35 New Jersey Firsts – #28 – First Town Lighted by Electricity

by Alice Magdziak • August 3, 2014 • Third StateComments (0)2850

The first town to be lighted by electricity was Roselle in 1883 based on an experiment by Thomas Edison.

New Jersey officially recognizes 1664 as the year the state was founded when land owned by the Duke of York was given to Sir George Carteret and John Lord Berkeley. That transaction record proclaimed that “said Tract of Land is hereafter to be called by the name or names of New Cesarea or New Jersey.” That makes this year New Jersey’s 350th Anniversary! To celebrate this major milestone, we’ve undertaken a project we’re calling 35 New Jersey Firsts where we highlight 35 things that first came to life in New Jersey.

photo credit: boroughofroselle.com

photo credit: boroughofroselle.com

Roselle in Union County was the first village in the world to be lighted by Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb. It was set up as an experiment by Edison to prove that a town could be electrified using a single generating station. The generator started up on January 19, 1883. From its location at Locust Street and West First Avenue, it sent power through overhead wires to a store, railroad station, about forty houses, and one-hundred-fifty street lights. In April of that year the First Presbyterian Church of Roselle became the first church in the world to be so lighted when the thirty-bulb “electrolier” was installed within it. Although damaged by fire in 1949, the electrolier was salvaged, restored and re-hung in the church where it can be seen today.

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