Early Electrification of Buffalo
[NOTE: This is Part 1 of a fourteen part series of articles first developed as a PowerPoint presentation by Craig A. Woodworth, IEEE Life Member (a.k.a Cawoody), for a joint meeting of the Buffalo Section IEEE and the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society on April 14, 2004.]
Early Electrification of Buffalo: Advent of Alternating Current (Part 2)
Early Electrification of Buffalo: Developing a Renewable Energy Source (Part 3)
Early Electrification Of Buffalo: Niagara Falls Hydraulic Development - Adams Station (Part 4)
Early Electrification of Buffalo: Adams Station - Electric Development (Part 5)
Early Electrification of Buffalo: Niagara to Buffalo Transmission Lines (Part 6)
Early Electrification of Buffalo: Electricity Distribution Within Buffalo (Part 7)
Early Electrification of Buffalo: Early Power Company Interconnections (Part 8)
Early Electrification of Buffalo: Niagara Falls Water Diversion Limitations Result in Steam Station Construction (Part 9)
Early Electrification of Buffalo: Hydroelectric Reorganization to Increase Efficiency (Part 10)
Early Electrification of Buffalo: Types of Electric Service available in Buffalo (Part 11)
Early Electrification of Buffalo: 60-Hz Replaces 25-Hz (Part 12)
Early Electrification of Buffalo: Contributions of Five AIEE Presidents (Part 13)
Early Electrification of Buffalo: 1925 Residential Electric Bill (Part 14)
The City of Buffalo is located in western New York State at the junction of Lake Erie and the Niagara River. It is approximately ten miles north-to-south and six miles east-to-west with an area of 42 square miles. Niagara Falls is located 20 miles north of the city [Fig. 1.1]. In 1900 Buffalo, with a large commercial and industrial base, was the eighth largest city in the United States.
The earliest electric lights were arc lights.ii The electric discharge between two carbon or other type electrodes gave a brilliant light suitable for lighting streets, large stores and halls but not homes [Fig. 1.3].iii Arc lights for street lighting were usually on constant-current series circuits [Fig. 1.4].
Charles Brush was a pioneer in the development of arc lights [Fig. 1.5].iv In July 1881 the Brush
In October 1881 the United States Electric Lighting Company gave a lighting exhibition in a factory building at 296 Washington Street and installed ten lamps in the J. N. Adams store in November. In 1883 this company placed two direct current machines in Brush’s Wilkeson Street Station for the first incandescent lamps
The Buffalo General Electric Company was formed August 1, 1892 as a consolidation of the Brush Electric Light Company of Buffalo and the Thomson-Houston Electric Light and Power Company of Buffalo, which had combined with two of the previously mentioned companies [Fig. 1.11].ix
Next: Part 2 of 14: Early Electrification of Buffalo: Advent of Alternating Current
i. A ditty repeated in the author’s youth by his father Harry Woodworth (1893-1970).
ii. “Engineering the Electric Century: Arc lights create first surge of demand for electricity on large scale,” Electrical World, March 15, 1973: 30-31.
iii. Alfred Morgan, First Electrical Book for Boys (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1940), 128.
iv. “Giants of the Electric Century 1874-1974: Charles Francis Brush, Pioneer of electric arc lighting” Electrical World, May 1, 1973: 35.
v. Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation. The Niagara Mohawk Story (1823-1983): A Reference Manual of 160 Years of Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation and its Predecessor and Associated Companies, 2d ed. (Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation, Syracuse, NY, 1983, mimeographed), 67-69.
vi. Niagara Mohawk Story, 73.
vii. Niagara Mohawk Story, 71.
viii. Niagara Mohawk Story, 71.
ix. Niagara Mohawk Story, 75.