Cities of Light: Two Centuries of Urban Illumination, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Cities of Light

Two Centuries of Urban Illumination, 1st Edition

Edited by Sandy Isenstadt, Margaret Maile Petty, Dietrich Neumann


232 pages | 32 Color Illus. | 49 B/W Illus.

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Cities of Light is the first global overview of modern urban illumination, a development that allows human wakefulness to colonize the night, doubling the hours available for purposeful and industrious activities.  Urban lighting is undergoing a revolution due to recent developments in lighting technology, and increased focus on sustainability and human-scaled environments. Cities of Light is expansive in coverage, spanning two centuries and touching on developments on six continents, without diluting its central focus on architectural and urban lighting.  Covering history, geography, theory, and speculation in urban lighting, readers will have numerous points of entry into the book, finding it easy to navigate for a quick reference and or a coherent narrative if read straight through. With chapters written by respected scholars and highly-regarded contemporary practitioners, this book will delight students and practitioners of architectural and urban history, area and cultural studies, and lighting design professionals and the institutional and municipal authorities they serve.

At a moment when the entire world is being reshaped by new lighting technologies and new design attitudes, the longer history of urban lighting remains fragmentary.  Cities of Light aims to provide a global framework for historical studies of urban lighting and to offer a new perspective on the fast-moving developments of lighting today.


[T]he volume contributes significantly to the furthering of studies into the realm of nocturnal urbanity and urban illumination. It provides an indispensable contribution to the study of nocturnal luminosity, and should indeed awaken the interest of any scholar or practitioner who engages in studies of light, darkness and cities.European Planning Studies, Casper Laing Ebbensgaard, Queen Mary University of London, UK

[T]he chapters show that in some ways the history of lighting parallels the history of urban development. A lighting scheme can be the centrepiece of an urban regeneration project. Or mismanagement of lighting provision can be traced to colonial histories of unequal infrastructure distribution. As described in this edited volume, lighting illuminates both places and ideas. Christine Ro, Environment & Urbanization

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Istanbul Chapter 2: Boston Chapter 3: London Chapter 4: Paris Chapter 5: Mumbai Chapter 6: Buffalo Chapter 7: Los Angeles Chapter 8: Blackpool Chapter 9: Berlin Chapter 10: Sao Paolo Chapter 11: Lagos Chapter 12: New York City Chapter 13: Mexico City Chapter 14: Buenos Aires Chapter 15: Johannesburg Chapter 16: Los Angeles Chapter 17: Tokyo Chapter 18: Shanghai Chapter 19: Moscow Chapter 20: Vienna Chapter 21: Paris Chapter 22: Washington, D.C. Chapter 23: Sydney Chapter 24: Yilan Chapter 25: London Chapter 26: Derby Chapter 27: Hong Kong Chapter 28: Huangzhou Chapter 29: Berlin Chapter 30: Oulu Chapter 31: New York City

About the Editors

Sandy Isenstadt teaches the history of modern architecture at the University of Delaware, USA. His writings range over topics as varied as postwar reformulations of modern architecture, visual perception in the built environment, landscape views, and American material culture. He is currently working on a book examining novel luminous spaces introduced by electric lighting in the twentieth century.

Margaret Maile Petty is a senior lecturer in design history at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Her research broadly investigates the discourse, production, and representation of artificial light in the built environment, with a particular focus on architectural lighting and interiors. She has published broadly on the historical significance and development of lighting design in many academic journals and edited books. In addition, she regularly writes for leading lighting industry publications on a variety of contemporary issues, practices, and projects relevant to the discipline today.

Dietrich Neumann is professor in the history of art and architecture at Brown University, USA. His research concentrates on late 19th and early 20th century European and American architecture. Neumann has published on the history of buildings materials, German skyscrapers of the 1920s, the history of film set design, and architectural illumination.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / City Planning & Urban Development