Evanston aldermen tonight are scheduled to approve a $146,000 contract to have an engineering firm develop a new street light master plan for the city.

City staff is recommending that the contract be awarded to Christopher Burke Engineering, Ltd. of Rosemont.

In a memo to aldermen, Public Works Director Dave Stoneback says the city’s current street light plan was developed in 1979 and that with changes in technology and industry standards it needs to be reevaluated.

Stoneback says the new plan is meant to meet future street lighting needs “in a manner that reflects the community’s values as well as the context of the surrounding built and natural environments.”

It’s suppposed to provide options “for street and pedestrian light poles, fixture styles, spacing, lighting technology and control, and appropriate lighting levels for various locations.”

Many residents have expressed strong preference for the city’s traditional street lights — designed a century ago by local architect Thomas Tallmadge. But others complain that they do a poor job of lighting the streets.

Different locations in town also use a variety of other fixtures, including numerous highway-style mast arm lights.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Street Lights
    Ever since the city put in LED lamps, the amount of light pouring into residential homes from street lamps in our Northeast Evanston neighborhood is completely unacceptable. They need to tone down the brightness dramatically. It is disrupting sleep and wildlife in the area. Like being in artificial sunlight all night.

    1. I couldn’t agree more
      Agree with everything you have said. Lighting is now obnoxiously bright, too much of it and horrible hue.

    2. Are the street lights even on ? Hard to tell.

      When I get off the 201 in north Evanston, I have to adjust my eyes to see if the street lights actually came on—it is so dark.  When I bike or walk home and have slowly adjusted to the lighting, I always know it will be so dark on even Central and Lincoln that without a bike light I could not see much—certainly cars could not see bikers or pedestrians crossing the street.

      A number of times I’ve see lights out from Chicago Ave to Ridge from Foster to Lincoln or Central and the Canal to Noyes and Greenbay and asked people [including police] if they noticed there werre no lights—they did not.  Before 311 I’d called the police [after 6PM] and told them of large area out for two days—they said I was the first to call—peoplle just expect Evanston to look like the jungle.

  2. The Lights On Lake Street

    Has anyone ever noticed the obnoxious street lights on Lake St. between Ashland and Dodge? They are the same street lights that are found on an expressway; however the wattage that the bulbs put out could possibly be brighter (no joke). As a longtime resident of Lake Street I have often wondered to myself how one would go about having them changed to something more appropriate for a residential neighborhood in Evanston. Maybe this is a chance for such a change? If you live in the area and feel the same way, please contact our alderman Peter Braithwaite to express your opinion.

    Bill is there anything else an Evanston Resident can do besides contacting their alderman to affect some sort of change? Even a lower wattage bulb similar to regular Evanston Street lights would be acceptable if money is an issue, better yet a “Classic Evanston Street light” would be even better. Maybe with the City’s new master plan, this could be our chance?

    1. Robust

      Hi Joseph,

      The staff memo says the master plan project is supposed to include “coordination with the public and stakeholders through a robust community engagement plan.”

      So look for upcoming public meetings on the subject.

      — Bill

  3. New streetlights plan and Complete Streets

    Hopefully, this plan will be conducted under the principles of “Complete Streets” — streets (and sidewalks) for everyone and for ALL modes of transportation.  Evanston now has a Complete Streets ordinance but we are not yet skilled in implementing this new way of thinking.  The streetlight plan might be a good “pilot project” to see how a Complete Streets process works.

  4. Lights

    I’m wondering if the city might consider some lights that actually……produce light?I’m all for avoiding light pollution but navigating Evanston after dark just isn’t safe for pedestrians or drivers.

    1. How is that possible?

      That may have been the case in the past (which I actually loved, and other suburbs like Wilmette and Winnetka, still have) but these new LED lights light up the night too brightly. Did they not change the bulbs to LED where you live? Are you sure this is still the case?

  5. Wait, what?

    Wait, is the city proposing we get rid of our iconic Tallmadge lights? These are a huge part of our identity and one of the many things that give character to this city that the council (or is it staff?) is trying to take away from us. What gives? Who are these people on staff and do they “get” Evanston at all as they are scrubbing away all of our charm. Why do we need to spend money on this? And, with the new LED lights, there is no way any one can argue these are giving off too little light. They are obnoxiously bright. My house at night is fully lit up from these. Walking down the street feels like a you are walking around at fully-lit mall parking lot…

    1. Tallmadge lights

      Hi Karen,

      The city is not proposing getting rid of the Tallmadge lights.

      The study is supposed to evaluate all the existing lights and consider alternatives.

      Be sure to turn out for the public meetings, whenever they’re scheduled, to express your preferences.

      — Bill

        1. Hi MIJ,

          Hi MIJ,

          Last December City Council approved a small-scale test of a fiberglass near-replica of the Tallmadge lights on Seward Street.

          I don’t know whether those have been installed yet.

          New LED mast arm lights were installed as part of the Emerson/Ridge/Green Bay project last year.

          And there’s a plan to switch to a lower color temperature light for new fixtures as part of the Fountain Square project now underway.

          But there hasn’t been a comprehensive look at the street lighting system.

          — Bill

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