THE QUEENSBORO BRIDGE LAMPS

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Paraphrasing the old Donovan hit…first there was a lamppost, then there was no lamppost, then there is…

In 1999 we mourned the (premature) loss of this original Queensboro Bridge light stanchion, at the eastbound entrance at 2nd Avenue and 59th Street. Looks like the egg’s on our faces and the yolk’s on us, because the ever-unpredictable Department of Transportation has restored and replaced the lamp in all its verdigris-ed glory!



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early 1998, now you see it…

Late 1998…now you don’t…

 



As it turns out, the renovations done in the 40s or 50s to this light stanchion were a hasty, slapdash job, as the masts were actually turned upside down and incandescent ‘cuplights’ were grafted incongruously on.

The new  restoration,  installed in 2001, it must be assumed, adheres more closely to the original 1907 Gustav Lindenthal/Henry Hornbostel design, with 4 opaque globular lamps surrounding one mounted on the central shaft.

However, one mystery remained…the post used to have a partner on the north side of the Queensboro which had been missing since the mid-1970s.

As it turns out that lamp, too, has been found. At least, the base has. It resides in the Sunnyside Yards lamppost yard on 43rd Avenue awaiting restoration. The Roosevelt Island Historical Society hopes to restore the base and place it near the tram entrance/exit Visitors Center in the island.

An interesting feature of the Queensboro pole is that on its four-sided base, you can see four of the five NYC boroughs. We’ll give you a wild guess which one they left off!

And, Staten Island was indeed a part of New York City when the bridge was constructed in the early 1900s; NYC consolidation happened in 1898.

Celebrating nearly a century of existence… the pole is older than most New Yorkers. Not the oldest lamppoost in the city (a couple of gaslight posts as well as a couple of 5th Avenue stanchions are older) but quite close.

It should serve Queens-bound bridge crossers for another 93…we can hope.

Sources:

The Bridges of New York, Sharon Reier, 1977; reprinted 2000 Dover Books
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A Historic Lamp is Lost: Fingers Are Pointed Everywhere,
E.E. Lippincott, NYTimes, July 8, 2001

 





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