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New lights on Broadway

New lights on Broadway

March 12, 1948: Scene on Broadway in Los Angeles as new ornamental lighting units were turned on for the first time making street ten times brighter. Photograph taken from 10st St. and Broadway looking north.

This photo taken by former staff photographer Bob Jakobsen accompanied this short story on page one of the March 13, 1948 Los Angeles Times:

Brilliant new lights are transforming Broadway into a new Great White Way, 10 times as bright as a few years ago.

Mercury vapor lamps are bing installed from California St., a block north of Temple St., to Pico Blvd. When they’re all turned on next week, Street Lighting Engineer W. E. Lauer says, they’ll form the brightest lights in the nation except for one street in Niagara Falls, N.Y.

Providing the new look before Easter is costing $98,785. The old cast iron shafts and arms on 166 posts are being replaced with rolled steel. The new models are necessary to hold the pendant or hanging-type lamps instead of the upright magnetite arcs. The old bases are being retained.

Lauer says maintenance of the 332 lamps will be cheaper and each one’s 16,000-lumen brilliance is terrific. They’re 28 feet above the sidewalk, four feet higher than the old ones.

Broadway is the only street in the city with the old large arcs. When the first ones were installed in 1919, the town turned out for an old-fashioned street dance.

They were doomed recently when manufactures discontinued making parts for them. No celebration is being planned but motorists, merchants and window shoppers are happy.

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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