Some of New York’s street fire alarms date back to 1912, which is when this design first appeared. Variations on this theme have been carried down over the years, before more streamlined versions began appearing in the late 1950s. Since the 19-teens, lampposts, stoplights, and various sign stanchions have changed fashion every few years, yet these stalwarts, as well as the fire hydrants also used to douse conflagrations, have remained immutable and unchanging.

In the 1990s, some of them were taken out of service, as youths and pranksters ever more used them for calling in false alarms. And, along with its other lamentable traits, the wireless telephone has made fire alarms more and more redundant.

The New York City public is uncaring about the lengthy history these fancifully designed stanchions represent, and expresses its disdain for that history by repurposing these proud veterans as trash receptacles.


Categorized in: One Shots


  1. Helen says:

    How true – another disruption caused by the move to digitization. I wonder though if the fire-alarm system is more sturdy than the cell phone system – just as the land-line system sometimes works when cell phones don’t. In that case, they should have kept these fire-alarm boxes going..

  2. therealguyfaux says:

    When I was a child, we lived near a Carvel which served the soft ice cream cones, and I always somehow connected the stylized torch atop the fireboxes with Carvel cones, due to their uncanny resemblance. I was so young at the time, I forget which of them I thought looked like the other in the first instance; but I clearly remember the association in my mind– even today, as witness this post!

  3. John P. Simonetti says:

    Given the woeful LACK of trash receptacles on NYC streets, it’s no wonder!

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