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By now, most Chicagoans know the famous yellow-orange glow of nighttime Chicago will soon be a thing of the past. The iconic haze comes from hundreds of thousands of high-pressure sodium street lamps, which are being replaced with energy-saving LEDs. City leaders boast that the new bulbs will emit a superior, clear white light while using half to three-quarters the energy. What do the new lights look like from the sky? Drone photographer Ryan Koverman of Windy City Drones gave us a look, going up near the intersection of Touhy Avenue and Paulina Street in the Northside neighborhood of Rogers Park. The spot is one of seven pilot locations installed in December 2016.***More: Chicago dials down LED street lamp intensity — and controversy***The intersection provides a perfect vantage to see the difference in the old and the new. Half of the lamps at the intersection — to the north and east — have been replaced with LEDs, while the other half — to the south and west — have not:The LED illuminated street is awash in white light, while the street under the older lamps is the iconic yellow. After a little maneuvering, Koverman positioned his drone looking east down Touhy Avenue, towards nearby Lake Michigan. From this view, it’s easy to see where the LEDs end and the old sodium lamps still emit the familiar orange glow:Koverman sent the drone higher for a view of the surrounding blocks:Here’s another angle:And here’s an overhead shot of one of the new lamps: The city is rolling out new lights block-by-block across the city. You can follow its progress on this map.
Kevin has written for Midwest Energy News since May of 2017. His work has appeared in Pacific Standard, Chicago Reporter, Chicago Reader, and on NPR’s Latino USA, among other outlets.