History
In 1867 a contract for lighting the streets by gas was granted by the City of Los Angeles Gas Company. Only a few units were ever installed. By 1882, when street lighting by electricity was finally authorized, there were 136 lamps operated by gas.

Arrangements were made in 1900 with the Los Angeles Electric Company and San Gabriel Electric Company to install electric lines and fixtures an supply energy and maintenance. In 1905, Broadway south of First Street, was lit by the city's first incandescent ornamental electrical lighting system.

The Bureau of Street Lighting was created within the Department of Public Works in 1925.

TimeLine
-- 1850
-- 1875
-- 1900
-- 1925
-- 1950
-- 1975
-- 2000
-- 2025
1867: First gas lamps

1867: First gas lamps

were installed along Main Street. A total of 43 lamps were installed. A lamplighter on horseback rode down the street at dusk to light the streetlights.
1882: First electric streetlights

1882: First electric streetlights

were installed in the downtown area. Installed on 150-foot tall towers, they illuminated large areas to a level similar to the full moon. Approximately 30 towers were installed from 1882 to 1885. Mayor Toberman turned the system on for the first time.
1905: First ornamental street lighting system

1905: First ornamental street lighting system

was installed on Broadway Street. The system consisted of 135 seven-globe, cast-iron poles. Similar style five-globe "cluster" lights were installed throughout Downtown LA, Hollywood Boulevard, Sherman Way in the Valley, and even in the Reseda business area within a few years.
1920: Ornamental street lighting

1920: Ornamental street lighting

proliferated in Los Angeles - on major streets, bridges and many neighborhoods through the 1920s and 1930s. Ornamental lighting became a significant part of the streetscapes of Los Angeles.
1925: Bureau of Street Lighting established

1925: Bureau of Street Lighting established

Prior to this time, Public Works had engineered the lighting systems and the "Bureau of Power and Light," (now the Department of Water and Power) which supplied power, operated and maintained the small lighting system. The maintenance facility was located on Barranca Street and Avenue 21, in the northeastern section of the City in Lincoln Heights, until about 1958.
1936: Electricity from Hoover Dam

1936: Electricity from Hoover Dam

This greatly enhanced the City's ability to provide lighting throughout.
1956: Increase in lighting throughout the city

1956: Increase in lighting throughout the city

Some of the factors that led to an increase in lighting included postwar development, a city requirement in 1956 to install lighting whenever a developer wanted to improve property, and the 1965 riots that highlighted the need for streetlights in residential areas. These factors increased streetlights throughout the City from 50,000 in the 1940's, to 150,000 in the 1970's, and to about 230,000 today. Currently, about 2/3 of the City streets are now lit.
1970: Changes in lamp technology

1970: Changes in lamp technology

The City has progressed from installing incandescent lamps (like what is in your house) which must be replaced every 6 months, to mercury vapor in the 1950's and 1960's, to high pressure sodium in the 1970's which is replaced approximately every 5 years. The energy crises of the 1970's was a significant motivation to use less energy and save operating costs. With the addition of the induction lighting in 2002, these advances have significantly increased the street lights' efficiency and effectiveness.
1972: Bureau's maintenance division

1972: Bureau's maintenance division

From about 1958 to early 1971, when the great Sylmar Earthquake hit, the Bureau's field crews were housed in a recycled trolley-car barn on Virgil Avenue at Santa Monica Boulevard in East Hollywood. After the earthquake, the barn was rendered unusable. A new facility was built at the same property. Between 1972 and 1973 a new facility was built at the same property facing Santa Monica Boulevard, which is still the site of our main Field Operations location.
2003: Night crews & street lighting repair

2003: Night crews & street lighting repair

In 2003 the Bureau, for the first time ever, initiated the use of night crews that patrol the entire lighting system. These crews replace many of the lights out even before they are reported. In addition, reports of lights out are received from the City 311 ambassadors instantaneously through the Bureau's automated Asset Maintenance System. Current technology has also allowed the Bureau to implement the deployment of a wireless web-based, real-time incident reporting system for the light outages. This system automatically detects the light malfunction and reports the location back to the Bureau for repair. Currently the Bureau's field crews repair approximately 50,000 streetlights every year.
2006: Street lighting maintenance

2006: Street lighting maintenance

In 2006 the Bureau of Street Lighting assumed all maintenance work for the streelights in the City. This work was previously divided between the Bureau and the Department of Water and Power. This consolidation greatly increased the efficiency of reparing lights out in the City.
2009: Light emitting diode(LED)

2009: Light emitting diode(LED)

The Bureau of Street Lighting has tested and started the deployment of LED streetlights throughout the City of Los Angeles. These lights save approximately 40% to 60% of energy from existing fixtures while providing the same amount of illumination.