by Kevin Walsh

The Donald Deskey lampposts, first introduced in 1958, are gradually being phased out as the city no longer has the parts for them. With their double-slotted shafts they were eminently adaptable. The posts were overwhelmingly used to hang L-shaped lamppost shafts, but there are still plenty of Deskey stoplights around town like this one in the sleepy neighborhood of Concord, Staten Island.



KG2V August 28, 2013 - 6:46 am

I always wondered WHY they take them down until they NEED to. They took down a perfectly well functioning one across the street, needed no parts. If they do it right, you take down one, scavenge the parts, you have the parts to keep a few more going. It’s NOT like they break that often. On top of that, with CNC machining and the like, NYC could just order parts made.

To me, it just seems like make work for the city lighting crews/contractors (don’t have them doing work, no chance for payoffs)

therealguyfaux August 29, 2013 - 6:23 pm

“… [N]o chance for payoffs…”

And there you got it in one, sir or madam.

A bit of Bastiat’s Broken Windows might be at work here, as well.

Fletcher Vredenburgh August 28, 2013 - 12:05 pm

How do they not have the parts? Did the manufacturer go out of business?

Kevin Walsh August 29, 2013 - 6:41 am

I believe so.

Frank August 29, 2013 - 5:52 pm

You can bet that if they are being phased out, Staten Island will be the last place they are replaced!

Sandy Saltzman August 29, 2013 - 7:41 pm

I talked to the Welsbach crew that was changing the Desky poles in Astoria. The reason these poles are being removed is that the arms are failing due to metal fatigue where the arm meets the main pole. This is a design defect that has been recognized for many years. The last of the Desky poles installed in the early 80’s had a metal band installed around the top of the pole and the arm in an attempt to mitigate this problem. The first problem with the Desky poles was recognized shortly after their introduction. NYC streets are very unforgiving. The most minor contact between a bumper and the original cast aluminum transformer base resulted in a hole,or worse. After 1968, the standard steel transformer base was used with the Desky pole.

Kiwiwriter September 6, 2013 - 1:36 pm

It’s amusing that the Deskey poles had a design defect from the start…it kind of figures, though. Planned obsolescence, and all that.

Donald Deskey was honored on a sheet of US Postal Service stamps recognizing American designers. They did NOT show his lampposts.


Leave a Comment

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