These ‘newfangled’ fire alarm stanchions are among the newest in a series of such posts that go back all the way to 1887. Incredibly, a number of models that go back all the way to 1912 can still be seen on NYC streets, and many fire alarms going back to the Roaring Twenties, recognizable by torch elements that look like ice cream cones can be found. Boxier, more streamlined numbers showed up starting in 1957, and these shiny steel posts go back to 1973. The city didn’t get far with installing them, and they’re still few and far between.
Fire alarms like this have been the targets of vandals and pranksters calling in false alarms for many years, and they’re starting to be phased out in the era of the wireless telephone.