In the latter decades of the nineteenth century, municipal governments in the United States and Europe began to install early electric grids to provide industrial, commercial, and residential electrification. In 1882, the Edison Illuminating Company built New York City’s first power plant at 257 Pearl Street. Though it served only a limited number of mostly wealthy customers at first, the service expanded rapidly. In this drawing from Harper’s Weekly, workers install electrical tubing.
How might uneven access to residential electrical lighting have reinforced class divisions in the late nineteenth century in urban areas like New York?
“The Electric Light in Houses — Laying the Electrical Tubes,” Harper’s Weekly, June 21, 1882.
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