THE FIRST RETRO-CROOKS: at New York Palace Hotel

by Kevin Walsh

Although Bishop Crook lampposts have proliferated all over town again over the past couple of decades, there was a time, between about 1962 and 1980, when they almost went extinct, except for a few survivors in downtown Manhattan.

In 1980 it all changed when a flock of retro-Crooks, using the original molds (now available from manufacturers like Spring City) was installed along Madison Avenue and East 50th and 51st Streets in front of what is now the New York Palace Hotel, but was built in 1886 as six separate brownstone “mansions” called the Villard Houses. The hotel was formerly home to The Urban Center and its architecture and urban planning-heavy bookstore, where I spent many hours.

In 2013 the hotel was completely shrouded behind construction netting, as it was getting a remodeling after the last such in 1991.

This flock of retro-Crooks remains different from the rest around town: they still have gold trim, and they still burn soft yellow incandescent light, rather than the harsh sodium-based lighting others around town have.



Glen Norman March 7, 2013 - 1:15 pm

No wonder I couldn’t find them last visit! I thought they were on Park Avenue. Despite the relative newness of this model, it seems to be showing its age. Take a look at the chunks missing from the bell and the pole detail.

William Mangahas March 8, 2013 - 5:12 pm

Those “mission bell’ fixtures must have to be original. The retro “mission bells”, with sodium vapor lamps are a bit longer and have a different shape on top

Tachsyvasia March 9, 2013 - 11:49 pm

And to think all this time I thought the first crooks there were the Helmsleys. How silly of me!


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