DWARF DESKEYS, Fort Greene 1970

The scene here is looking east on Myrtle Avenue at Prince Street in late 1970. As documented by Bill Mangahas of Newkirk Images, the Myrtle Avenue El has just been demolished, and we are left with Myrtle Avenue still illuminated in this stretch by  a series of Dwarf Donald Deskey lamps. Some of the pavement has worn down, revealing Belgian block pavement and some long-disused trolley tracks; Myrtle Avenue, besides the el, had three trolley routes, the 15, 17 and 54 running along it; all had been retired by 1951. What make is that beauty crossing Myrtle?

While the right side of this scene is now dominated by anonymous, if pricey, high rise apartment condominiums, the left side has been relatively consistent. The Ingersoll Community Center is still there, with a larger building, and the Raymond Ingersoll Houses, constructed in 1944 and named for a Brooklyn borough president (1934-40) and earlier parks commissioner (1914-17) are constant as the rain.

I’m a bit puzzled about this stretch of Deskeys. Why not just keep the earlier curved -mast Dwarves and install new lamps? In the background, one such curved-mast post can be seen. My guess is that here, with the el positioned relatively low to the ground, Myrtle Avenue was illuminated with pendant lamps suspended from the el structure, which the city did on some els. Before the el was demolished, the Deskeys were installed.

I seem to recall that the city was slow to replace these Dwarf posts and they persisted for a few years, perhaps even after I began attending college in the area in 1975. I’d like to get into an HG Wells time machine and find out. However, that stretch of Brooklyn was not nearly as tranquil in 1975 as it is now; I can recall visiting Myrtle Avenue just once, in 1965, with my mother. I didn’t really see much more of Myrtle until I walked its entire length in 2010!

Withering Myrtle: the Last Days of the Myrtle Avenue El

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10 Responses to DWARF DESKEYS, Fort Greene 1970

  1. Bob C says:

    I see what looks like a 1967 Cadillac DeVille (can’t see if it’s a 4 dr or a Coupe de Ville
    partially obscured by an early 50s navy blue Buick


  2. Michael Lagana says:


  3. Dennis says:

    Does anyone have photos of dwarf cast iron Twinlamps from Rockaway Boulevard from this era?

  4. Gary Fonville says:

    Hey Bob C,

    True. It does look like a ’67 Cadillac
    But upon close examination, I’d say it was a ’68 model. Why? Because1968 was the year that the Feds required that all cars had rear tail lights that could be be visible from the side when lit. So engineers at GM had a cheap and easy solution with Cadillac tail lights. Since ’67 and ’68 tail lights were identical on Cadillacs, they just made a small slit on the side in the ’68’s tail light, thereby making Cadillacs be in compliance with the new rule.

  5. John Shea says:

    Not a Buick – no “ventiports”. Could be an Olds

  6. Larry says:

    When the Myrtle Ave El was torn down, it really opened the street up……It lasted so long because the City did not build an IND underneath it as they did earlier on Fulton Street………..Ingersoll had the Main Broojklyn Public library building built in 1941 named after him and Ingersoll was the oldest telephone exchange in my area of Flatbush growing up….

  7. Walt Gosden says:

    NY2AZ you have a keen eye and are correct about the Oldsmobile. Most interesting comments and observations re the Cadillac’s as well. Nice to see some car enthusiasts follow this site and can add to the information in addition to the great descriptions of the streets, signs, buildings , lamp posts etc.

  8. Earthdog says:

    I’d guess the Dwarf Deskeys were replaced when the city began switching over to HP sodium lighting
    circa 1972-73. Judging from streetview, 25-foot cylindrical aluminum posts and “quarter-loop” curved masts seemed to be standard for new lighting along major roads back then, similar to the stretch of 7th Avenue flanking the Gowanus Expressway trench in Bay Ridge.

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