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Lighting the Heart of Darkness

Lighting the Heart of Darkness

Chapter:
(p.14) Chapter 2 Lighting the Heart of Darkness
Source:
In the Watches of the Night
Author(s):
Peter C. Baldwin
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226036038.003.0002

This chapter examines the role of gas streetlamps in community security in American cities during the 1800s. It describes a gas lamp that served as an outpost of order in the notorious Five Points neighborhood in Manhattan in 1850. It suggests that during this period gas lamps can be considered the best policemen because they allowed the nocturnal city to be seen, understood, and safely navigated. This chapter also mentions that property and public safety were thought to be secure in the presence of gas lamps and at grave risk in their absence.

Keywords:   gas streetlamps, community security, five points, manhattan, property safety, public safety

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