In 1894, Austin bought moonlight in the form of towers. Nowadays, these monolithic lamps are super impractical, but in 1895 they were a revelation. Moonlight towers, also referred to as moon towers, liberated citizens from the constraints of nighttime and heralded Austin as “The Coming Great Manufacturer of the South.”
Many speculated these lights would eliminate the need for police entirely. The carbon-arc bulbs were so bright, in fact, that locals worried about potential crop overgrowth and wore umbrellas at night to protect their skin.
The moonlight towers did not eliminate crime, nor did they cause vegetable hysteria. What they did was stir up a frothing pot of controversy. A small list of fatalities accumulated, as workers and ambitious young men climbed up and fell to the ground.