Arlington, MA, 1900. Closeup View of Unusual Glass Mirrored Street Light Reflector

By Joe Maurath, Jr.; posted September 16, 2020

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The Wheeler Reflector Company (Boston, Massachusetts) offered this unique style of street lighting reflector during the mid 1880s through the 1890s. I have seen this style in their old catalogs, however this is the first image I've noted with one of these reflectors in service. None are presently known to exist. I believe they were unusual (and more expensive) in their day. The upwards, bowed open curved area on both sides of the reflector provided extended linear illumination along the stretch of road. Wheeler was known for novel optical systems for electric and gas lighting. The company offered all sorts of mirrored fixtures and lights for indoor use and they were more usual.

One of the proprietors of the Wheeler Reflector Company devised an idea around 1880 of "delivering" light. This concept involved placing small mirrors, each mounted at a 45-degree angle, placed inside a pipe such that the illumination from the source (in those days, a bright gas or kerosene mantle) was "transmitted" through the pipe via the angled mirrors inside it for lighting another room, etc.

I do not think this invention caught on too widely. However it is *very* interesting to note that Wheeler's "light pipe" principle utilizes the same basic concept employed among today's fiber-optic technologies.

Click "Previous" for an overall view of the pole this fixture was mounted on and its surroundings.