STREET LIGHTING. In 1846 the Cleveland Gas Light & Coke Co. was organized, spelling the end for oil-fired lamps, which were noted by publications of the time to be in for their "final trimming." However, little real progress was made with gas development until the end of the decade, when the gas manufacturing company acquired new management. By 1849, however, smoky oil-filled streetlamps were being replaced with gaslights in downtown Cleveland. By December of that year, gaslights could be seen on Superior from the river to Erie (E. 9th) St., on PUBLIC SQUARE, and on Water (W. 9th), Merwin, and Bank (W. 6th) streets. The Cleveland TRUE DEMOCRAT reported that the "new gas lights give everywhere a social air, and people move about as if there were no more trouble from darkness and the evils thereof." By 1850 some 50 gaslights were in place on Superior and River (W. 11th NW) streets. Streetlamps typically would be kept on until midnight, except on moonlit nights. The west side remained without gaslights apparently until 1867, when the Peoples Gas Light Co. brought them gas lighting.
Gaslights prevailed as streetlighting equipment in Cleveland until 1879. Following the initial use of Brush arc lighting in clothing and other retail establishments in Boston and Philadelphia in 1878, in Apr. 1879 CHAS. F. BRUSH, then associated with the Cleveland Telegraph Supply Co., constructed 12 lamps of 2,000 candlepower, on ornate 150' standards erected on Public Square. Subsequently the city council contracted for the arc lighting of Public Square and adjacent streets for an amount not to exceed $1,348.95 annually. Soon Brush arc lights began to appear on downtown Cleveland streets. In 1881 Brush and associates purchased the Cleveland Telegraph Supply Co. and formed the Brush Electric Co. to capitalize on his dynamos, arc lights, and related equipment. A central power station was erected at Ontario and St. Clair streets, and wires began to appear on street poles, making Cleveland a pioneer city in the electric lighting of city streets. Brush lamps were also installed in other cities, such as New York, Montreal, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and San Francisco. In 1892 the CLEVELAND ELECTRIC ILLUMINATING CO. was established, combining Brush Electric Light & Power with the Cleveland Electric Light Co., which was lighting downtown stores. The new company began installing more easily managed Edison incandescent lighting equipment, and soon the Brush arc-light masts were dismantled. The next several decades witnessed improvements in incandescent street lights and their expanded distribution. CEI acquired a competitor in 1914 with the building of a municipal light plant along the lakefront at E. 53rd St.
Decades later, new streetlighting innovations emerged with such types as sodium-vapor lighting and monochromatic types, which offered all-weather visibility on busy, urban streets. In the 1980s few incandescent lights remained on Cleveland's streets; new installations were predominantly either mercury vapor or high-pressure sodium lamps. In 1986 there were approx. 52,000 streetlamps in Cleveland. Of these, CEI operated about 24,000 with the remaining 28,000 under the jurisdiction of the municipal light company. Where both CEI and the municipal company (MUNY, or, more recently, Cleveland Public Power) had street poles, MUNY erected the street lighting. CEI installed lights on streets where it owned the poles, but when MUNY installed new street poles, MUNY replaced CEI lights.