by Kevin Walsh

There’s a couple of ‘mystery poles’ in Manhattan, whose former use is hidden in the vicissitudes of time. Like this one on Broadway and West 142nd. It’s too far away from the corner to have been a stoplight, and there’s no bank behind it — sometimes banks will install their own string of lampposts on the sidewalk. It doesn’t correspond to the designs of any gaslight posts I’ve seen.

I’d ask, but it isn’t talking.


Karl X February 9, 2012 - 11:05 pm

The base from a sidewalk clock perhaps?

Bob February 10, 2012 - 4:27 am

It’s a historical marker of some sort. I believe it is related to another one like it on Broadway. I’m having a memory “black-out” as to what it ‘s purpose is but I’m sure it’s related to the other “mystery pole”.

sk February 10, 2012 - 9:21 am

There’s also a mystery pole or stanchion nearby on Broadway and W.138th Street.

Hervey Willets February 10, 2012 - 11:37 am

Just a wild guess, but maybe a clock standard? Could there have been a Jewelry store at that site at one time?

Pilsner Panther February 10, 2012 - 8:21 pm

There’s at least one more of these on upper Broadway, near 215th Street. It also might have supported a sidewalk clock at one time, or who knows what…? It appears to be very old, maybe 19th century vintage.

KevinJWalsh February 11, 2012 - 5:13 pm

The one on Bway and 211th is smaller. THAT one was a gaslight post.

Mark February 11, 2012 - 6:47 pm

Maybe it supported a fire alarm box. It looks too new to be a gaslight pole.It appears to have supported something electric probably from the early 20th Century. Maybe just an old incandescent streetlight.

AlC February 12, 2012 - 12:03 pm

Reminds me of an old stop light. Remember one in the 1950s before they repaved Francis Lewis Blvd that had only a red and green light, no yellow warning.

Neil Knott February 12, 2012 - 7:45 pm

I remember poles like that all along Fort Hamilton Parkway (from about 36th Street to at least 86th Street} in the 1960’s and, probably, into the early 1970’s. Each intersection had two. One of them had a box, which, my father told me, contained an electro-mechanical device to control the lights. The other one at each intersection looked just like this one. As AC said, there was no yellow light, but the red came on before the green went off to warn you it was changing.

KevinJWalsh February 12, 2012 - 11:05 pm

Yes, there were thousands of those little stoplights. I don’t think this is a match…

ron s February 13, 2012 - 7:21 pm

A stoplight would be closer to the corner.

Big Larry February 15, 2012 - 1:55 pm

The design on the pole doesn’t match the design of the poles that held the two-color traffic signals. Nor does it match any of the City-owned poles I’m familiar with. I am guessing that this was installed by the adjacent property owner in connection with some long-gone business establishment.

Bill Melater February 17, 2012 - 8:55 pm

It was a pole who wandered over from Greenpoint and decided to stay.

Riaz February 18, 2012 - 6:24 am

A non-standard design generally indicates that a pole was installed by a business rather than by a utility company or a city council department. Judging from the height of the pole, it’s too short for a streetlight but about right to support a sign or a clock belonging to a long vanished business.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.