There were dozens of these old suspended street lights around Hingham and I fondly remember them. I have never seen them in any other community here in New England . From photographs I know they have been (and are still are) rather commonplace in Europe for illuminating intersections for decades. There also are some spanwire street lights in service in the Los Angeles, CA and Detroit, MI vicinities. This method of street lighting seems like a rather uniform and efficient technique in lighting a broad 360-degree area for safe travel. Modern pole-mounted roadway fixtures with controlled optics as well as floodlights do this kind of job today.
This fixture was made by the Wheeler Reflector Company and dates back to the 1920s. It remained in service until the early 1960s when it was replaced by a "gumball" glass globe fixture using a mercury vapor lamp inside of it. The upgraded luminaire remained on a spanwire and in service until 1982 when it was replaced by a high pressure sodium light, mounted on a bracket arm on a nearby wooden pole.