Two hundred years ago, the country's first gas street lamp was lit in Baltimore, Maryland. The company responsible for illuminating the city – now known as Baltimore Gas and Electric – is celebrating its bicentennial by giving back to its hometown.
A History Lesson
On June 17, 1816, the Gaslight Company of Baltimore – the nation's first natural gas company – was born. Shortly after, the first gas streetlight was installed on the corner of Holliday and Baltimore streets where it still shines today. According to the company's 200th anniversary book, Baltimore was the third largest city in the nation at that time, and the addition of illuminated streets provided new opportunities for residents and the company alike.
Fun fact: Did you know Baltimore also had the first railroad company and first post office system in the country?
The business re-branded to Baltimore Gas and Electric in 1955 and adopted the BGE acronym in the 1990's. Today, the company is known as the state's largest gas and electric utility, with more than 1.25 million customers and 3,200 employees. With its corporate headquarters still in Baltimore, the company plans to give back to its customers and the surrounding community throughout the year.
Illuminate the Area
BGE kicked off its anniversary activities by once again lighting up Baltimore for all to see. The company was the lead sponsor for Light City, the first large-scale international light festival in the country. The energy provider will make Maryland shine again for Independence Day next week, with a variety of holiday celebrations planned throughout the area.
"BGE is sponsoring 4th of July parades or fireworks in almost every county that we serve," said Aaron Koos, senior communications manager. Visit BGE's website to find the closest celebration to your community.
Giving Back to Baltimore
The most noticeable community project is the newly painted storage tanks located in South Baltimore. When completed, the murals located at BGE's Spring Garden's facility will feature nine horses, nine crabs, and three flags, visible from all angles of Interstates 95 and 395.
"We talked about the project for a couple of yearsbut with the 200th anniversary happening we thought it was a really great time to bring the idea back to life," said Matthew Buecker, marketing programs manager at BGE.
"The images are really synonymous with Maryland. It's easily recognizable and something you can glance at while driving down I-95," said Buecker. "We want everyone who sees them to instantly think of Maryland."
BGE hopes the designs will encourage artwork around the city and Maryland alike. In fact, the provider has already partnered with a non-profit to install 100 additional art mosaics throughout central Maryland.
"We're all proud to live and work here. Our 200th celebration is a great opportunity for us to show our support for the community and show that we're proud of our heritage," said Buecker.
Over in West Baltimore, BGE has partnered with The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation to create the Eddie Murray Field at BGE Park. The development will be home to James Mosher Baseball, the country's oldest-operating African American youth baseball league. The groundbreaking is scheduled to take place by this year, with hopes to get the field up and running by spring 2017just in time for baseball's opening day.
In addition to the mosaic installations and park, the company is planning a third legacy gift to revitalize the area targeted towards education. Details have yet to be announced.
To learn more about BGE's 200th anniversary celebration, visit 200bge.com.