Since I was hired to work in the Flatiron district in Manhattan in November 2011, I started sniffing around for places to eat lunch before actually beginning work. I will be doing a number of posts from the Flatiron as it has spectacular architecture; although boxy glass towers have now begun to dot the landscape, Beaux Arts is the predominant form especially along 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue, the Ladies’ Mile, just west of that.
While shuffling about avoiding fast-walking Manhattanites (I will have to get used to the pace) I noted that most of the treasured Type 24M Twinlamps on 5th Avenue in the Flatiron had all had work done on them to a degree. Here’s what I took away:
There are five remaining Twins on 5th Avenue: this one, on the SW corner of 19th, two at Madison Square at 23rd, another at 28th, and the last at 32nd. With one exception they are all Type 24Ms.
Both of the Westinghouse cuplights on the 19th Street post had, till just recently, been allowed to remain their original metalic gray and had never been painted at all. In 2011, the whole post including the lamps was repainted black, the color of choice for most original and retro castiron posts these days. When first erected in the 1910s or 1920s the post was painted chocolate brown.
I could do without the Department of Transportation allowing it to dayburn — when the incandescent bulbs burn out, they tend to stay that way for quite awhile.
The 19th Street Twin stands in front of the robust former Arnold Constable Department Store building. The store was founded in 1825, the building went up in 1877, and Constable finally went out of business in 1975.
This newly painted Twin can be found on the traffic island at 5th Avenue and 23rd Street. The original diminutive triangle has been expanded greatly, with traffic reroutings, with Broadway squeezed from 4 lanes to two. This Twin was vouchsafed new bright yellow sodium lights sometime in the 1990s.
A brother across 5th Avenue standing in front of the Henry Hardenbergh Western Union Building came down after a truck murdered it in the mid-2000s.
This Twin stands at the SE corner of Madison Square, in front of the statue of William H. Seward, United States Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. His “Seward’s Folly” in 1867 was the purchase of Alaska which he finally negotiated to acquire from Russia; Alaska became the 49th State on 1/3/59.
The Twin mastarm is the form of the originals installed on 5th Avenue in the late 1890s. Gradually the Type 24M’s mixed in until the ratio was about 50-50 when most were torn down in 1965. However, this original mast was placed on a Bishop Crook Type 1 base at some indeterminable time decades ago, making this post an unusual hybrid.
I can’t discuss 5th Avenue street fixtures without a mention of the 5th Avenue Building Clock, just north of 23rd. The clock was installed in 1909 and was restored by Tiffany & Co. when the firm relocated here. The clock has been a NYC Landmark since 1981.
Lastly this post at 5th and 32nd Street has gotten a new paint job and light bulbs, but the rehab job ended there, seemingly unfinished. This is the only Twin in NYC that has both 1940s Cuplight and 1930s Bell lamps.
As you can see it’s listing over at a more severe angle than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Another hurricane like we got in September  , and… and …
There’s also the glass diffuser question. The Bell’s diffuser is dirt-encrusted, while the Cup hasn’t had one for years.
This is the first time I’ve ever seen a new energy-saving corkscrew bulb in a NYC lamppost. This should at least have the dignity of a glass reflector bowl to cover it up. And why the dayburn?
I’m just glad to have these posts, but half-assery in their upkeep is not cool.