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New York Times Building 1871
The New York Times building as shown in the Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Dec 1871. (source)



    Edison's central station, at No. 257 Pearle-street, was yesterday one of the busiest places down town. and Mr. Edison was by far the busiest man in the station. The giant dynamos were started up at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and, according to Mr. Edison, they will go on forever unless stopped by an earthquake. One-third of the lower district was lighted up, the territory being within the boundaries of Nassau and Pearl streets and Spruce and Wall streets. During the past few weeks the Edison Electric Illuminating Company has been engaged in completing the installations in the premises of its customers by the insertion of meters and lamps, and in procuring inspection of such premises by the Fire Underwriters. As the Board of Underwriters has but one expert, Mr. Osborne, the progress has been necessarily slow, but such portion as has been inspected was supplied last night. Mr. Edison said that the work will be pushed as rapidly as possible, so that the rest of the districtthat lying between Pearl-street and the East River and Spruce and Wall streets, will soon be lighted. The laying of the steam-heating pipes, Mr. Edison added, had interfered with some of the pipes of his company and it might be necessary to-day to shut off the current in that portion of the district wherein THE TIMES office is situated. The current would be shut off until his pipes could be shored up in that neighborhood.

    Yesterday for the first time THE TIMES Building was illuminated by electricity. Mr. Edison had at last perfected his incandescent light, had put his machinery in order, and had started up his engines, and last evening his company lighted up about one-third of the lower City district in which THE TIMES Building stands. The light came in in sections. First there came in a series of holes in the floors and walls, then several miles of protected wires, then a transparent little egg-shaped glass globe, and, last of all, the fixtures and ground glass shades that made everything complete. They were temporary fixtures to give the light a trial, and so were put in with as little tearing and cutting as possible. To each of the gas fixtures in the establishment a bronze arm was attached, and the electric lamps were suspended from the ends of these arms. The lamp is simplicity itself. At the top is a brass circle, from which are suspended the shade and the lamp proper. The latter is a glass globe about four inches long, and the shape of a dropping tear, broad at the bottom, narrow in the neck, in which is enclosed the carbon horseshoe that gives the light. The globe is air-tight, and the air has been exhausted. leaving the carbon horseshoe in a perfect vacuum. When the thumbscrew is turned, and the connection with the electric wires is thus formed, the electric current makes this carbon so brilliant, that it would be unpleasant to look at. It is not intended to be looked at, however, being entirely hidden by the ground glass shade. The whole lamp looks so much like a gas-burner surmounted by a shade that nine people out of ten would not have known the rooms were lighted by electricity, except that the light was more brilliant than gas and a hundred times steadier. To turn on the light nothing is required but to turn the thumbscrew; no matches arc needed, no patent appliances. As soon as it is dark enough to need artificial light, you turn the thumbscrew and the light is there, with no nauseous smell, no flicker and no glare.

    It was about 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon when the lights were put in operation. It was then broad daylight, and the light looked dim. It was not till about 7 o'clock. when it began to grow dark, that the electric light really made itself known and showed how bright and steady it is. Then the 27 electric lamps in the editorial rooms and the 25 lamps in the counting-rooms made those departments as bright as day, but without any unpleasant glare. It was a light that a man could sit down under and write for hours without the consciousness of having any artificial light about him. There was a very slight amount of heat from each lamp, but not nearly as much as from a gas-burner – one-fifteenth as much as from gas, the inventor says. The light was soft, mellow, and grateful to the eye and it seemed almost like writing by daylight to have a light without a particle of flicker and with scarcely any heat to make the head ache. The electric lamps in THE TIMES Building were as thoroughly tested last evening as any light could be tested in a single evening, and tested by men who have battered their eyes sufficiently by years of night work to know the good and bad points of a lamp, and the decision was unanimously in favor of the Edison electric lamp as against gas. One night is a brief period in which to judge of the merits or demerits of a new system of lighting, but so far as it has been tested in THE TIMES office the Edison electric light has proved in every way satisfactory. When the composing-rooms, the press-rooms, and the other parts of THE TIMES Building are provided with these lamps there will be from 300 to 400 of them in operation in the buildingenough to make every corner of it as bright as day.

From: The New York Times: 5 September 1882, page 8.
The image of the New York Times building was not part of the original article.

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Today in Science History, event description for First Newspaper Using Central Electricity on 4 Sep 1882.