Keeping Away the Darkness: The Electrification of Cities

This week marks the 139th anniversary of an very momentous event in modern civilization.  Dec. 31 is the day Thomas Edison first demonstrated his incandescent lightbulb in Menlo Park, NJ.


The lightbulb was nothing new in 1879.  It had been around longer than the 32-year-old Edison.  Older models were expensive and didn’t burn for long.  Edison and his research team merely perfected the lightbulb, making modern electrification of cities possible.


On that fateful winter night in 1879, Edison’s workshop and the street were illuminated.  Scores of people showed up to watch between 50 and 60 lights, the Camden, NJ, Courier-Post reported.


Edison “should keep increasing this number daily, as rapidly as was practical, and in five weeks he hoped that he would have 800 lights burning,” the paper said Jan. 1, 1880.  “He should increase the number of the lights as fast as he could increase his facilities for generating the electricity.”

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