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This Day In Market History: Edison Lights Up Wall Street

Each day, Benzinga takes a look back at a notable market-related moment that occurred on this date. What Happened? On this day in 1882, Thomas Edison’s Pearl Street Station provided the first electric power on Wall Street.

· 09/04/2020 06:31

Each day, Benzinga takes a look back at a notable market-related moment that occurred on this date.

What Happened? On this day in 1882, Thomas Edison’s Pearl Street Station provided the first electric power on Wall Street.

Where The Market Was: The Pearl Street Station predates the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500.

What Else Was Going On In The World? In 1882, outlaw Jesse James was killed by Robert Ford at age 34. German scientist Robert Koch discovered the tubercle bacillus, the cause of tuberculosis. A pound of cornmeal cost 4 cents.

Wall Street Goes Electric: Not only did Edison invent the light bulb, but his Edison Illuminating Company also designed the Pearl Street Station, the first ever U.S. commercial central power station. The station was located at 255-257 Pearl Street in Manhattan and powered by coal.

In addition to electricity, Edison also made use of the steam byproduct the plant generated, providing steam to local manufacturers and heat to nearby buildings.

Pearl Street Station began operating on Sept. 4, 1882, providing electricity to 508 customers in New York and a total of 10,164 lamps.

Among those electric lamps were 106 lamps at the offices of J.P. Morgan’s investment bank Drexel, Morgan & Co. Morgan had been one of Edison’s largest financial backers.

The original Pearl Street Station operated for eight years before it burned down in 1890. The only original dynamo that survived the fire is now kept at the Greenfield Village Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Photo credit: W. P. Snyder (1882, Harper's Weekly)