Date: December 14, 2010 08:51AM
The earliest article I could find about electric lighting in Chicago were articles in 1883. One mentions the Cook County Board talking about lighting the courthouse. The second article reports on how the new electric lights looked and were working in Lincoln Park.
In a Dec 30,1884 article it is reported that the controller of the city advertised for proposals to light city hall,streets,parks,tunnels and goes on to mention the the specifics of the equipment proposed to build a Edison plant.
In Jan 1886, another article reports on gigantic electric lamps being installed on the Board of Trade building that was uder costruction, the lights were installed and operated by the Sperry Light,Electric, Motor and Car Brake Company.
In the article it mentions that the gas lights were already lit in the streets, so the streets were still being lit by gas.
I know this will shock all the long time residents of Cook County, but the first article headlined DOLLARS THROWN AWAY in the Chicago Tribune Feb 12,1887 mentions that the "almost bankrupt" county gave out contracts in 1885 to the United States Lighting Company to light all the county buildings. Well in 1887 the bills were pouring in and surprise surprise it calls into question that the county was paying more than market price for the equipment and some equipment that was never used somehow had to keep getting replaced or at least the county was billed for replacements. It is reported that the cost of lighting the county buildings doubled while the quality of the lighting was no better and that even though there was electric lighting,gas lighting was still being used and the gas bills stayed the same.
123 years later, the people running the government change but the use of taxpayer's money and waste doesn't.
On May 7 1887 a article mentions that there were several electric companies operating in different parts of the city. Another shock, but the Gas Trust Company which apparently controlled the gas in the city, bought up the electric companies so they controlled both and had a monopoly of all the lighting. The final shock, is that shortly before taking over the electric companies, they raised the price of gas.
There is a article dated Nov 16,1892 announcing the construction of a Edison power plant to provide the first electric lighting for residents of the North Side. The plant was to be built adjacent to the Newberry Library and cover a area of by Lincoln Park on the North, Ohio on the South and Wells to the Lake.
As late as 1904. the city sold bonds to build a plant at Fullerton and the river to provide power to light the streets on the NW side and install 1500 lamps. When completed, the article mentions that the city would then have 5,580 street lights on 430 miles of streets.
Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 12/14/2010 09:52AM by Kchi.