With his move from Menlo Park, New Jersey, to New York City at the end of March 1881, Edison shifted his focus from research and development to the commercialization of his electric lighting system. 

The New York Edison Illuminating Co. built Edisons first commercial electric lighting system at the center of one of the world's great capital markets—New York's financial district. The boundaries of the distribution system encompassed banks, brokerage houses, offices, and newspaper publishers. Edison was interested in marketing his newly invented system, and by launching it in an area that encompassed the newspapers and financial communities, he was assured exposure and sources of investment. 

Standard studies of this period emphasize the inauguration of the commercial electric utility industry at the Pearl Street central station. Edison and his associates, however, audaciously operated on a global scale, not just focusing on the major cities of North America and Europe but reaching simultaneously from Appleton, Wisconsin, to Australia, through the Indian subcontinent and East Asia, to Central and South America. 

Electrifying New York and Beyond chronicles Edison's central role in the enormous effort to manufacture, market, and install electric lighting systems both in the United States and abroad.