TARNISHED SHERIFF’S STAR. A very special lamppost

This abandoned,
rusty bishops crook lamppost in an empty lot in the Lower East Side is an important one, because not only is it an increasingly rare cast iron remnant…but it signifies a neighborhood that is no longer there.

Years ago, the Lower East Side wasn’t dominated by housing projects like the Baruch, Seward Park, LaGuardia, and Hillman Houses as it is now, but by streets lined with rows and rows of tenement buildings. These were razed in the 1940s and 50s, the streets paved over. The streets bore names like Sherriff, Cannon, Mangin, Goerck, Tompkins, and Scammel.

Except for the occasional street, like Lewis Street, which has been allowed to survive, most trace of these streets has vanished. But not all…

If you walk up East Broadway, then down Grand for a bit, and turn up Columbia (Kazan) Street, about a half block up the street toward the Williamsburg Bridge, you’ll see a service alley leading off to the left. These are the last remains of Broome Street. Then walk up Broome Street a ways, and on your right, a singular bishops crook lamppost will appear. It’s at the northwest intersection of what was once Broome and Sherriff Streets.



Unusual base of the Broome/Sherriff lamppost. This particular lamppost base is found nowhere else in NYC, except for a complete restored post on Warren Street and a truncated post at Charles and West 4th Streets. Note remains of fire alarm at the base of the pole.


This fixture formerly held the orange fire alarm light.


Some detailed views of the apex and base of the Sheriff Bishop.

Bishop Crooks, and other castiron NYC lampposts, are classified by catalog. In 1934, the NYC Bureau Of Gas and Electricity (which like today’s Department of Transportation) was responsible for streetlighting) published The System Electric Companies: Photographs of Street Lighting Equipment As Of November 1, 1934. The pamphlet gave code numbers to every type of streetlight in NYC, identifying 76 types! Of those 76, only 19 have representative samples today.

The Sheriff Bishop is cassified in the pamphlet as Type 6BC. Its slenderer base apparently was used on streets with narrow sidewalks.


This ‘Type 6BC’,
or what’s left of it, leans like the Tower Of Pisa on the corner of West 4th and Charles Street in the Village.


This map, taken from the WPA Guide of New York, was printed in 1939. It shows the streets that were expunged in favor of housing developments in the 40s and 50s. Circled is the intersection where the ancient bishops crook lamp stands. Compare to a modern map! Note Hamilton Fish Park.

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