When filmmaker Ian Cheney moved to the Big Apple from rural Maine, he says he felt like he had "left something important behind." Cheney's new movie The City Dark is an attempt to answer this question: "What do we lose when we lose the night?"
The documentary tracks Cheney's quest, which takes him to the College Of Staten Island, where Professor Irving Robbins shares what it has been like for his Astronomy Department to gradually lose the night sky. "Since 1966 while living in Brooklyn, I've only seen the milky way twice — both times from a blackout," says Robbins. "I could not believe the heavens."
Next Cheney visits the owner of a lightbulb store in Hackensack, New Jersey. His grandfather knew Thomas Edison and he shares a crash course on the incredible evolution of lightbulbs from Edison's original 50 lumen bulb in 1879 to mercury-vapor lights, high-pressure sodium lights and finally today's metal halides, which produce 15,000 to 16,000 lumens.