Gaslamps are heating up.
Several redevelopment offices throughout Los Angeles County have contacted the Southern California Gas Co. in recent months about using real gaslamps in their projects, reflecting a growing trend toward nostalgic cityscaping.
Sparking the movement was a redevelopment project in Montrose, according to Anthony Tartaglia, district manager of the Gas Co.
“Now I’m hearing from other cities who want to replicate that old-fashioned feeling they see in Montrose,” he said.
The Montrose project, which was designed by the city of Glendale’s redevelopment division, was largely financed by a special Gas Co. marketing assistance program. The Gas Co. donated $10,000 in funds and in-kind services toward the $13,000 cost of installing the 40 gaslamps in Montrose.
That particular program has ended, according to Gas Co. officials, but the utility continues to help other districts through its community outreach activities. The Gas. Co. provides its personnel and equipment free of charge for municipal improvement projects.
Other areas for which gaslamps are being actively pursued include Fairfax Avenue between Third Street and Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, a two-block stretch of Magnolia Park along Hollywood Way in Burbank, and several areas of Newhall.
“We’ve been influenced by the commercial success of the Montrose and San Diego gaslamp districts,” said Susan Levi, chair of the community group seeking gaslamps for the Fairfax District. “More importantly, we want to give a new sense of identity to the area and return to Fairfax’s European roots.”
The use of gaslamps is increasing across the nation, according to Jim Smulian, president of U.S. Gaslight, a division of Trimble House Corp. and a principal supplier of gaslamps in the United States.
“I’ve noticed a resurgence in interest in gaslights since 1994,” he said. “We’re seeing a nostalgic trend in streetscaping across the U.S. Also, gaslights are already efficient energy users, and we’ve developed technology that will cut their energy use by 50 percent.”
The Gas Co.’s Tartaglia agrees that while gaslamps’ emerging popularity is primarily due to aesthetics, their cost-effectiveness is an added selling point. He estimates that the cost of gas used per gaslamp averages about $8 a month.
“It’s very efficient, especially when you consider that it costs about $20 a month for electricity for standard pedestrian street lamps,” he said.