Photo: Bob Mulero
From FNY’s “Ancien Regime” lamps page:
The first castiron post to appear on NYC streets was what The System Electric Companies classified as the Type 3 Fifth Avenue post, in 1892. At first, only one corner per intersection got one, but later on, this was expanded to two. The posts went through a variety of luminaires at first, some quite fanciful, until the style shown above were settled on. These later received “acorn,” then “bell” luminaries [shown here]. As the decades wore on Fifth Avenue received a separate style of Twin, the Type 1. Type 3′s also turned up on other NYC avenues, but their bailiwick was Fifth Avenue. They were Beaux Arts masterpieces with globes at the top of the shafts and springs at the apex and the tips of each mast. They also had “ladder rests,” a nod to the earlier gaslight era.
A very few Type 3′s made it as far as the 1980s, at 5th and 15th, 17th, and 25th. They have all vanished. One lone post, at the SE corner of 5th and 23rd and Madison Park, in front of the Seward statue, retains the Type 3 scrollwork, albeit on what looks like a Type 1BC bishop crook shaft and base.
This post at East 17th and 5th somehow made it all the way to 1994, with a partner at 5th and East 15th, but not without losing its finial, which resembled a spring. The version at Madison Square has also lost quite a bit of ornamentation.
At 5th and East 17th today, a regulation octagonal pole with a straight shaft occupies the same space. The Type 3 was “disappeared” in 1994 and no one knows its whereabouts.
Also note the special double Deskeys further up the avenue in the photo. Between 14th and 32nd Streets, 5th Avenue employed a Deskey variation that saw the posts turned 90 degrees and two mastarms attached on both sides.
These shouldn’t be confused with the special copper-colored Deskeys installed on 5th Avenue between 32nd and 60th Streets. Some of those still stand, but are not replaced when they fail. I’ve nicknamed those “The Donalds.”