LIGHT EMITTING DIODE lamps in Central Park

All along East Drive in Central Park, the Department of Transportation has installed light emitting diode, or LED, luminaires.


I read that the plan calls for LEDs, which shine a bright white light, to be installed on every NYC lamppost over the next few years (despite the fact that the city replaced all NYC lamppost luminaires in 2009, five years ago as of this writing). LEDs are supposed to emit a greater coverage of light at lesser cost. How landmarked bishop crooks will be handled remains to be seen, though there are some experimental models on Skillman Avenue in Woodside, Queens.

I haven’t seen them in action at night yet (I rarely rove around at night since my camera is limited then) so I can’t vouch for the quality of light as opposed to the bright yellow sodium lamps in use since 1968, when they began to dominate NYC streets (it took till 2009 to scour out all the remaining greenish-white mercury lights that took over from incandescent bulbs in 1960.

Esthetically speaking, the lack of a reflector bowl makes these the least anthropomorphic (having the least “personality”) of any NYC luminaire in use to date. I also don’t see how the lack of a reflector bowl provides more coverage, though I’ll have to see them at night before making a final judgment.


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8 Responses to LIGHT EMITTING DIODE lamps in Central Park

  1. Julian says:

    Here’s the 2012 press release from the DOT web site:

  2. Glen Norman says:

    Kevin: This is a Cree LED head. There are now thousands of these lining the arterials in Los Angeles. Although the LA Bureau of Streetlights started its LED replacement project about 5 years ago, it’s only in the past couple of years that the LABSL started using Cree. Interestingly, the BSL studiously avoids using Cree at intersections; another brand of LED is used instead. CALTRANS does not use this head in its Freeway replacement projects. It’s a shame that NYC has started to use Cree for it’s project.

    As far as a teardrop version–I’ve seen very few (and that includes the Skillman Avenue Mission Bells). LA was on a fairly aggressive retro-teardrop kick in the early 2000s. But once the LED conversion program started around 2009, the teardrop installations ground to a halt. I think the LABSL has yet to deem any LED teardrops “suitable” for their use.

    LA, and most locations here in California seem to have settled on a 4300K color temperature, about the same color as a standard office fluorescent light. The LEDs seem to blend fairly well with the remaining Mercury fixtures, of which LA still has plenty.

    I agree with you about the look of the fixture–and among LED lights, I think Cree is the ugliest. LED light is so directional that it probably doesn’t need reflector bowls. Even those test fixtures in Queens have clear glass bowls–strictly for ornamentation would be my guess.

  3. Edward Findlay says:

    LA and many other cities have already started, are well underway, or finished converting to LED street lights. Boston is doing it neighborhood by neighborhood. See this article to see the benefit of the lights as well as how they compare with the older lights:

    And regarding the landmarked lights…retrofitting is possible, bulbs are made to fit the old light fixtures or the fixtures can be rewired to include new LED bulbs while still retaining their lenses which would just be for show:

  4. EW3 says:

    That closeup view looks like something from the original War of the Worlds.

  5. Tom says:

    I live off in suburbia where they converted to these lights about two years ago. From a practical perspective, they’re great…very bright and a large area covered.
    That said, there are a few shortcomings…for one, they can get caked in snow, and since they create very little heat, it doesn’t melt quickly. And perhaps more importantly, they give off a natural white light. What happened to playing manhunt at ten o’clock at night in July with the familiar orange glow?

  6. bruce says:

    I have seen some LED fixtures in the FDR underpasses. The light is brighter and they do save energy. White. not sick orange.

  7. Sandy Saltzman says:

    Is the mercury vapor fixture on the GCP exit ramp at Astoria Blvd. and 33rd street the last one in the City? It eluded the Citywide conversion to high pressure sodium in 1973, and the fixture replacement program of 2007-2008. Can it escape the led fixture program?

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