December 13, 2018

Boston Gas Lamps

As you walk around the streets of Back Bay, you can't help but notice the lamps that line up the streets. These lamps have decorated the streets of Back Bay and Beacon Hill for many years.

Boston Gas Lamps

Ten Fun Facts about Boston Gas Lamps

In the early part of the 19th Century, many of the streets in Boston were lit with colonial Oil Lamps

By the 1890s, the City of Boston had converted many of the oil lamps to gas lamps

In 1909, Boston began the process of installing tungsten electric lamps. By 1913, all the lamps along the major streets in Boston were converted to electric lamps. Gas lamps were still used in residential districts.

In the 1940s and 50s, the City of Boston took over the lamp maintenance and converted all the remaining lamps to electric to maintain a city-wide standards.

In the 1960s, the City started the process of reverting the lamps back to gas in various Boston historic neighborhoods.

In 1965, It cost $100 per lamp to convert the electric lamps back to gas. ($100 in 1965 would cost $800 in 2018.)

Today are approximately 67,000 lamps in the city of Boston and 2,800 of them are gas lamps.

Each gas lamp cost the city $2 a day or $180 a year in gas usage when it's on all day.

In 2011, 600 gas lamps were modified so they would go on at dusk. Prior to 2011, the gas lamps were always on. Some locations were manually controlled by residences or the gas company.

Having an auto-on/off igniter switch has saved the city $140,000 a year - or $980,000 since 2011. The city got a grant from the state's Department of Energy Resources to fund the switch over. The igniter switch cost $750 per lamp.

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