UPTOWN WHIRL. IND light stanchions

by Kevin Walsh

Jump on the A train, take it uptown almost all the way to the end of the line, get out at 190th Street and exit on the Fort Washington Avenue side, and there it is in all its glory — one of the last, if not the last, freestanding subway lamp stanchions — that is, one bearing the formerly lit see through SUBWAY sin at the top, that is. Since the A train (8th Avenue line) is IND, most of which was built in the 1932-1940 period) this sign likely dates from that period — its simple, basic Moderne-ish lines and unornamented post pretty much tells the tale. The older IRT and BMT had them, too, but to my knowledge, none of them remain, except this one.

The city has taken care to repaint the sign periodically. The SUBWAY rectangle doesn’t light up these days, I presume, but the green globe indicating this particular entrance is open 24/7 (barring trackwork closing the station) does.There have been a succession of indicators in place of the green globe, which ws introduced in the early 1980s, over the years, but I’m not sure what was originally there.
The IND 190th Street station is set back a little from the street, and the real find is what is lining the sidewalk between the street and the station entrance.
The IND has no el stations save the Smith-9th and 4th Avenue stations in Brooklyn, [in 2011 both are either completely or partially closed for repairs] and so, the IND had never gotten a chance to trot out any elevated platform lights. Here we see a taste of what might have been, and it’s bizarre indeed, with a luminaire vaguely resembling the shape of the multi-mouthed Alien from that series of sci-fi films. One was lit with green mercury bulb when I passed. All are behind bars lest they attack passersby.