Saturday, December 8, 2007

No Electricty Yet

A small article published in November of 1886 featured the news from Jamaica Plain. Charity fund-raising efforts, a lecture on the Sandwich Islands, illustrated by a stereopticon, and a list of permits to build filled out the article. Inserted in these listings was this comment from the writer:

"It is a strange fact that the city of Boston does not run electric lighting wire out in this district. Depot square would be greatly benefited as would also many other places."

I've been curious about when gas and electric services came to Jamaica Plain. This negative statement is the first I've seen for electric lights. Edison invented his incandescent light bulb in 1879, and formed a company to provide power to communities in 1880. Here we have an anonymous writer puzzled that Jamaica Plain has not been wired just six years later.

I think we can assume that there were gas lights at the depot, so electric lights must have been seen as a significant improvement for the writer to see great benefit in them. At one time, there must have been many written records of exactly when Jamaica Plain was wired for electricity. Do any of those records still exist, or was it all lost?

The Jamaica Plain Historical Society has a great picture of the old train depot mentioned above. At that time, the railroad tracks ran at ground level. It was ten years later that the raised embankment remembered by some today was built.

Source: Boston Daily Globe November 11, 1886

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