History’s Forgotten Moonlight Towers

Moonlight tower in San JoseEvery era has technological innovations that seem significant at the time (and sometimes are) but somehow slip out of the history books to fade from the collective memory. During research for the second novel in my Reeferpunk series, I found one of these innovations too irresistible to pass up. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century moonlight towers illuminated cities across both Europe and the United States.

While these towers populated dozens of cities for almost half a century, illuminating city blocks with powerful arc lamps, they quickly dimmed into history’s forgotten archives. Bizarre to the modern eye, these towers often ranged from 150 to over 200 feet high and were used during an era when standard, smaller-sized street lamps were impractical and readily-available electricity had yet to burgeon. [Read more…]