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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Tower Lights

Tower Lights

GRHC - May 1st, 2011

In 1885, Grand Rapids installed 40 towers topped with arc lights, to the citizens eventual dismay. Cherry Street was one of the most traveled roads and was densely populated with enough trees to render the tower light there useless. 1898 saw many of the tower lights switched out with drop lights.    



Grand Rapids installed forty towers topped by arc lights in 1885. Twelve of the tall towers were scheduled to be moved to new locations in the cit during 1898. Eighty drop lights would replace them. Where neighbors suspected a removal of their tower, forceful complaints were filed. Even the men who most vigorously attacked the lights a few years before now became their strongest advocates.

A relentless fight was planned against the removal of the tower at the corner of Cherry and Union Streets. But the Board insisted upon its removal; wheelmen on their bicycles and pedestrians who passed that corner hoped the Board would win. Cherry St. was one of the most favored thoroughfares in the city for wheelmen and carriages, but it was dangerous at night for pedestrians and those on bicycles because the street was so densely shaded by trees that the tower lights were of little use.

The objection to the new drop lights came entirely from the residents near the sites proposed for them. They complained that the lights attracted bugs, that all the children in the neighborhood gathered where the lights were to play their games, and it was not always pleasant to have one’s front steps too well lighted. One man modestly admitted that he had three growing daughters who strenuously objected to having their front veranda so brightly lit, and the father admitted that he understood as there was a period in his life when he also would have objected.


Full Details

TitleTower Lights
KeywordsGlance at the Past, history, radio, tower lights, Cherry Street, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission, Podcast
Pubdate StringMay 1st, 2011

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