I love this illustration! It’s original caption read “The Unrestrained Demon!” And it is a telling depiction of the way the public viewed the idea of the burgeoning use of that frightening invention—electricity and its infiltration into the “modern” lives of urbanites during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
As with ALL changes to the ways we live, the idea of electricity, especially in situations where exposed wires hung precariously about, was frightening and to say it had its “critics” is an understatement. The illustration first appeared on the cover of Judge magazine in October of 1889. When I was researching it, I came across a brief Reddit discussion that is priceless. I include it below. 💡⚡️💀
I first saw the illustration on a PBS documentary (streaming now on Netflix) called “American Experiance: A Race Underground”, which tells the story of the patented “Sprague electric motor” and how it changed the face of public streetcar transportation in Boston, Massachusetts and then the world.
“Frank Sprague, largely forgotten today, invented the first and best electric railway motor (According to his former boss, Thomas Eddison, it was the “best motor” out there. Eddison later bought the patent from Sprague and had “Eddison” replace “Sprague” on the parts themselves). It was the invention and successful use of Sprague’s motor in Boston that ‘made people rethink how their city could look and function…and the profits were soon rolling in for the West End Street Railway Company. In just five years more than 80% of the system was electrified and overhead, wires lined the city streets…’”
—American Experiance: A Race Underground (PBS)
Ducktor_Beak• May 19, 2018, 7:44 AM
Is this electricity? Did someone dislike lightbulbs? What is being pro/demoted here?