There are few constants in Seattle’s history. Perhaps the only real constant is how Seattle changes and progresses. It’s a city that, in its nascent development, literally moved mountains with its multiple regrade projects to create a new downtown landscape. When the city burned nearly to the ground in the Great Seattle Fire in 1889, the townspeople built over the charred remains to create some of its most storied neighborhoods.
It is also a city that cherishes the relics of its past. Like the Space Needle’s recent facelift, Seattle appreciates a modern upgrade to its municipal monuments.
In late 2017, Seattle City Light (City Light) took on the immense challenge of upgrading one of its own signature monuments by converting the city’s 2,000+ downtown globe streetlights from High-Pressure Sodium to Light-Emitting Diode (LED). While the iconic spherical-style light design has taken on different iterations over time, the design has been an integral part of Seattle’s downtown identity dating back to the utility’s founding more than a century ago.
After a change in design from the 1930s to the late 1960s, the globe light design returned to downtown Seattle in the 1970s. By the late 2010s, the lights were a burden to repair. The globes themselves began to age and required extensive maintenance. This aging infrastructure left downtown dotted with darkness, creating a public safety issue. A project of this magnitude required broad-range community involvement while finding a manufacturer whose lighting technology could meet the utility’s requirements.
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