Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
American Illuminations – Urban Lighting, 1800-1920 - MIT Press Scholarship Online
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

American Illuminations: Urban Lighting, 1800-1920

David E. Nye


Illuminations originated in Renaissance Italy and spread to all the courts of Europe more than a century before oil lamps provided the first street lighting. The transition to gas after 1800 and to electricity after 1875 offered new possibilities for public celebrations. Americans rejected monarchical pomp but adapted spectacular lighting to democratic and commercial culture between 1875 and 1915. In the 1880s some cities were evenly lighted by powerful tower arc lights providing the equivalent of bright moonlight. But these towers were soon replaced by more commercial forms of gas and electri ... More

Keywords: lighting, cities, expositions, gas system, heterotopia, illuminations, landscape, Schivelbusch, electrification, arc lights

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2018 Print ISBN-13: 9780262037419
Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2019 DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262037419.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

David E. Nye, author
University of Minnesota