If you were walking through Riverside's streets at dusk in the 1870s, you might cross paths with Larry the Lamplighter. Larry's job was to light the gas lamps every evening and extinguish them the following day. The Village police budget covered Larry's salary, since street lighting fell under police jurisdiction.
In keeping with Olmsted's and the Riverside Improvement Company's desire to combine the best aspects of urban and rural life, gas lamps were part of the Village's original development plan. The lamps were considered 'state-of-the-art' street lighting in 1870. Officials chose a particular globe to give light with little shadow, affording better-lighted streets than the city. About 5.5 miles of gas pipe supplied the power for the lamps.
Until 1897, Riverside's gas plant powered the lamps. The gas plant was located near the intersection of Harlem and Ogden Avenues.
Originally, the Village contained 200 gas street lamps. By 1972, the number had grown to 384. Today the Village maintains 400 gas street lights throughout the residential areas.
The gas street lamps are a beautiful and signature feature of Riverside.