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Check out Rochester’s streetlights over time and enjoy the scenery!

Main & Fitzhugh c. 1877-1884

Arnold Park, 1874

Main & Fitzhugh, 1911

Main St. near Four Corners, 1911

Near Sibley, 1911

Wellington Ave., 1911

Likely 19th Ward, 1911


Edgewood Park, 1912


Chestnut St., 1920

Brown St., 1943

Main St., 1952


Corn Hill, 2009 (Ira Srole)

3 Responses to Rochester Streelights Over Time

  1. Great post, I enjoyed that, thanks.

  2. June 7, 2012 at 8:06 pm Carlos Mercado responds:

    Those modern “cobra head” lamps get the job done but they steal your soul in the process (second to the last picture).

  3. All of the street light styles shown are horribly wasteful, sending most of their light sideways or upwards where it can’t do its intended purpose (lighting the streets/walks). Given that streetlights are largely subsidized by the power companies, this is understandable. But it’s an untenable drain on the budget.

    Nighttime electricity usage drops dramatically, but you can’t simply shut down a power plant overnight. Power plants must run continually 24/7. So, power companies can either shunt all that nighttime power to the ground or figure out a way to create demand. They do so by offering rate discounts and subsidizing streetlights, typically covering most or all of the installation cost as long as the muni pays for the usage. Not surprisingly, most of the light styles they offer are quite wasteful. Try finding a full cutoff light in the RG&E catalog.

    Then there’s the glare created by those bare bulbs. The lights that are supposed to help you see actually blind you. Roadway studies show dramatic reductions in visibility and ability to see obstacles (like a person crossing the street as you drive down the road).

    Of course, there’s the environmental and health aspects of the glare and overall glow. Studies link nighttime lighting to increased breast cancer risk, changes to foraging and mating patterns among birds and bugs, weeds grow more under artificial light, trees are damaged by continued growth in the fall when they should be going dormant in prep for winter, etc

    Of course, lighting proponents claim decreases in crime. Unfortunately, statistics don’t back up their claims. Crime reduction after new lighting installations tends to be temporary, going back to former levels after a year or so. And mostly it just pushes crime to other locations.

    Municipalities should carefully determine if lighting is actually necessary before installing new lights. Then, if determined to be necessary, they should install shielded lights that direct light downward and not sideways or up.

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