I once heard the 110 and 220 Volts were derived from arc lights - supposedly the minimum voltage for arc lights is 55V, and they wired 2 or 4 of them in series to reduce voltage drop.
Yep, Texas Ranger
you are correct.
The 110 and 220 Volts were derived from the 55 volts arc lamps in series.
To reduce the current from 2 or 4 lamps in parallel the series option was chosen and still remained within the limits of the available insulation materials for cables of those days.
Streetlighting was sometimes done on higher voltages as quoted in the article but mostly supplied via catenary wires which were strung on insulators hence a higher voltage was used.
Also the carbon filament, wolfram or early ediswan lamps didn't like the higher than 110 volts voltages and tended to burn out to fast.
Putting everything underground, great ! , but costs are high.
Even now these days overhead is more cost effective in rural area's anyway and is not subjected to damage by ground movement or directional drilling.