Under the Austin Arcs


My metal pictures of the nighttime world of 1894 mainly involve darkness – with, of course, the occasional gas lamp or candle peering gingerly out of the gloom. In fact, many towns were investing in shockingly bright arc lighting, so bright in fact that it had to be lifted up onto a platform 150ft in the air, where they could illuminate a circle of 3000ft.

Over at the excellent 99% Invisible podcast there is an episode about the introduction of arc lighting to Austin, Texas in 1894:

“In 1885, Austin, Texas was terrorized by a serial killer known as the Servant Girl Annihilator. The murderer was never actually found, but he claimed eight victims, mostly black servant girls, all attacked in the dark of night.
Back then, once night fell, Austin had only moonlight. The city had no outdoor lighting until 1894, when Austin decided to buy more moonlight, in the form of towers. They were fifteen stories tall, each crowned with a circle of six lights, soaring way up above the city.”

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Exit mobile version