by Kevin Walsh

Late 1950s blueprint of a new kind of lamppost, with a slotted shaft, L-shaped curved neck, and new mercury luminaire. The lamps were drawn by industrial designer Donald Deskey (whose most famed account was the Radio City Music Hall interior). The first would be installed at Broadway and Murray Street near City Hall in 1958, and they would invade main avenues, side streets, parkways and expressways beginning in 1963.

One of these days I’ll put together a comprehensive Deskey lamp page on FNY.

From the Robert Mulero collection.



Alan Gregg Cohen December 30, 2013 - 1:29 pm

I didn’t know how prolific an industrial designer Deskey was until I read about him on the web. Were these lamposts the first streamlined lights to grace the streets, and expressways of New York?

Kevin Walsh December 30, 2013 - 2:52 pm

The octagonal-shafted lamps, introduced in 1950 and still the dominant lamppost in NYC, were the first streamlined posts.

dave c. December 30, 2013 - 9:54 pm

Clearly Deskey stole the design from the 1953 film version of “War of the Worlds” and the Martian war machine. Don’t believe me? Just Google “1953 movie War of the Worlds” and hit “Images”, or better yet, just watch this clip on YouTube.

Kevin Walsh January 1, 2014 - 8:11 am

I have ALWAYS thought that.

Cliff August 11, 2019 - 4:35 pm

As kids we used to call them War of the World lampposts!
The daring kids used to climb up them and perch on top of the lamp housing, the two concave groves in the post made great hand and toe holds.


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