Paris Street Lighting

Paris Street Lighting

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Credit: SHEILA TERRY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: In 1667, by order of Louis XIV, Paris became the first city in Europe to introduce public street lighting, initially in form of a tallow candle placed in an iron-framed glass box suspended over the street. Under the first Parisian Police Chief, Nicholas de la Reynie, 2700 lanterns were initially installed, rising to 5000 by 1700 and financed by the imposition of a local tax. Public reaction was suspicious and often hostile to this involvement of the increasingly hated street police of the ancien regime. The early lanterns were dim and inefficient and were eventually replaced with réverbere lamps incorporating an internal concave mirror to give directed illumination. This still used a candle despite demands to substitute oil burners.

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Keywords: ancien regime, candles, de la reynie, enlightenment, history of lighting, louis 14, paris, police, reverbere, street lighting, tallow, urban life

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