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Thread: The Last Days of Berlin’s Gas Streetlamps

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    Thumbs up The Last Days of Berlin’s Gas Streetlamps

    The Last Days of Berlin’s Gas Streetlamps - Looking at the German city in a different light.

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    It’s a warm spring evening in Chamissoplatz, a leafy square in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district. As the murmur of conversation spilling out of local restaurants blends with children’s laughter from the nearby playground, something magically mundane is about to happen. It starts around sunset with the clicking sound of the neighborhood’s beloved gas lamps firing up. Then comes the familiar golden glow Berliners have lived by for nearly two centuries.

    But these scenes are fading fast in the city home to more than half the world’s working gas streetlamps. Since 2011, the German city has been working on converting them to LED alternatives—a process brought back into sharp focus by climate change and Russia’s war against Ukraine—leaving conservationists feeling that Berlin is losing something with enormous cultural and practical value.

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    Gas lamps have been a part of the city’s landscape since they first lit Unter den Linden, Berlin’s central boulevard, in 1826. In the years before the Second World War, there were some 80,000 gas lamps in the city. That conflict destroyed about 80 percent of Berlin’s street-lighting infrastructure, but unlike most postwar European capitals, Berlin restored the gas lamps instead of replacing them with more modern lighting, especially in the city’s western half. West Berlin’s administration made this decision to avoid overreliance on one energy source, a move which seemed particularly wise after the Soviet Union blockaded the city from June 1948 until May 1949. For many West Berliners, the lamps symbolized independence from communist East Berlin, which built a predominantly electric network.


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    Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect. -- Woody Hayes​

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