SURVIVORS. Amazingly these ancient NYC lampposts are still in place

Deadlines, deadlines…we all deal with them and your webmaster is no exception. I have plenty of photos, but not a whole lot of research prepared for today’s Slice. Fortunately, there are always lampposts to talk about; I’ve been fascinated with them since I first left my apartment in the stroller in oh, say 1958, when I was one. Filled tablets with drawings of them. Made my own, with a pencil, plastic ice cream spoon and one of those tiny lightbulbs you find in flashlights.

ForgottenFan Bob Mulero has been similarly obsessed and has taken hundreds of NYC lamppost photos, beginning in 1978 when there were many remaining NYC lamppost genres left over like the duckbilled platypus from a previous eon. Today, I’ll show you some of Bob’s pictures with an emphasis on NYC lamps that somehow have escaped the watchful eye of the Department of Transportation and are still there today…

They once dotted the NYC and Long Island landscape like passenger pigeons darkened the skies. Then, one day, the passenger pigeons were no more; and this“Woody” lamppost, one of a genre that lined all of Robert Moses’ parkways, such as Shore Parkway, Cross Island Parkway, Grand Central Parkway, Bronx River Parkway…this, on one of the service ramps at Flatbush Avenue and Shore Parkway, is the last of its kind in the five boroughs except for one other lonely survivor where Southern Parkway turns north and becomes the Laurelton in far southeast Queens.

This post is only two good crackups from extinction.

[Extinction was its fate. This post is no longer there. –2010] 

Original Brooklyn Bridge post, ca. 1980. During the last couple decades of their tenure they carried “gumball” luminaires; the bridge was one of the gumball’s last strongholds. In the early 1980s the bridge got a makeover, and close replicas of these posts were installed, with stronger mercury lumes.

When the Donald-Deskey designedSLECO posts first showed up in 1963-1964 or so, they were originally paired with Westinghouse “cuplights” that were first spotted in the 1940s. It made for some odd juxtapositions. This combo was frequently seen on the Belt Parkway, crowding out the Woodies, before more conventional straight-mast poles replaced them, too.

As we’ve seen, strange lamps often lurk under overpasses. These two can be found on streets that go under the solid concrete Hell Gate Bridge approach in Astoria, Queens. This simple mast with the curved scrollwork has served many purposes since it first appeared in the 1910s. The masts were once workhorses on side streets, carrying radial-wave luminaires that employed a single incandescent bulb. Later they were pressed into service carrying fire alarm lights (that are now being phased out). In odd places like these, they carried Westy cuplights (right) and their 1930s predecessors (left.) Both of these are still in place though they haven’t lit up in decades.

Lower Broadway and environs can still boast a number of Type 24A “bishop crook” posts. The one at left, on Broadway near Prince Street, remains today, with a 1980s “bucket” luminaire dispensing bright yellow light. The one at right, on Lispenard Street, doesn’t…though a block south, on Walker, you will still find one. Both these shots are from 1978-1980.

The Type 41S first appeared on the Whitestone Bridge and the parkway leading to it. In many ways it was an update of the Woody post and showed up on many parkways and expressways from the mid-1930s into the 1950s; some can still be found, in out-of-the-way locales. The post at left, on a LaGuardia Airport approach lamp, is long gone: but the one on the right, on the ramp to the Welfare (Roosevelt) Island Bridge from Long Island City, remains. It kept its Westy cuplight until the early 2000s.

[The Roosevelt Island Bridge collection of 41S was sacrificed to a bridge renovation by the mid-2000s]


Bob juxtaposed photos from virtually the same spot on Broadway near Exchange Place in 1977 (left) and 2007 (right). Pretty much everything’s the same except for the cars (what’s that one on the left?) and the luminaire on the little Type 1 BC post, designed with the “ladder rest” that was a nod to its predecessors: gaslamps that were accessed by ladder every day at dusk and dawn.

A Peugeot 404 I’m told.

Inexplicably a clutch of original Type 24 Modified “Corvington” posts can still be spotted near South Ferry and on the two streets that border the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel entrance, Greenwich and Washington Streets. The one at left, at South Ferry, disappeared about 20 years ago while the two seen at right still stand on Washington, albeit with updated luminaires.

Both: Washington Street near Morris. Both are still there, as are the special Brooklyn Battery Tunnel posts in the background that themselves go back to the tunnel’s opening date, 1951. There was a proposal to deck over the tunnel entrance and build housing, so these posts may be in danger.

Each of these posts are also still in place on Morris St. and Trinity Place (above left) and Greenwich Street along the tunnel (other two).

I believe landmarking has protected them; otherwise they would have been scrapped decades ago.


Categorized in: Forgotten Slices Street Lamps

Comments are closed.