Many Chinatowns around the USA make full use of local decor, even down to the directional signs and lampposts, and beginning in 1964 or so, NYC began to add its own Chinatown flavor in its lampposts.

The slotted SLECO, imagined by industrial designer Donald Deskey, first appeared on Broadway and Murray Street in 1958 and started making major inroads in 1962. A “special batch” was included for Chinatown, in which an AK-10 Westinghouse cuplight was clad in a pagoda-shaped shade. These survived until the mid-1970s, but the Department of Transportation never bothered to replace them when a shade dropped off; a new GE M400 or Westy Silverliner took their places. In addition, the poles were painted gold, instead of the silvery grey most NYC lamps sport.

In the 1990s the DOT decided to give the pagoda shades another go, and new versions went up on a variety of lamppost styles. Many of these have survived.

This Deskey, on Bayard and Mott, is among the original Deskeys tasked with the public-relations friendly pagoda shades. It sports a new shade, but is recognizable as one of the originals because its “cobra neck” is shorter than the standard-issue samples.

Meanwhile, if anybody has a color photo of one of the originals let me see it!


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2 Responses to ORIGINAL PAGODA DESKEY, Chinatown

  1. chris says:

    and also some pictures of the pagoda top phone booths for that little extra touch

  2. Kiwiwriter says:

    I remember these as a kid, remember them disappearing, and remember them coming back.

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