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The History of Streetlights

The earliest streetlights date back to ancient Rome, where wealthy citizens used vegetable oil lamps to light the fronts of their homes. However, the first organized streetlighting didn’t take shape until 1417, when the Mayor of London ordered all homes to hang lanterns outside at night during the winter months. In 1802, Scottish inventor William Murdoch created a coal-fueled gas light, which London adopted as streetlighting five years later. In 1816, Baltimore became the first American city with gas streetlights, and Paris followed suit in 1820. Then in 1878, Paris became the first city to use electric streetlights. Low-pressure sodium lamps were installed in Europe in the 1930s. In 1965, high-pressure sodium (HID) lamps were introduced and are still the most widely used type of streetlight in the world. However, American Nick Holonyak, Jr. had developed the first practical LED back in 1962, and today’s modern LEDs are quickly being adopted for use in streetlights.

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