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March 29, 2015

18 Pictures of the Early Los Angeles Street Lights

Los Angeles City is famed not only for its climate and for its oranges, but its electric light comes in as its crowning glory... This glowing eulogy depicts the enthusiasm more than 130 years ago when on December 30, 1882 the first streetlights were turned on in Los Angeles, illuminating the way to a pioneering age of growth and development for the expanding metropolis.

1869 - View of Calle Principal (now Main Street) looking northwest with the Old Plaza Church seen on the left. To the right is the Los Angeles Plaza (square at the time) with two gas lamps, one on each of its corners. These were the first gas lamps installed in the City of Los Angeles.

Early 1870s - San Pedro Street, a muddy dirt street, near 2nd Street in the early 1870s. A gas lamp post can be seen standing in a pool of water.

ca. 1882 - One of the first of seven electric street lights installed in the City of Los Angeles at Main Street and Commercial Street in 1882. It stood 150 feet tall.

ca. 1882 - Another look at one of LA's first electric light poles. View is of the buildings on the east side of North Main Street at Commercial Street at near right, looking toward the Baker Block. A man can be seen standing on a platform half way up the street light mast.

1880s - Main Street looking north from atop the Temple Block. Baker Block is just right of center. This vantage point is now occupied by City Hall. This gives a good view of where one of the first 150-ft. tall street light poles stood.

ca. 1889 - A parade on Main and Temple streets, looking north. The City's new 150-foot tall electric light pole can be seen in the center of the photo.

ca. 1890 – View looking east over the Los Angeles Plaza toward the Los Angeles River and Boyle Heights. Note the tall pole circled near the upper-right of photo. It is another 150-ft tall streetlight located in a new residential area called Boyle Heights.

ca. 1890 – Close-up detail view showing the 150-ft tall streetlight in Boyle Heights.

ca. 1892 - View showing one of the City's 150-ft tall streetlights in the residential area of Orange Street (later Wilshire Boulevard) at Lucas Avenue.

1890s - A sailboat and several row boats are seen on the lake at the City's new park, Westlake Park (now MacArthur Park). The hillside is beginning to be filled with new homes. The very tall pole in the background is one of the City’s new streetlights (150-ft tall).

ca. 1895 - View of Westlake Park (now MacArthur Park) circa 1895. Transportation was still by horse and carriage (lower left of picture) and ladies carried parasols to shade themselves from the sun. The tall pole seen on the other side of the lake is one of the City's first 150-ft tall electric light poles

1883 - The first electric light plant in Los Angeles was built in 1882 by C. L. Howland (Los Angeles Electric Company) on the corner of Alameda and Banning Streets.

1888 - Banning Street Electrical Plant now showing two smokestacks. It appears that the building as been enlarged from its original footprint as seen in the previous 1883 photo.

ca. 1905 - View of Broadway looking north from Sixth Street. The 7-lamp ornate streetlights that ran along the sidewalk curb consisted of a large round bulb surrounded by six smaller ones.

1907 - View looking north on Broadway near 5th Street at dusk or dawn. Beautiful 7-lamp streetlights are illuminating the nearly vacant street.

ca. 1908 – Postcard view looking south on Broadway at night with the Bullock’s Department Store building in the background. An ornate 7-bulb lamp stands tall in the foreground adjacent to a horse-drawn wagon.

1905 - Looking west from 5th and Hill streets. Ornate 5-bulb streetlights appear as far as the eye can see. The trees of Pershing Square are visible on the left, and the State Normal School, on the present site of the L.A. Public Library, Central Branch shows prominently in the background.

1908 - Close-up view of the same corner as previous photo, in 1908. The ornate 5-bulb streetlight can be seen in greater detail.

(via Water and Power Associates)

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