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Posted by Daves Rossell <firstname.lastname@example.org> I'm pretty sure that being good at trivial pursuit does not equate with being concerned about details. I'm no good at the game but I do like to get the facts right. It is important to realize that there was a "first" electric street lighting and that there were in fact numerous different "firsts" of various forms of electric lighting. And these overlapped or competed with other forms of illumination that at one time and place were also "first". We can discuss the "first" gas, acetylene, arc, or incandescent installation. We can specify the first central station versus isolated service. And then there is a lot to be said about the way that the various municipalities or private interests actually uses the form of light; on a tower, hung over the street, in a globe, high on a standard. Each of these can be considered a first. Looked at with this degree of specificity, the original first becomes a marginally important fact in itself, but each of the firsts is important as part of a tradition of claiming primacy, and as part of individual efforts to distinguish themselves in a unique manner. Strictly speaking, the first permanent lighting of a public place was in the Public Square of Cleveland, OH in April 1879 by Charles F. Brush using open arc lamps. The first central station for street lights began operation in San Francisco in September 1879 also using arc lights. Edison's central station installation in lower Manhatten using incandescent lamps dates to September 4, 1882 although Appleton, Wisconsin makes a valid claim that they had similar service a year earlier. Many individual or isolated plants provided light in workplaces or stores at earlier dates. The point is that particular technologies have firsts, but so do individual cities, and various eras. Having a first is not like winning a race but rather like being part of a far more general exultation in innovation and novelty. Thinking this way, we can accept that Kimberley, South Africa was indeed "first" but we only begin to understand under what auspices such a claim can be made. I suspect that it has to do with the Southern hemisphere but I would like to know more. And I doubt I'll ever find out these details on a bubble-gum wrapper. Daves Rossell UCBerkeley Daves@uclink3.berkeley.edu