Zilker Christmas Tree-Moonlight Tower in Austin, Texas.jpg
The Zilker Park Christmas Tree has a historic beginning. In the Austin of the 1890's many areas were underdeveloped, hilly, and unpaved. This presented a problem when it came to lighting the streets. In place of normal street lights the City of Austin opted for 31 towers to provide artificial light to the rapidly growing city. Such light towers were already a common form of lighting in many U.S. cities in the late 19th century. The Austin light towers, erected in 1894-1895 by the Fort Wayne Electric Company of Indiana, were approximately 165 feet tall, weighed about 5,000 pounds and used a series of guy wires to keep them vertical. Over the years many of the original 31 towers were lost to construction, errant vehicles and other unfortunate circumstances. Today just 17 of the towers remain standing in Austin. These 17 towers are the last surviving examples of the once popular tower lighting system commonly used throughout the country. They are now designated as official state archeological landmarks and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.