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The Street Light

felinar smallThe Street Light – monument of electric street lighting

In front of the Huniade Castle (on the side facing Lucian Blaga St.) there was a street light inscribed in four languages which reminded that Timişoara was the first city in Europe with streets electrically illuminated – more specifically, Timişoara was the first city where public street lighting was designed and implemented in a general system for the entire city.

In 1882, the 25 years of contract with the Viennese company that provided gas for lighting the streets of Timişoara ended. The provider however decided to increase gas prices at a level deemed unacceptable by the municipality. The situation was especially complicated since the pipes through which the gas flowed were all owned by the provider (under the contract signed 25 years prior), and the Viennese were determined to dismantle them quickly if the contract could not be extended. Thus, there was the possibility that the city’s streets remain in the dark.

The solution came with the offer made by “Anglo Austrian Brush Electrical Company Limited”, a British-Austrian firm based also in Vienna; the building of a power plant to supply a total of 516 street lights was proposed (soon they would become 731 street lights). The English already had the know-how required for this undertaking. In England the first use of electricity for street lighting had already been done in 1879. But in all these first cases, they were rather actions of some futuristic experiments, and not long-term systems. An American city reported that the main square had become “lighted as the day” ... with four street lights.

Timişoara’s case is thus clear: a revolutionary system seen not as an experiment, but thought that a system with hundreds of street lights that illuminate the city’s entire central area. To this also contributed the opening to the latest technical novelties, typical in nineteenth century Timişoara (still existing today), but also the good financial situation of those years, generates mainly by the accumulation of private capital in the city.


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