First Gas Street Lamp.

Oldest Streetlight in America

Field review by the editors.

Baltimore, Maryland

In the early years of the USA its cities were illuminated after dark with street lamps that burned candles or whale oil. That changed on February 7, 1817, when Baltimore became the second city in the world (London was the first) with an outdoor gas street light. People were amazed, the idea took off, and gas lamps on poles became the street lighting of choice until they were replaced by electric lights in the 1920s.

Most of Baltimore's old gas street lamps ended up in junkyards. Some were given to Cape May, New Jersey, for its historic district. But this one, the oldest, survived, maybe. Some accounts say that the current lamp is a replica, built in 1991. Others say that the pole, at least, is original.

The lamp was given its own historical plaque on its 200th birthday, reconnected to a gas line, and has burned continuously ever since.

Oldest Streetlight in America

Address:
1 Holliday St., Baltimore, MD
Directions:
Downtown, on the northwest corner of Holliday and E. Baltimore Sts. It has a green pole, and is kept perpetually lit.
Hours:
Lit at night. Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Phoenix Shot TowerPhoenix Shot Tower, Baltimore, MD - < 1 mi.
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Ouija Board Named HereOuija Board Named Here, Baltimore, MD - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Atlantic Surf Fountain, Silver Spring, MD - 30 mi.

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