Contact Us
Make My Homepage

First Christmas Lights Were In New Jersey [PHOTOS]

Christmas Light strand
NOT the first Christmas light strands. But in N.J. (Craig Allen photo)

Thomas Alva Edison was called “The Wizard Of Menlo Park.”  And, the prolific inventor certainly wasn’t afraid to enhance his reputation through attention-getting stunts!

Edison created the incandescent light bulb in 1879.  During the Christmas season of 1880, he assembled the first strand of Christmas lights.  Edison promptly hung strings of the electric lights outside of his laboratory at 37 Christie Street in Menlo Park, New Jersey.  A railroad line passed nearby, and commuters would marvel at his festive display, each night!

This 1880 “stunt” is credited as the first official outdoor Christmas lights display, separate from decorating a Christmas tree.

The first use of Christmas lights indoors, on a Christmas tree, is credited to Edward H. Johnson in 1882.  Johnson was an Edison friend, and president of the company Thomas Edison had formed to light New York City.

Mr. Johnson hand-wired 80 red, white and blue lights, and wound them around his tree.  And, his electrified tree rotated!  It was a sensation in New York City, and made news across the nation, through published reports.

However, it would be many years before electric lights would become a tradition across the United States.  A string of Christmas lights, and the services of an electrician to install them, could only be afforded by the wealthy.

“Experts” say that until 1903, when General Electric started making pre-assembled Christmas light sets, lighting the average tree would have cost more than $2,000 in today’s money!  For this reason, candles remained popular on Christmas trees, despite the obvious fire risk, until the 1920’s and 1930’s.

Today’s boxed Christmas lights. It all started in Menlo Park! (Craig Allen photo)

Learn more about the “Wizard Of Menlo Park!”  Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park lab is operated as a museum, Thursday thru Saturday. For more information, click here!

lighted deer
(More) modern Christmas lights…that all of New Jersey can relate to… (Craig Allen photo)

Best of NJ101.5

Recommended For You

Best of the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to using your original account information.

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for New Jersey Insiders quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!

Sign up to have exclusive New Jersey Insiders contests, events, coupons, presales, and much more delivered to you for FREE.