by Kevin Walsh

Some of NYC’s fire alarms, now being gradually grandfathered and attritioned out of existence because of the mobile phone networks, have been in place since very early in the century. This one on Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens, still sports an original shaft that formerly held an alarm light notifying passersby of the presence of an alarm. Since the first of these alarms was installed in 1912, it probably was installed within a decade of that. The sidewalk has been replaced so many times that the base is completely buried.


Dan Schwartz November 30, 2011 - 3:53 pm

Wow, I wouldn’t have expected the sidewalk level to rise like that. Don’t they remove the old one before installing new sidewalk? Anyway, the text should probably specify “since very early in the 20th century”, considering that we are now in the 21st.

Bill Mangahas December 1, 2011 - 8:02 pm

A fire alarm box that once held an lorange globe. Rare find, I wonder how many survive besides this one ?

Sal December 2, 2011 - 8:37 am

Thats brilliant of them to get rid of these and rely on cell phones…lets say youre out and your phone battery is dead and the building near you is burning??? couldve just pulled the alarm box…I think they should seriously rethink this one

Al Tz December 4, 2011 - 8:14 am

The piece that formerly held the light is known as a “top column”. Nowadays they are still used in cases where a cable from the box, must run, exposed, to an overhead line or building. That is what is happening with this box as the cable on top shows. There are a number around with this (sometimes temporary) configuration.

PegLegGuy December 23, 2012 - 5:14 pm

My old neighborhood!

Corner of Broadway & Baxter Ave.

Elmhurst General is 50′ to the right.

Went thru the car wash once a week for years.




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