First Gas lighting in New York City


When New Amsterdam was first settled, residents whose windows faced the streets were required by the Common Council to put lighted candles in the windows in 1697. By the 1700's whale oil lamps were lighting the streets funded by a city tax.  The light quality was dim, they were flammable which required a system of watchmen, and relatively expensive.  By 1809 the city had grown enough to require over 1600 lamps.  The first experiment with gaslight in the park took place in the summer of 1812.  Studies were undertaken.  Reports were written.  Experiments were undertaken.  Temporary tin pipes were laid under Chatham Street and Dey Street and a few store windows were lit up. The estimate for lighting the city came to several hundred thousand dollars which required an alternative approach.  

Chartered, Apr, 1823

The City granted the New York Gas Company “the exclusive privilege for thirty years of laying cast iron gas pipes in the streets south of Grand street, and reserved the privilege of using the gas for the street lamps, on the same terms and cost as oil.” 

Constructed, 1825

The Company began to lay pipes along Broadway.  By 1827 there were 120 lamps making it the first street in New York to be lit completely with gas.  It made the gas from oil in a large gasworks.  It was awarded a second deal in expanding the gas line system the next year. This second project added 2,400 posts between the East and Hudson Rivers on the southern part of the Island.  7 years later the Manhattan Gas Light Company made the same improvements to the northern part of the Island.