UNION TURNPIKE LAMP SURVIVOR

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Octagonal-shafted lampposts didn’t appear on NYC streets until 1950. They are now the predominant, go-to lampposts of NYC and have supported a flock of different luminaires over the years. They have withstood all challengers to their prominence, from the Donald Deskey slot-shafted posts that appeared in the 1960s to the L-shaped Downtown Alliance posts that now dominate downtown Broadway as well as Queens Plaza.

From 1950 to 1960, only one luminaire was ever used on an “octa-pole”: the Westinghouse teardrop AK-10, commonly called the cuplight. The “octa-pole” did not immediately wipe out the legions of Corvingtons, bishop crooks and other varieties of cast-iron posts all at once– they coexisted with them for about ten years, since the Westy AK-10 used an incandescent bulb, just as the old cast-irons did. The rise of the greenish-white mercury luminaire — housed in the OV25 Westinghouse Silverliner and the GE M400 — hastened the demise of the castiron and the rise of the octa-pole.

In 1998, I found one lone octagonal pole still possessing its old “cuplight” ┬áin a parking lot on Union Turnpike just east of the Van Wyck Expressway, but even this wasn’t the last one. The Central Park 65th Street Transverse Road still had a pair until 2011, and the lower deck of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is the last AK-10 stronghold remaining in NYC. There are a lot of them left in Nassau County, too.

Soon after I shot the photo, this AK-10 was replaced with a modern lamp.

12/26/12





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