by Kevin Walsh

Many Chinatowns around the USA make full use of local decor, even down to the directional signs and lampposts, and beginning in 1964 or so, NYC began to add its own Chinatown flavor in its lampposts.


“Special batches” of Chinatown-styled streetlamps, in which an AK-10 Westinghouse cuplight was clad in a pagoda-shaped shade, survived until the mid-1970s, but the Department of Transportation never bothered to replace them when a shade dropped off; a new GE M400 or Westy Silverliner took their places. In addition, the original poles, exclusively Donald Deskey SLECOs, were painted gold, instead of the silvery grey most NYC lamps sport, as in the above photo of the Bowery at Pell Street in 1964.

In the 1990s the DOT decided to give the pagoda shades another go, and new versions went up on a variety of lamppost styles, including regulation octagonal-shafted poles, the dominant style in NYC. Many of these have survived, including this one on Mulberry Street alongside Columbus Park in the former Five Points region.

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S. Saltzman December 13, 2018 - 7:14 am

That’s a great photo! Deskeys with Pagoda fixtures, yellow Manhattan street signs, a High Pressure Fire System hydrant, single and twin mounted fluorescent street lights, a “ Telephone To Call Police” illuminated sign “ on the nearest Deskey( but appears to be missing the phone), “Fishy’s Bar” that looks like something that would have been at home in the original Five Points, a Pogoda topped telephone booth, traffic lights in olive drab paint instead of yellow, and a giant painted sign letting everyone know that the Chinese People love Barry Goldwater! I’m sure someone can identify all the vehicles in the photo.

Mark 805 December 15, 2018 - 3:01 pm

And a phone number of ST 4-5522! I wonder if that was the STuyvesant exchange.


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