Here’s the Belt Parkway (officially Shore Parkway) looking west toward Starrett City (officially Spring Creek Towers) in 1974, the same year the housing project in Brooklyn’s far south opened. I never thought I would see a photo of this dimly-remembered situation I had noticed every time I was seated in a car going through that stretch. I speak, of course, of the Woodie lamps that mysteriously held a set of General Electric M400 lamps in that remote stretch.
The Woodies were installed when the Parkway was built from 1938-1940, and originally held some very strange-looking luminaires powered by sodium vapor. In the late 1940s and into the 1950s, the Woodies were outfitted with a mixed set of “bell” and “cuplight” lamps, carrying yellow incandescent bulbs, that are familiar to NYC lamppost buffs who remember them as standard issue on the Bishop Crooks, Corvingtons and Twins that populated NYC streets until 1960, when mercury lamps that included the M400 began to squeeze them out.
Yet the Belt Parkway remained steadfastly in the incandescent camp until the early 1970s, when the Department of Transportation began to grandfather them out in favor of the new Donald Deskey poles, going so far as to install “cuplights” on them–a rare sight anywhere else. Even rarer was the sight of M400s on the Woodies — it only occurred in this one stretch between 1964 and the mid-1970s, when Deskeys began to truly dominate. What was the rationale? My guess is a temporary shortage of Deskey equipment, but the DOT wished to replace the old incandescents by hook or crook — and we wound up with these hybrids. If you look carefully, in the background you can see a set of Deskeys carrying the “cups.”
ForgottenFan Howard Fein: That stretch of the Belt on the Brooklyn-Queens border had the Woodies retrofitted with GE florescent fixtures because it was in the final approach path for planes approaching JFK.
Heady days indeed for lamppost buffs!
By the 1990s the Deskeys themselves were wiped out by a new set of cylindrical, straight-armed posts, all of which now carry Light Emitting Diode bulbs.