LAMPPOST ALLSORTS: from the Bob Mulero Collection

by Kevin Walsh

In a sense Forgotten New York always goes back to lampposts. When your webmaster was six I noticed the wholesale replacement of old styles by new ones in Bay Ridge and later, all around town. I filled note pads and tablets with drawings of lampposts — never ones of my own design, but slavish imitations of the ones I found in NYC streets, both old and new. I still doodle them.

And when I need to conjure up a FNY page, quick, I can always count on fellow enthusiast Bob Mulero to send over some of the ones I missed.

TITLE CARD: Department of Transportation maintenance yard, 37th Ave. near 43rd Street, Astoria. This mini-scroll is most often used to hang fire alarm indicator lamps.

Thing With Two Heads. This post was also in the DOT maintenance yard in Astoria, but was removed just a couple of years ago. I haven’t seen this configuration anywhere else in NYC; Deskey posts, with their modular design, lend hemselves more to two-headedness, especially on Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, where a few remain. But this mast, with both a GE sode and Westinghouse cuplight, is a mystery that will probably remain buried.

RIGHT: Old-skool yellow caution arrow blinkers, 23rd Avenue and 35th Street, Astoria. Old lamps lurk under the Amtrak Hell Gate Bridge approach as we’ll see.

The railroad tracks that span Astoria, Queens, to traverse the East River over the Hell Gate Bridge travel over a magnificent concrete arch much of the way. A few of the streets that run under the arch east of 32st Street were lit by these scrolled masts; these bulbs ceased to burn decades ago, but the city has never removed them. Note the wire guard in lieu of glass diffuser on the right sample.

These are essentially the same except one has a curved bracket, the other, jointed. This same joint design is used on longarm Corvington lamps as well as to hang fire alarm indicator lamps.

American Railway Express, the Federal Express of its day, had offices in the Sunnyside Yards and a brick entrance on the bridge. As an added fillip, here is one of only two remaining examples of the wall-bracketed version of the bishop crook lamppost remaining in New York City (it has lost its decorative scrollwork, and even its 1980s era sodium lamp has burned out).

The Sunnyside Yards in Astoria boasted two ancient iron bridges traversing it at Harold Avenue (39th Street) and Honeywell Street. Before both were replaced between 1994 and 2002 they were a veritable Land That Time Forgot when the subject is lampposts.

LEFT: Bishop Crook mast on special post, Harold Avenue Bridge; CENTER: bishop crook post on Broadway near Prince Street, Soho (1978). This post remains today but outfitted with a bucket sodium lamp. RIGHT: 1930s Triborough Bridge-style twinlamp, FDR Drive, Upper East Side, mid-1970s. Since replaced.

Flock of twin Corvingtons, Jericho Turnpike (Jamaica Avenue) at 91st Avenue, Bellerose. Twin Corvs never appeared in their classic era, 1910-1950; they are a 1990s invention.

Type 41S Whitestone-style bracket, 11th Avenue between West 14th-West 16th Streets. These masts appeared attached to posts and also as wall lamps, sometimes illuminating overpass undersides. Another one can be found at Joralemon Street under the BQE at Furman Street.

When I gingerly entered Newark a couple of years ago I found old-skool lamppost heaven on Ferry Street, near Newark’s Penn Station. These beauties must go back to 1910-1915 at least. I plan to explore NJ cities some more for relics like this. Your webmaster litearlly gaped in incredulity when I found them.