FAREWELL 5th and West 32nd

by Kevin Walsh

It’s a shame how 5th Avenue is deteriorating so much, lamppost-wise. At one time there was an unbroken string of these Twins (in 2 different species, admittedly) from Washington Square to Central Park. Now, just four remain. We lost this one recently.

Even 5th Avenue’s set of twin Deskeys, special editions debuting in 1965, are gradually being attritted out, as parts are no longer available.


Soon, 5th Avenue will have a motley mishmosh of straight mast and cobra neck octagonal posts, and boring 34th Street Partnership posts, just like the other midtown avenues. Pity.



Anthony G March 4, 2013 - 7:53 pm

Wow..that really is a shame =\ Another strike for NYC, for abandonment of these beautiful light(lamp) posts. I do understand that they say parts are going out of stock but I’m sure this city, whom wastes money on nonsense, could make some agreement with somewhere to get these produced.

John March 4, 2013 - 11:27 pm

This is a shame. When watching a movie and it is supposed to be a NYC scene I know immediately if it is for real by the street hardware. They have been using Toronto and other cities a lot recently. I hate that. Can’t fool me. Only exception is a Woody Allen they are real shots. The new posts look bland and generic.

therealguyfaux March 6, 2013 - 1:24 pm

Actually, once you get out into the neighborhoods (they’d probably spell it “bo-U-r”) in Toronto, it really doesn’t look all THAT different from what, for lack of a better descriptor, you could call the “generic”-looking parts of Queens or Brooklyn; in fact, many of the plain street lamps our host is always talking about exist up there and, unless you’re LOOKING for stuff like yellow fire pumps (which I’ve seen a few of in New York), the way you really know it’s filmed in T.O. is that the bit-part actors all say “oot.” It’s really a function of how much the city scenes HAVE to look recognizable as only being NEW YORK versus a film being set in New York where the street scenes are or can be set in one of those “generic” neighborhoods. As an example, let me ask you whether you’ve ever watched the TV show Dexter, filmed in Long Beach CA to double Miami. I’ve lived in Southern California and in South Florida, and I myself can tell the difference (washingtonia palms in Ca, queen palms in Fla), but hey, any city with a lot of Art Deco and palm trees “looks like Miami.” You know what Miami is “supposed to look like” because you’ve seen it in many films. It’s cheaper to shoot in Long Beach. You know what NYC is “supposed to look like.” It’s cheaper to shoot in Toronto. You really don’t lose all THAT much– and I expect you as a die-hard New Yorker to tell me I’m 1,000% wrong. Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, which is how the bookies stay in business, as my Dad used to say.

Worldly Canuck March 10, 2013 - 9:29 pm

One of the favourite past-times of us Torontonians is to spot the Toronto street scenes in movies! People don’t bat an eye up here when an MTA transit bus or faux-FDNY rig drives by on the way to a movie scene. Pretending to be New York City is a huge industry up here.

Regardless, I’ve always found it interesting that NYC has maintained such an eclectic range of street lighting. In Toronto, our street lighting seems to last about 40-50 years after which the city gets sick of trying to maintain the out-of-date technology and replaces the whole system in one fell swoop over the space of a couple of years. We are going through one of those periods now where various technologies are being examined with the idea being that every single light standard will be replaced in the next few years. I would think that NYC spends a lot of money trying to keep so many different kinds of lighting in a state of good repair.

And, yes, we call them neighboUrhoods!

Kevin Walsh March 11, 2013 - 8:39 am

I’ve always wondered why you guys need all those extra U’s.

john March 5, 2013 - 7:52 am

Was just there yesterday and noticed it was gone. Too bad

Kiwiwriter March 8, 2013 - 2:45 pm

I just pulled rank, and called both the Landmarks Commission and the New York DOT.

The Commission got back to me very quickly, and said that the lamppost at 32nd and 5th was NOT landmarked, merely a survivor.

The DOT press person told me to send her an e-mail, which I did, and they haven’t answered yet.

That lamppost at 5th and 32nd was deteriorating pretty badly, so I’m not surprised it was finally knocked down.

Apparently not all the cast-iron poles are landmarked. They should be.

Glen Norman March 9, 2013 - 6:39 pm

I found this on the Landmarks Preservation Commission “report” of June 17, 1997; Designation List 282 LP-1961

Lamppost 53
located adjacent to 314 Fifth Avenue, Borough of Manhattan Tax Map Block 833, lot 45.
Landmark Site: Consisting of the property on which the described lamppost is situated.

314 Fifth Avenue is at West 32nd Street. Does this mean that the POST was landmarked as Lampost 53? Or is it the PROPERTY at 314 Fifth Avenue that’s landmarked?

Kiwiwriter March 11, 2013 - 12:32 pm

It’s a mystery, son….

They told me it wasn’t landmarked…it may have had the status and lost it, due to its deterioration.

Chris Daugherty March 14, 2013 - 10:51 am

I’ve wondered if the underground wiring feeding the lamp post is as old as the lamp post itself. That’s around a 100 years old, isn’t it? Does the city connect a new post to the old wires when they plant a new one?

Glen Norman March 17, 2013 - 2:17 am

Chris: The last time I saw this light working in 2011 (I’m only in town once a year), it was dayburning fluorescent twisty bulbs–I don’t think that would be possible with a 90+ year old high voltage series circuit. I’m guessing the pole was rewired to low voltage multiple sometime anround 2010 when the pole was slightly renovated.

As far as the dayburning Incandescent photos from 2002 and 2003, who knows? Maybe at that time, the pole was still wired to the last remaining bit of the original high voltage series circuit. It’s possible that ancient series circuit extends down to 28th & 5th, 23rd & 5th, all the way to 19th & 5th. The oldest twin at 23rd & Broadway has a photocell on it, which is usually indicative of low voltage multiple wiring–again, who knows when that change was made.


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