The History of the Gaslights in Olmos Park

“  The gaslight era has returned to Olmos Park—but there’s no need for the old lamplighter to come back…Olmos Park citizens are reverting to a bygone day with the installation of 60 gaslights for street illumination. 

The new lamps are gaining favor in the east, where they’re considered a mark of super status by class-conscious suburbanites.”

                                                                        --San Antonio Light, 1960

 “In 1960, Olmos Park installed 60 gaslights at a cost of $175 per light with a monthly operating cost of 75 cents a light.  By 2011, the monthly cost had risen to $25 per light per month.  So Olmos Park, using federal stimulus funds from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, began converting old gaslight into energy efficient solar lights.

Because solar panels require unobstructed access to sunlight, the challenge was to find solar lights that also incorporated the cap and final design of the existing gaslights.  Enter blacksmith and artisan, Kurt Pankratz.  Mr. Pankratz, who once crafted new gate hinges on the Alamo so meticulously close to the original they required a mark on them to distinguish them from antiques, accepted the challenge.  He designed and hand crafted the lights with a slightly raised cap, allowing enough exposure to sunlight to power the cells while retaining the beauty and ambiance of the original gaslights.  To appreciate the aesthetic quality and innovative design of the new lights, just stroll around Alameda Circle or look for sunny corners throughout Olmos Park.

By, 2012, Olmos Park had installed 11 environmentally friendly solar lights operating at zero cost to the city.  In addition, the city refurbished all remaining gas lights (plus a few spares if needed) to bring back the charm of bygone days.”

Thanks to Gayle Girdley, Susan Gragg, and Melissa Phillps for contributing to this article.  Thanks also to the Lighting Committee comprised of Gayle Girdley, Ernie Locker, and Sandy Ryan for there work which made the new solar lights a reality.


Olmos Park City Hall, 120 W. El Prado, San Antonio, Texas 78212 Phone:210-824-3281