Since the beginning, we, humans, are always capable of creating, building, inventing, and innovating tools that help us simplify how we do things. Aside from the tire that powers transportation, humans also created an architectural structure that is mostly overlooked, Street Lights. Without them, the roads and the streets that we used to travel from one place to another would be so dark.
An anonymous once said, "Whoever invented the wheel must be an outstanding genius". I, to some extent, also believe that whoever invented the Street Light must also be a genius. History books suggest that the earliest to use Street Light are the Greek and Roman civilizations. The Greeks and Romans mostly use oil lamps, it is being lit by a person once night approaches.
Street Lights from Yesteryears and Today
Two of the most well-documented forms of street lights in the history of mankind is the one that uses oil and gas and is being lit manually by a designated person once night approaches. That designated person or employed person to light and maintain the street lights are called "Lamplighter". In the early days of street lights, the most common oil used in those street lights is olive oil, sesame oil, and oil from other seeds. These oil-lit street lights are first being popularly used in 1500s Europe and 1700s America.
Ostrów Tumski, Wroclaw, Poland
But I was surprised that even today gas street lights are still being used complete with a lamplighter that lit and maintains the street lights, a pole is used in lighting the street lights. Ostrów Tumski in Wroclaw, Poland is one of the places where gas street lights are still in use. In Ostrów Tumski, a lamplighter is employed to lit and extinguish the gas street lights and also maintaining them.
To be honest, I do admire these kinds of street lights because of their exquisite designs. If I am going to choose (in terms of design) between modern-day street lights and the old oil/gas street lights I would choose oil/gas street lights. In my opinion, their design is very classic, and as we know it, classic never goes out of style.
Today, if you go and visit Ostrów Tumski you will see the lamplighter at dusk lighting all the gas street lights in the area and then extinguishing them at dawn. He would lit all 103 street lights in the area every day and then extinguishing them at dawn.
If I could I would visit this place for its nostalgic vibe because of the gas street lights and also because it is one of the only two places in the world where gas street lights are being used.
Did I just mention that there are only two places in the world that uses gas street lights? Yes, that's right, only two places. I already mentioned the first one which is Ostrów Tumski in Wroclaw, Poland, and the other one is in Brest, Belarus specifically in Sovetskaya Street.
As opposed to Ostrów Tumski where the lamplighter will lit all the gas street lights in the whole district (103 gas street lights in total) in Brest the lamplighter only lit two dozens of kerosene street lights in Sovetskaya Street.
Earliest Recorded Street Lights
One of the earliest records of street lights uses was in 400 B.C. during the time of the Greek philosopher Diogenes. During that time the slaves are the ones who lit and extinguishes the oil lamps, they are also the ones who keep an eye on the oil lamps in case someone destroys them or extinguishes them during the night.
Modern Day Street Lights
Today, most of the street lights that are being used are automated they would turn on and turn off at dusk and dawn respectively. Most of the street lights are either powered by traditional electricity or solar-powered.
In 1878 the first electric street lights were installed in Paris, France essentially replacing the gas lanterns in the process.
At the dawn of global warming more and more countries are finding ways to harness the sunlight so that we could depend less on traditional electricity to help curb the rise in global temperature. One of the ways that they find to help curb global warming is to depend less on traditional electricity by creating solar panels. And one of those that uses solar panels are street lights.
Today, solar-powered street lights are starting to replace the good old electric street lights.
Some solar-powered street lights