Fulton Gas Works used to produce the “manufactured natural gas” that lit the Richmond, VA streets and eventually its interiors. In 1816, Baltimore, Maryland became the first city in the USA to have streets lit with manufactured natural gas. This is not the type of natural gas that we commonly know of today that comes out of the ground. The gas was made by converting coal into a gas. One of the major side effects was leaving behind a toxic “tar” that is believed to contain 500 to 3000 different mixtures that can be harmful to humans, animals and plants.
The City of Richmond adopted an ordinance in 1848 that created the Committee on Light, which was tasked for finding suitable methods for the manufacture and distribution of carbureted hydrogen gas from bituminous coal for the purpose of illumination the streets, lanes, and alleys of the city. Operations began on the site in 1851. Located in the heart of the city there was no room for expansion, the Committee recommended the purchase or the current site of Fulton Gas Works in the Fulton neighborhood where there was room to expand. The land was purchased in 1853, construction began immediately, and Fulton Gas Works took over manufactured gas production for the city on October, 1856.*
taken from History Replays Today blog
read more here: http://www.historyreplaystoday.com/2012/03/fulton-gas-works.html