Thursday, December 9, 2010

9 December 1916: "A Brilliant Finale" to America's Electrical Week

On this day in 1916, Athens Railway & Electric Company, located at the corner of College and Hancock Avenues, advertised the last day of demonstrations and programs for America's Electrical Week:

America's Electrical Week was an outreach campaign by the Society for Electrical Development, a trade industry organization formed in 1912 to "establish co-operative relations among the different electrical interests in the United States." The celebration week was intended to show "what electricity has accomplished abroad and in the United States since the European war began," with a goal to "electrify the entire country with special illuminations, parades, and pagentry." 

As part of the 1916 promotion, a poster contest was held during the summer. Of the 800 designs submitted, 125 were chosen as finalists for a traveling exhibition to allow the public to vote for the poster to use in the campaign. The winning logo was part of many window displays around the nation, and is in the upper corners of this ad, showing a genie summoned not from an oil lamp but with an electric light button. The Banner explained the theme as "Aladdin's lamp accomplished wonderful things, but the electric button does everything the lamp did and much more. Instead of the genie serving one person, the up-to-date genie, electricity, serves everybody everywhere."

The official celebration started in New York on December 2nd, with President Woodrow Wilson pushing the button to "bathe" the Statue of Liberty in electricity-powered light, stating, "I light this statue as a symbol of our purpose to throw upon our life as a nation the light which shall reveal its dignity, serene power, benignant hope, and its spirit of guidance."

All week in Athens, the Banner ran front page stories about the crowds that gathered to see the demonstrations of various electrical products for the home at the Athens Railway & Electric Company, noting that "most of the ladies were especially interested in the vacuum cleaner." The store also offered special sale items, and served "delicious luncheons from the elegant electric kitchen."

Other local retailers of electric appliances also had sales during the week:  Talmadge Hardware Company offered two electric stoves for sale at $18.50 each, and these ads were run by Athens Engineering Company throughout the week:

At the end of America's Electrical Week, the Banner declared the enterprise "a great success" because "interest has been aroused in the intelligent selection of the various forms of appliances which will lessen drudgery, advance cleanliness in the home, make the dark places lighter and the light places even brighter."

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