DOUBLE DESKEY, Union Square

NYC’s Deskey lamppost, a design of industrial developer Donald Deskey (who also designed the interior of Radio City Music Hall and the Crest toothpaste tube) was first introduced on Broadway and Murray Street in 1958, and by the early 1960s, Deskeys were the most frequently-found NYC standard-issue lamppost, eclipsing for a short time the more ubiquitous 8-sided aluminum posts. ¬†Their reign was fairly brief and by the 1970s, no new Deskeys were being installed. They are still frequently found around town but are gradually being grandfathered out, as there are no parts for them being manufactured anymore.

The Queen of Avenues, 5th Avenue, was a showcase for Deskey dominance in the 1960s. Between 32nd and 61st Streets, beginning in 1965, special edition, bronze-colored Deskey twin posts were installed, but by the 70s, they were beginning to disappear — until today, just a couple dozen of them remain. They replaced castiron Twins that had dominated 5th Avenue in two different designs since the early 1890s, one of the first electrified lamppost designs to appear.

Between Washington Square and 32nd Street, a different type of double Deskey was installed. The shaft of the Deskey post holds two slots, and a mast can be mounted in any direction, meaning light can be irradiated in a full 360-degree sweep. On corners, double D’s were placed with two masts at 45-degree angles, to light 5th Avenue and the cross street. In midblocks, the posts were installed sideways and ¬†each held two masts, each facing 5th Avenue, doubling the usual light.

By 2015, just two of those double D’s remained, on the west side of 5th Avenue between 16th and 17th Streets.

Another can be found between West 8th and 9th Streets.

7/21/15

 


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2 Responses to DOUBLE DESKEY, Union Square

  1. Michael from the Village says:

    Still one of these tucked behind trees on the West side of 5th between 8th St. and 9th St.!

  2. Kiwiwriter says:

    When I was a kid, riding buses down Fifth Avenue, I was extremely aware of the Deskeys, and how they were single Deskeys above 59th Street, the bronze-colored Deskeys from 59th to 32nd, and double Deskeys thereafter.

    They still had the marble traffic lights, too, but those vanished, with the Mercury statues atop them going on the ornamental Deskeys. Now, those too are gone. Most of the Deskeys below 59th Street have been attritted by weather and traffic.

    I did not know he invented the Crest toothpaste tube. Being weird, I always saw something similar in the Deskey pole and the Crest tube’s design…

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