The History of Urban Street Lighting


This post is a brief review of the development of street lighting from medieval times to the present, introducing the technologies and characteristics of each and every period. In order to better understand the state of street lighting in our streets today. I had to figure out where it all began and how we evolved to the current situation. To understand the field I had to learn of its roots and so comprehend the problems that developed over the years. I also wanted to know what experiences that street lighting provided over the years and what remains of them today and what was the relationship between street lighting and humans in space during various periods? It should be noted that although the review is carried out according to the period discussed there was always an overlap between the different technologies over time.

Ancient & Medieval Times The initial purpose of street lighting was a function of security. It was used by the Greek and Roman civilizations, utilizing oil lamps, mostly because they provided long lasting and moderate flames. The Romans had a “laternarius”, which was the term for a slave responsible for lighting up the oil lamps in front of their villas. This task was kept up to the Middle-Ages when the “link boys” escorted people from one place to another. Each evening, the medieval community prepared itself for dark. At sunset, people began going indoors, locking all entrances. First the city gates, which had been opened at sunrise, were closed, later the same thing happened in individual houses.