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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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"WHITE WAY." In 1912 the term "White Way" in Amerian municipalities meant street or boulevard lighting. The Municipal Affairs Committee of the DUBUQUE INDUSTRIAL CORPORATION and the Dubuque Retail Merchants Association supported the project for Dubuque.

Dubuque was not at the forefront of the movement. Prior to Dubuque's consideration of street lighting, cities in Iowa with systems in place included Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Manchester, Waterloo, Independence, Oskaloosa, Fort Dodge, Chariton and Harlan.

The Industrial Corporation stated that the usual arrangement called for the city to enter into a contract by which the city would take over the maintenance of the system after two years with the contracting company turning over all titles to the equipment. In cities where the city council had the authority to establish street lighting by statute, the council could enter into a long term contract with a commercial club or volunteer organization. The club or organization would enter into a contract to purchase a set amount of gas or electricity from a lighting company for a given street. The cost of installing the lighting was estimated to be about $1.00 per foot. A retailer with a twenty-five foot frontage would then expect to pay about $25.00 for street lighting.

In 1913 the question of establishing street lighting was taken to the residents of Main and Clay streets. The establishment of a system did not depend upon the acceptance of every owner or renter along both streets. If anyone refused to participate, the front of his property would be skipped and installation resumed with his/her assistance. As an article in the Telegraph Herald stated, however, "needless to say, black spots will not stamp the personalities behind them as boosters or as citizens who take an intelligent and far-seeing view of the possibilities of a Greater Dubuque."

The Municipal Affairs Committee at the time the issue was taken to business owners did not take any type of standard or kind of illumination. Proposals were accepted from different lighting companies. A plan for the equipment and kind of illumination was to be worked out and presented to the City Engineer for approval. This was to be followed by the City Council passing an ordinance covering the system and establishing uniformity for lighting throughout the city.


"Boulevard Lights Strongly Favored," Telegraph Herald, March 3, 1912