Book Reviews: 'City Lights' And 'Architecture Of The Night'

Rediscover the magic of electric light, and its impact upon urbanization.
November 8, 2003, 9am PST | David Gest
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Yale History of Art Professor Sandy Isenstadt reviews "City Lights: Illuminating the American Night" by John A. Jakle and "Architecture of the Night" by Dietrich Neumann, in the Harvard Design Magazine. Each author "examine[s] the nature of night lighting and its role in building a modern society...It is easy to forget that light, so abundant now, was once a miracle of biblical proportion; it is hard to recall that light, so convenient now, has meaning only in relation to the darkness that surrounds it...[both books] render how magical electric light was when it first came into wide use in Europe and the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and how, just as quickly, it became routine...[Jakle successfully joins] myriad facts into a narrative of historical change with the main characters of technology, individual genius, bureaucratic torpor, and a full range of overreaching motives and constraining circumstances...[Neumann] delivers on [his] promise to establish electric lighting as 'a chapter in the cultural history of modern architecture.' "

Thanks to David Gest

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Published on Friday, September 26, 2003 in Harvard Design Magazine
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