City Lights: Illuminating the American Night

Front Cover
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001 - Technology & Engineering - 292 pages
0 Reviews
Today's cities shine brightly at night, illuminated by millions of street lamps, neon signs, and incandescent and fluorescent bulbs burning in the windows of office blocks, apartment buildings, and homes. Indeed, the modern city is in large part defined by this brilliance. In contrast, cities before the end of the 19th century were dominated by shadows and darkness, their oil lamps mostly ineffectual against the night. The introduction of modern lighting technologies in the 1870s--at first natural gas and later electricity--transformed urban life in America and around the world.

This promethean story and its impact on the shape and pace of life in the American city is engagingly recounted by John A. Jakle in City Lights. Jakle reveals how artificial lighting became a dynamic instrument that altered every aspect of the urban landscape and was in turn shaped by the growth of America's automobile culture. He examines the technological and entrepreneurial innovations that made urban illumination possible and then explores the various ways in which artificial lighting was used to enhance -- for reasons of commerce, safety, aesthetics, and mobility -- such public spaces as streets, festivals, world's fairs, amusement parks, landmarks, and business districts. From the corner street lamp to the dazzling display of Broadway's "Great White Way," City Lights offers a lively and informative investigation into the geography of the night.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


imtroductiom City Lights in the American Imagination l
one Oil and Gas Lighting
two Electric Lighting

5 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2001)

John A. Jakle is a professor of geography at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Bibliographic information