How does street lighting become a part of a cities identity?

10/5/2016 12:00 AM

London, Paris, New York, are cities that have one thing in common regarding their street lighting, the identity created by the iconic decorative street poles and fittings. Whether you are in one of the mentioned cities on business or as a tourist, the architectural beauty of their decorative street lighting does not blend into the scenery, but rather becomes an instrument of the cities identity.

From a historical perspective, decorative street lighting poles and lanterns were designed in part to create a signature element for the town or city of installation. As advances in technology have evolved from oil and gas lanterns, lit each evening by local lamplighters, to the modern revolution of solid state lighting, the form and style of the poles and fittings have continued to carry a role in a town or cities identity.

As we go back in history, many towns had neighboring foundries.   With the benefit of the foundries being local, many of the original pole designs were created by artisans who understood the unique character to each town, hence the designs became part of the towns' identity.

Cast iron poles are unique in that molds are required. The benefit derived from the use of molds is found in the architectural detail that can be created.   An additional benefit of cast iron poles is that they are durable. Cast iron poles have been proven over time to outlast “replica” versions manufactured with aluminum or composites. The strength of cast iron is significant compared to other options available today. Cast iron decorative street light poles can also become a structure to attach banners, flags and decorative planters.

As cities, towns, states and provinces move forward in defining downtown revitalization districts, Main Street programs, and complete streets initiatives, the architectural elements of decorative street lighting can become a valuable part of defining one city or town from the neighboring towns.   From a technological perspective, today's decorative street lights, with the benefit of solid state lighting (LED), can provide the benefits and features of energy savings, superior illumination control and color rendition.