Moonlight Towers - Austin, TX, USA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member WayBetterFinder
N 30° 16.665 W 097° 45.248
14R E 619829 N 3350219
Quick Description: Austin's Moonlight Towers are steel structures placed around the center of Austin in 1894-95 to light the city streets at night.
Location: Texas, United States
Date Posted: 9/19/2010 6:24:39 AM
Waymark Code: WM9QEB
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member scrambler390
Views: 25

Long Description:
The 31 original steel towers used to light the Austin streets at night have dwindled down to only 17 towers remaining, but this system of city lighting is the last known system of tower lights to exist. The original towers were bought from the city of Detroit, installed by the Fort Wayne Electric Company in 1894-1895, and were turned on May 6, 1895. They have been used continuously since then and have been off for only a few short periods (1). Each tower is a triangular shaped 150 foot high structure of steel that has six large lamps on its top. This is mounted on a 15 foot iron pedestal that is embedded in concrete. The towers are held securely by a system of steel cables (guy wires), giving the towers a total height of 165 feet (2). The first lights were carbon arc. In the 1920's the lights were converted to incandescent lights, and in 1936 the lights were again changed to mercury vapor. The carbon arc system provided enough light to see the time on a pocket watch within a 3,000 foot diameter circle around the towers. Today's mercury vapor lights provide less light (covering only four square blocks) but are more efficient (1). The Austin system of lighting towers became a state landmark in April 1970, were listed in the National Register of Historical Places in 1976, and were designated a state archeological landmark in 1981 (1,3,4). From 1993-1995, Austin authorized all remaining towers to be dismantled, maintenanced and restored. A replica of these Moonlight Towers was installed in Zilker Park in 1965 from which the tradition of the Zilker Tree began and continues as an Austin Christmas tradition (5).

Source references:
(1) Moonlight Towers - Austin, National Register Listing (visit link) ,
(2) Wikipedia, (visit link) ,
(3) Moonlight Towers, Austin's - Austin, Historical Marker (visit link) ,
(4) Austin "Moonlight Towers" - Austin, State Archeological Landmark, (visit link) ,
(5) (visit link)
Street address:
1111 West 12th Street
Intersection of W. 12th Street and Blanco Street (SW corner)
Austin, TX USA

County / Borough / Parish: Travis County, Texas

Year listed: 1976

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Event, Architecture/Engineering

Periods of significance: 1875-1899

Historic function: Government

Current function: Government

Privately owned?: no

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 2: [Web Link]

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Hours of operation: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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