You and I and Moonlight in … Austin?

Posted on: July 29th, 2010 by Julia Rocchi 2 Comments

Austin's weird, but is it alien-weird? It sure seems that way if you look at the city at night, thanks to 17 historic moonlight towers.

I can hear your question now: What the heck is a moonlight tower? For the answer, let's turn to our trusty tour guide Jason, who shows and tells you the background of these only-in-Austin structures in this video.

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Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi is the director of digital content at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and walks around looking up at buildings.


2 Responses

  1. Michael Holleran

    July 29, 2010

    Moonlight towers (not necessarily by that name) were the original electric streetlights in many American cities (I have a photo of them in Denver). They make sense in the history of technology: the first powerful electric light was the arc light. Think welding arc – hurts your eyes but throws a lot of weird blue light. How to put it to use? Raise it so high that you don’t fry your retina, and let its brightness illuminate four city blocks.

    Austin’s weirdness is not in coming up with moonlight towers, but in keeping them til today. How they got through the 1920s and 30s and 40s I can’t answer. By the 1950s, Austin residents appreciated them as a unique local thing. By the 1980s, as Jason recounts, they were historic infrastructure, and worth an investment to keep them for another century. That’s good weird.

  2. PreservationNation » Blog Archive » Field Trip to Bastrop! Who Wants BBQ?

    August 3, 2010

    […] this video, Jason leaves the bright moonlights behind and day-trips to this historic small town to chat with Susan Wendel (president of the […]