FRANKEN-LIGHTS. Sunnyside lamppost experiments

There seems to be some strange stuff, lamppost and luminaire-wise, increasingly happening in Sunnyside, Queens. While NYC’s streets until mid-2009 were a glorious mish mosh of lighting styles, from the green-white mercury bulbs of the 1960s GE M400 and Westinghouse OV25 “Silverliners”on up to the brilliant yellow sodium lamps first seen in the 1970s and in command until the 2000s.

That all changed in mid-2009 when NYC outfitted nearly all its lamps (excepting retro styles like Bishop Croks, Twinlamps, et al.) with updates of the GE M400, which also shone brilliant yellow.

However, in Sunnyside, Queens, with the presence of the Department of Transportation’s lamppost storage yard, the DOT has apparently been taking new styles out for a spin to see if they stick. And the results seem quite strange indeed.

The davit-style post, with its curved upper mast, is slowly gaining traction in NYC streets, popping up in SoHo, the West Village, and Cobble Hill in Brooklyn. A couple of them have appeared on 43rd Street near Skillman Avenue, outfitted with the “Stad” luminaires first een on the Triborough (RFK) Bridge.

This one also has a fire alarm light attachment.


A flock of luminaires that eschew the traditional glass diffuser bowl, known as “cutoff” lamps, can be seen along 47th Avenue from 33rd-35th Streets.

This type is so new it’s not yet in the DOT catalog. The lamps burn bright white and apparently don’t need much reflection to adequately light.


Their “scoop” or “wedge” shape reminds me of similar 1960s models. This one on 40th Avenue around the corner from me was replaced in the 2009 GE M400 purge.


A black Stad has found its way onto one of the cobra-necks on 34th Street, making for a strange sight.

A few of the newbies, including a couple of odd lengthened models, as well as a new “Helm” light on a guy-wired WM pole, have popped up on Queens Boulevard.


This LED lamp on 43rd Avenue and 34th Street has a “top hat” fire alarm lamp affixed.


Even the retro Bishop Crooks on Skillman Avenue have had new luminaires attached to the Bell fixtures, an odd mix of 1930s and 2010s styling.

Will some of these Franken-lamp experiments come to a street near you?





Categorized in: Forgotten Slices Street Lamps Tagged with:

14 Responses to FRANKEN-LIGHTS. Sunnyside lamppost experiments

  1. Dan says:

    During the 2009-2010 changeover wattages were ‘downgraded’. Streets with 250 watt sodiums received 150 watt sodiums. Streets with 150 watt sodiums recieved 100 watt sodiums.

  2. Ralph Herman says:

    These LED cutoffs now are common across the USA, NYCDOT will save a ton of money on their energy bill from the NYS Power Authority. Also less maintenance and light glare for drivers and pedestrians.

  3. Glen Norman says:

    The photo immediately above the old “scoop/wedge” is a Leotek LED fixture. There are tens of thousands of these in the city of LA now. Wish they had gone with something more like the faux cobrahead you’re showing at 43rd Avenue and 34th Street.

  4. John Murtha says:

    These Davit Pole’s are certainly not N.Y.C. Style these type of poles have been upstate NY for many years and across the country and in Europe.

  5. Sandy Saltzman says:

    The DOT engineering headquarters for street and traffic lights is located at Queens blvd. and 35th street , so it is natural that the surrounding area would be used for testing prototypes. An article in the Post from Nov. 2006,mentions that the Power Optec Electric Co. had been awarded a 15.3 million dollar contract to replace all the street light fixtures in Brooklyn and Queens. It was around the DOT building that I first saw the Cooper Lighting fixtures that would come to dominate the streets of New York. In the spring of 2007,I saw the contractor installing these new fixtures on the Honeywell street bridge,which appears also to be a test site for new equipment. In the past few weeks,all of these six year old fixtures have been replaced by LED fixtures,mostly 105 watt and some 65 watt. It appears that the days of the high pressure sodium street light in NYC are numbered. I wonder if they’ll finally get that GE M400 mercury fixture at Astoria Blvd North and 33rd street?

    • Kevin Walsh says:

      I just don’t think the white lights are sufficiently bright to dissuade crime. Stick with the sodes.

  6. Louis Sessa says:

    Placing the cobrahead-like LED fixtures on existing poles is OK with me, but I don’t much care for the Helm or the Stad fixtures, and especially the Davit poles. City of Baltimore (in some locations I have seen from a window of an Amtrak train) are just placing LED fixtures on existing poles, some of which must be 70 years old.

    Yes, it seems that LEDs do not illuminate the sidewalks as well because there is no “spillage” of light to areas other than the roadway.

  7. Ryan says:

    I heard that LIC was a testing ground for the NYCDOT to try out its streetlights, so maybe that’s why these streetlamps exist.

  8. Timothy says:

    Some of these standards made their appearance @2009 on the western part of Central Avenue in Albany (e.g., around Everett Road). They seem to fit there very well, despite their limited illumination.

  9. Eric says:

    I didn’t know they were testing these different LED heads already. The only one I had known about was the one on Murray St. (the first LED model proposed when the news covered it years ago; where the whole horizontal piece is the fixture).

  10. Thomas says:

    A few points- the DOT’s mass purge of streetlights 5-6 years ago resulted in almost everything being replaced with Cooper OVH miniature cobraheads, not GE M-400 standard sized cobraheads. If the city ordered M-400s (or the similar looking Cooper OVD) and got OVHs instead, then there was massive municipal fraud incurred – enough to pay for the replacements to LED. Hopefully the new LED fixtures that the city will put up resemble the GE M-400 LED fixtures like those pictured on 34th Street in Queens. I’m sure that those LED Bell lights will be used to replace the non-cobraheads. And as far as the experimental lights on Queens Blvd, the long fixtures are LED, and the weird shaped non-LED fixture has already made its way to Atlantic Avenue next to the Barclay’s Center.

  11. Eric B says:

    What is the model of the “similar 1960s model…on 40th Avenue”? (the one without the glass) I always assumed those were the GE 400’s, stripped down of their outer covers, but now can’t find any information on that one.

    Another one I can’t find info in, is the one with the bare round sillver tips consisting of an uncovered reflector? I always assumed those were Westinghouses stripped down to the bone, I guess because the piece that connects to the pole looked like the start of an OV
    Also, you elsewhere have a “non-diffused” Westinghouse. Does that have a separate model number, or it is still an OV25 variation?

    Also, what were the other smaller sodium fixtures the side streets got in the mid 70’s? Avenues generally got either the big ITT’s or American Electric (not sure which, or maybe both?). I know some of the side streets got GE M250R2’s, but there was another one, about the same size and color, that looked like an “updated” Westinghouse, or a mini ITT. (Not the 1979 OV25 you mention, as these appeared in ’74-5 and didn’t look like that. It had a solid ballast area like the old OV25, and the rim that came down to hold the globe, like that or the ITT [and unlike the totally flat GE], but was flatter than the ITT). These all seemed to be replaced at some point, and now I see Cooper OVH’s.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.