by Kevin Walsh

I’ve wanted to get a picture of this lamppost for a long time. It’s on 17th Street and 3rd Avenue in Park Slope under the overpasses at the junction of the Gowanus Expressway and Prospect Expressway and it’s hard to get there on foot, as the area has been under seemingly endless construction for years.

At one time this was the lamppost of choice used to illuminate the Gowanus Parkway, built as an extension of the Belt Parkway in 1940. Eventually it would connect to the Brooklyn Battery (Hugh Carey) Tunnel, opened in 1951, but also to the Brooklhyn-Queens Expressway, which was completely finished in 1962. Originally, though, it was a more modest parkway and some of it was even built atop the pillars that carried the old 5th Avenue Elevated.

This style of lamp was originally installed on the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge in the 1930s, and the design spread to other parkways as they were built around town. The famed “Woodie” poles were used in more suburban settings.

It’s survived al these years probably because the Department of Transportation doesn’t know where it is (I’ve just given it away). The original incandescent “cup” light was updated to a brighter sodium bucket light in the 1980s.


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