The typical glow is strong in ultraviolet but weak
in visible light.
The glass envelope is coated in a mixture of phosphors
that are excited by the ultraviolet light and emit
Fluorescent lamps are much more efficient than
lamps, and for a short time became popular in street
lighting both because of the efficiency and the
In 1948, the first
regular production mercury
vapor streetlight assembly was developed.
It was deemed a major improvement over the incandescent
light bulb, and shone much brighter than incandescent or
In the 1960's, mercury
lamps were coated with a special
material made of phosphors inside the bulb to help
correct the lack of orange/red light from mercury vapor
lamps (increasing the color rendering index.
The UV light excites the
phosphor, producing a
more "white" light.
street lighting commonly uses
"high intensity discharge" lamps.
"Low pressure sodium" lamps became
after World War II for their low power consumption
and long life.
Late in the 1980's, high
pressure sodium lamps were
preferred, taking further the same virtues.
Such lamps provide the greatest amount of photopic
illumination for the least consumption of electricity.
Studies comparing metal halide and high-pressure
sodium lamps have shown that at equal photopic
light levels, a street scene illuminated at night by
a metal halide lighting
system was reliably seen
as brighterband safer than the same scene
illuminated by a high pressure