by Kevin Walsh

Having seen Roosevelt Island’s preserved trolley kiosk in yesterday’s FNY entry, I can now move on to an equally engaging one right next to it at the tramway landing.

What could it be? A large funerary urn from the classical age, perhaps?

Actually it is the base of a unique lamppost, one of two ever produced, that graced the bridge’s on and off ramps at the 2nd Avenue bridge entrance. Both were placed there when the bridge was constructed from 1905-1909. Both originally rested on heavy 4-sided concrete bases that featured the carven names of 4 NYC boroughs, excepting Staten Island. Both stanchions featured five separate lamps, one at the apex of the shaft and four lamps appended. (A 1940s alteration changed the original globes to Westinghouse AK-10 cuplights and took away the shaft lamp, but a recent renovation restored it as before.)

When the Roosevelt Island tram was constructed in 1975 the north lamp was removed, and for many years its whereabouts were little-known. However, historian Mitch Waxman found it languishing in the Sunnyside lamppost yard on 37th Avenue, where it had been for apparently quite awhile, perhaps since its 1975 removal.

The Roosevelt Island Historical Society has now placed it between the trolley kiosk (now the Visitors Center) and the tramway landing. I’m hoping that it could someday be fully restored, Beaux Arts lamps and everything.


1 comment

Dave D August 23, 2014 - 9:25 am

I was just on the Queesnboro Bridge last week an specifically noticed the base with only four boroughs on it. A week later you are writing about it. Only in New York!!


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