William Loveday, Jr. is our Fulton County Historian, and kindly shared this
us. Amidst his other priorities, he enjoys writing and publishing articles
like this one, through his column titled "Tales of Yesterday", in The Leader Herald,
which appears every other Monday. This article was published on
Monday, February 25, 2002 on page 9.
To say that 1890 was an eventful year for the people of Gloversville is a gross understatement.
Many positive events occurred, including the signing of a
bill by then-Gov. David Hill on March 19 that provided the city with its
first well-deserved charter.
There was cheering in the streets, bells rung and even
But as momentous as this event provided to be, there was
another event earlier in the year which left the citizens in awe and full of
jubilation and pride for their city. Electric streetlights were turned on
for the first time in the history of the city.
Now, this was quite an event back in 1890 as many people were
still marveling at the recent invention of electrical power and lights and were
mystified at what made them work.
Some were even in fear of electricity and needed reassurance
of its safety before they would put electricity into their homes.
It all started when, on July 30, 1889, the Gloversville
Electric Co. was incorporated and formed with the sale of $80,000 worth of
The company, with James Radford as president and John Bagley
as manager, obtained a contract with the city to provide electrical street
lighting and threw the switch on Jan. i, 1890. Happy New Year!
The company office was located at 14 S. Main Street and their
large plant was between West Center Street (now West Twelfth Avenue) and West
Green Avenue (now West Eighth Avenue). The electrical power was
produced by two 125 hp and 150 hp boilers supplying the steam to drive the
"latest" in Westinghouse and Knowles generating equipment. They
had a capability of lighting 1500 incandescent lamps and 250 arc lamps.
Initially, the city did not tap the full capacity of the
company and called for just 125 arc lamps connected to power plant by 130 miles
of heavy power lines.
At that time, Gloversville had many streets, so lights must
have been widely separated and dim, but to the people of that day, the change
was phenomenal. As time progressed, more lighting was added and the city
continued to brighten.
The power cost was considered quite cheap, and in 1896 the
contract was renewed for five more years.
The lights may have been dim and widely scattered, but for
the citizens of Gloversville in 1890, this was the height of modernization and
generated great pride in their city.