When humans first populated the earth, the largest influence on their lives was the sun. It determined when they woke and when the slept, when they hunted and when they hid. Even after the discovery of fire, the physical toll of maintaining an open flame limited its functionality as a light source. Even tallow candles, popular in the 14th century, were so expensive that only the most affluent members of society could enjoy more than a few minutes of light per day.
Up to the 19th century it was still prohibitively expensive for the majority of people. In 1816 Baltimore became the first city in America to light its streets with gas distributed through a system of pipelines. This technology proved so beneficial that it was found in almost every city by 1850. And just like that, we owned the night.
This is part one of a three-part series covering how we can control light to improve our lives. In the first part we will cover lighting design, and how it impacts our ability to enjoy and use our space.