There Are Still Gaslights in Jamaica Plain

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Gaslights once lined most of the streets in Jamaica Plain. Originally, lamplighters went around to light them each night and then extinguish them in the morning. Later, gaslights became automated and the lamplighters were charged with maintaining all the lamps on their assigned routes - as explained in this article: The Old Lamplighter.

Meehan Place gaslight (Feb 2021) (Image courtesy JPHS)

In Jamaica Plain in 2021, we have just a few of these sentinels of the past left:

Burroughs Street - 3 lights can be found on Burroughs:

One is at the intersection with the Jamaicaway.

One is at Regent Circle

One’s whereabouts is not known (possibly Agassiz Park?)

Lights being stored at the Arborway Yard in January 2021 (Image courtesy JPHS)

31 Jamaica Street

2 Paul Gore Terrace

Meehan Place (this street runs off of Green Street)

10 Union Avenue (rear)

Forest Hills Street - 2 lights can be found on Forest Hills St:

Two different types at #327 (the Pole Yard)

165 Allandale Street (two here!)

90 Allandale Street

Long-term JPHS member Sarah Freeman provided the list of gaslights, which she said JPHS' Michael Reiskind had provided by memory previously. She provided the image of a stack of several lights the city left behind at 500 Arborway.

"Years ago, I was interested in them for the history/nostalgia. More recently, I drove around to see if they were still there and if I could find them (many are set back)," said Freeman to Jamaica Plain News. "It was like a scavenger hunt – and finding the light poles in the Pole Yard photo (taken from 500 Arborway) was like an unexpected find in a treasure hunt!

"The whole issue is more complex now thanks to our understanding of fossil fuel and its negative impacts," said Freeman. "Separate from the fuel source, the old streetlights were more warm, charming, and human scale than our typical contemporary streetlights, many of which seem cold and stark and lack character."

This article was originally published on Jamaica Plain Historical Society's website and has been republished with JPHS' permission on Jamaica Plain News. 

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