The Berlin Senate's street lighting plan

The Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment published its street lighting plan (Lichtkonzept) in 2011. This plan is the first work to offer a comprehensive overview of Berlin's lighting situation and its does so excellently. Moreover, the plan establishes fundamental requirements for Berlin's future street lighting system. The authors develop these requirements by taking into account ecological, medical, energy saving and economical issues.

The Senate's street lighting plan foresees the dismantling of Berlin's gas street lighting in two main steps. First, already begun in summer 2012, all approx. 8,400 in-line lamps will be demolished. They will be replaced by electric street lights. Second, beginning in 2014, all approx. 30,000 top-piece lamps will be converted to electric lights.

We contend that this Lichtkonzept, a pioniering piece of work, still requires further discussion and development; especially concerning Berlin's historic gaslight. Currently, the Senate's street lighting plan entails the near-total elimination of gas street lighting by 2020. To us, this means the loss of a form of lighting which is very pleasant and familiar, especially, on residential streets.

Moreover, the Senate's plan will lead to the loss of what we and, indeed, other city administrations deem significant cultural heritage. A number of cities, for example Dresden, have declared their gas street lighting a historic monument. The Berlin state conservation of authority has placed 3,200 gas lamps (out of a total of 37,000 still existing) including the gas power under preservation order. Traditional gas street lighting will merely be preserved at a few places of historic and tourist interest.

Demolition of gas street lamps

Since the summer of 2012 the first step to dismantle Berlin's gas street lamps has been implemented. A large part of the in-line lamps has been replaced by the electric lamp type 'Jessica'.

View the annual report of gas lamp demolition in 2013


photo: Bertold Kujath

No sign of the promised conversion: this gas lamp was sawn up on the spot and subsequently scrapped.

Gaslaternenabriss schreitet trotz Proteste voran

photo: Bertold Kujath

Gas lamp demolition progresses in Charlottenburg despite the protests of residents and of the District.

Electricity vs. gas

Vergleich von Elektrolaternen und Gasllaternen

photo: Bertold Kujath

The new electric and the historic gas street light differ greatly in terms of colour.

Electric lights contain a considerable amount of mercury. Moreover, they are detrimental to insects.

The progress of demolition in 2013

Aktueller Abriss in Berlin-Dahlem im März 2014

photo: Friedrich von Laer

We are sad to announce: More than 3,000 gas street lamps have been demolished in 2013!

As part of the Senate's planned dismantling, 3,000 in-line lights (IL) have been demolished. Additionally, 62 gaslights (33 IL and 10 suspended lights (SL)) have been removed for miscellaneous reasons , e.g. restoration of gas lines, creation of pedestrian crossings, road reconstruction, etc...

The 2013 demolition work took place mainly in Berlin's northern districts, which so far had been spared. Almost all in-line lamps were demolished in the districts of Spandau (532 IL) and Reinickendorf (1.031 IL, 9 top-piece lights (TL) and 1 SL). In Reinickendorf the dismantling primarily took place in the areas Frohnau, Hermsdorf and Waidmannslust. There, the demolition tore apart what was formerly the world's largest compact gas lit area. This has been now split up into over 40 now separate parts!

Also Berlin's north, the southern and western districts of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf (659 IL, 9 TL), Steglitz-Zehlendorf (452 IL) and Neukölln (323 IL) have lost a lot of gas lamps.

In contrast, the districts Mitte, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Tempelhof-Schöneberg and Neukölln as well as Berlin's eastern districts have hardly been touched (yet) by demolition works (total loss: 45 IL, 1 TL, 9 SL).

At the beginning of 2014 only 3,585 in-line lights remained in Berlin. The total number of Berlin's gas street lamps had fallen to 39,000.

photo: Friedrich von Laer

Update: The Senate's planned dismantling of in-line lamps continues in the areas Wittenau-/ Reinickendorf, Grunewald-/ Schmargendorf, Lichterfelde and Dahlem. By the end of March 2014 already 400 in-line lights have been sawn up. According to the Senate's plan only 229 of the original 8,400 in-line lights will remain. This amounts to less than 3%.

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