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7:45 AM / Monday February 6, 2023

1 Apr 2016

Baltimore’s Grand Illumination

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April 1, 2016 Category: Travel Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO:  Baltimore Inner Harbor (Photo: S.Borisov / shutterstock.com)

By Renée S. Gordon

Two hundred years ago Baltimore, became the first city in the United States to illuminate their streets with gas lamps. But the legacy of urban center lighting can be documented to Roman efforts in 500 BC to use vegetable oil to light lamps on the façade of their homes. Slaves ensured that the lanterns were lit, extinguished and constantly filled. The early Chinese were more inventive when they channeled volcanic gas via bamboo pipes to Peking streets.

Before Columbus was even born, the Lord Mayor of London declared that every house be equipped with an exterior lantern on evenings in the winter. More than 400 years later London’s first street was gas-lit. Baltimore Town, having a European model and because of its role as a trading, shipping and marketing center, realized the importance of lighting the night streets to increase the number of working hours and stop crime as early as the 1770s. Lamps were situated outside each, sixth, house and a “public” lamp was hung in the middle of Baltimore and Howard Streets. Setting a pace for the country, Baltimore’s streets were lit with oil-lamps until the early 1800s. baltimore.org

Dr. Benjamin Kugler of Philadelphia created a way to illuminate houses and streets using what he referred to as carbureted hydrogen gas. Pennsylvania artist Rembrandt Peale exhibited the process in his Baltimore museum and art salon at a fee. He and a group of men presented a plan to the Mayor and City Council to install piping and light the streets and homes of the city. On June 17, 1816, the proposition passed and The Gas-light Company of Baltimore was incorporated.

The first gas-lit building was the Belvedere Theater and the first gas streetlight in America was at Market and Lemon Streets on February 17, 1817. The gas lighting ceremony was well attended. In 1997, a replica of the original lamp was placed on the corner of North Holliday and East Baltimore Streets.

Disc Dancing (Photo: Renée S. Gordon)

Disc Dancing (Photo: Renée S. Gordon)

Baltimore from its earliest incarnation combined light, innovation and entertainment. This year, from March 28-April 3, the city will present the first, large-scale, festival of light, Light City Baltimore. The celebration seeks to honor and highlight the city’s artistic, and innovative heritage by offering free events and activities over a three day period that spotlight these themes.

Twenty-eight original works of light art, 50 concerts, 100 performances and a series of lectures and educational activities will be offered along the historic harbor and extending into the neighborhoods. Artists from the United States and abroad will participate by creating works to be displayed and interacted with, many designed to educate the public on issues of sustainability, energy use and global environment. Lightcity.org

The artist Paul Rucker, in collaboration with the Reginald Lewis Museum has created a series of lampposts together make up an installation called “In the Light of History.” Nine posts are situated in places where events pertinent to the slave trade from 1830-50 occurred. Information is available online and on the artwork. Inlightofhistory.com

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Light Mural (Photo: Renée S. Gordon)

Just as the city joined in to revel in the initial gas lighting of the city, Baltimore’s residents and business men are supporting this groundbreaking event. Always an affordable destination, for the duration of Light City Baltimore there are even more bargains to be had. The festival is complimentary and accommodations, eateries, shops and attractions are offering special discounts. baltimore.org/special-offers

 The AAA Four Diamond Hotel Monaco Baltimore, situated inside what was the B&O Railroad Headquarters, is extending a welcome to visitors that includes historic Art-deco architectural features and packages designed around Light City Baltimore. The building was one of the first to be completely lit. monaco-baltimore.com

I wish you smooth travels!

TRAVEL TIPS

PBS’ Civil War medical drama “Mercy Street” will be presented for a second season and Alexandria, Virginia has announced their second season of eight new tours, themed events, activities and hotel packages. Information is available at visitalexandriava.com

READING on the GO

“In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World,” by Judith Carney and Richard Nicholas Rosomoff, recounts the influence African American food ways had on the larger culture.

“Son of the Black Sword” by New York Times best-selling author Larry Correia immerses you in a mythical kingdom fraught with war, intrigue and quests for power. This is book one of the Saga of the Forgotten Warrior and it promises to provide thrills for some time to come.

at no extra cost. Visit HamptonbyHilton.com and find your dream destination and learn about the 100 percent Hampton Guarantee.

4. Forget the diet, savor the local cuisine

There’s no room for a diet on a girlfriends’ getaway. Forget rules and enjoy the authentic cuisine your destination has to offer. That could mean visiting a small, independent cafe for lunch and splurging on that 5-star restaurant you have been reading about for dinner and drinks.

5. Hit the city hotspots

You won’t be able to explore every inch of a city in one weekend, so brainstorm with the gals and hit your must-see hotspots. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done in a half day. In just four hours, Herrera and her best friend explored San Francisco, finding time to drive through the Golden Gate Bridge State Park to Lombard Street and Union Square, eat brunch at Bulga, ride a streetcar and, of course, snap a hilltop photo of Alcatraz.

As part of Hampton by Hilton’s Ultimate Seekender Team, Bren will continue to embark on weekend adventures. With these tips, you, too, can travel in style and on budget with your gal pals. For some inspiration, trip ideas and to learn how to embrace your inner Seekender, visit HamptonSeekender.com.

u have been reading about for dinner and drinks.

5. Hit the city hotspots

You won’t be able to explore every inch of a city in one weekend, so brainstorm with the gals and hit your must-see hotspots. You’ll be surprised how much you can get done in a half day. In just four hours, Herrera and her best friend explored San Francisco, finding time to drive through the Golden Gate Bridge State Park to Lombard Street and Union Square, eat brunch at Bulga, ride a streetcar and, of course, snap a hilltop photo of Alcatraz.

As part of Hampton by Hilton’s Ultimate Seekender Team, Bren will continue to embark on weekend adventures. With these tips, you, too, can travel in style and on budget with your gal pals. For some inspiration, trip ideas and to learn how to embrace your inner Seekender, visit HamptonSeekender.com.

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