How the Tenement Changed--Light

Electric light fixtures found in 97 Orchard Street
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Gas lighting was added to the tenement sometime between 1896 and 1905, possibly to comply with the Tenement House Act of 1901, which required a light source on every floor of the public hallway from sunset to sunrise.

Tenants paid for gas individually, through a coin-operated gas meter in the kitchen of their apartments.

Although Thomas Edison’s “electric illuminating system” went into operation in 1882, 97 Orchard Street wasn’t electrified until sometime after 1918. One resident remembers that electricity was added in 1924, the year he started kindergarten.