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INTRODUCTION OF ILLUMINATING GAS
Excerpted from the book
Troy’s One Hundred Years 1789-1889
Published in 1891 by William H. Young, 7 and 9 First Street, Troy, NY
The introduction of gas for illuminating purposes was slow and difficult. An exhibition of a number of gas-lights was made in Troy in July 1818, The following advertisement described its novel character: “The subscriber (Samuel Willard) informs the citizens of Troy and the public at large that he has at a great expense fitted up an apparatus for a splendid and brilliant exhibition of this wonderful production of chemistry. An invisible, aerial, and permanently elastic fluid will be made to burn in the atmospheric air with a steady and silent flame, and to afford a soft and most remarkably pleasant light. The gas-lights will be exhibited during the whole of the present week at Barney’s City Coffee House, near the court-house in Troy. They will appear in various fanciful forms, as issuing from common burners, from chandeliers, from the beaks and wings of eagles, from a cross, a crescent, and a fish.”
Some of the citizens favoring the construction of a plant for the manufacture of illuminating gas, on March 29th, 1825, obtained the passage of “an act to incorporate the Gas-Light Company of the City of Troy,” by which Samuel McCoun, Richard P. Hart, John D. Dickinson, Jedediah Tracy, Gurdon Corning, Nathan Warren, George Tibbits, Gilbert Reilay, Elias Pattison, James Van Schoonhoven, James Van Brackle, Warren Kellogg, Jeremiah Dauchy, John Paine, Ephraim Gurley, Alsop Weed, Gordon Grant, John Gary, and Daniel Southwick were constituted the first directors of “The Troy Gas Light Company,” which was privileged to possess capital stock not exceeding $150,000. The company, it seems, never accomplished the purposes of its organization.
On July 19th, 1847, the people of the city were again invited to inspect the illuminating effects of burning gas: “Our citizens will have an opportunity of witnessing a beautiful gas-light in front of the court-house this evening, about 9 o’clock. It is a different article from that used in Albany and other cities. It gives a more brilliant light and has no offensive smell. It is called Clutchett’s Solar gas, and is manufactured from old grease by a very simple apparatus. The Capitol, at Washington, Coleman’s Hotel, and numerous other public buildings are lighted by the gas. The apparatus will remain at the court-house for a number of days, when our citizens will be able to judge the merits of the gas as a cheap and beautiful light.”
On the following day, a report of the exhibition appeared in the same newspaper: “The front of the court-house was beautifully illuminated last night. The light from the gas lamps temporarily placed there was very fine, although the evening was not favorable. As it was, the light thrown upon the park and surrounding buildings was very brilliant. The Troy Band, always ready to encourage matters appertaining to the city’s welfare, discoursed some eloquent music in honor of the occasion.”
The act to incorporate the Troy Gas-Light Company was passed by the Legislature, February 16th, 1848. The gas-works were erected on the east side of Hill Street, between Liberty and Washington streets, The capital stock was $100,000, of which $11,000 were taken by citizens of Troy, the remainder by citizens of Philadelphia. The city was first lighted by the gas made by the company on October 2d, 1848.