City Lights by Professor John A. Jakle
Illuminating the American Night (Landscapes of the Night)

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Synopsis

Today's cities shine brightly at night, illuminated by millions of street lamps, neon signs, and incandescent and fluorescent bulbs burning in the windows of office blocks, apartment buildings, and homes. Indeed, the modern city is in large part defined by this brilliance. In contrast, cities before the end of the 19th century were dominated by shadows and darkness, their oil lamps mostly ineffectual against the night. The introduction of modern lighting technologies in the 1870s--at first natural gas and later electricity--transformed urban life in America and around the world.

This promethean story and its impact on the shape and pace of life in the American city is engagingly recounted by John A. Jakle in City Lights. Jakle reveals how artificial lighting became a dynamic instrument that altered every aspect of the urban landscape and was in turn shaped by the growth of America's automobile culture. He examines the technological and entrepreneurial innovations that made urban illumination possible and then explores the various ways in which artificial lighting was used to enhance -- for reasons of commerce, safety, aesthetics, and mobility -- such public spaces as streets, festivals, world's fairs, amusement parks, landmarks, and business districts. From the corner street lamp to the dazzling display of Broadway's "Great White Way," City Lights offers a lively and informative investigation into the geography of the night.

 

About Professor John A. Jakle

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John A. Jakle is a professor of geography at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
 
Published July 25, 2001 by The Johns Hopkins University Press. 304 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Computers & Technology, Education & Reference, Arts & Photography, Science & Math.