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.]
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
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: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.