I arrived in Little Neck on July 1, 2007, although, living in Flushing since 1993, I was quite aware of the Queens neighborhood tucked into its northeast quadrant just west of Nassau. In fact, I looked at an apartment in Little Neck before taking the one in Flushing where I lived 14 years before moving to Little Neck, where I’be now lived for almost 11 years now.
When I moved into Westmoreland Gardens in 2007, I noticed two streetlamp fixtures dating from the 1960s were still holding firm and illuminating Marathon Parkway and 40th Avenue, respectively. (I know…I know. Me and streetlamps.) The one shown above is a General Electric M400 mercury, with a full glass reflector dish. This particular model battled the Westinghouse OV-25 Silverliner for supremacy on NYC streets from about 1962 until 1972 — just 10 short years, not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things. Mercury lamps shown greenish white and were mostly replaced by yellow sodium lamps in NYC in various makes. In the 1970s, though, the Department of Traffic was not nearly as fastidious in wiping out everything that had come before, so a few hundred mercuries were left in place, like this one.
I was very happy to find this GE M100 on 40th Avenue, right outside my apartment complex. In the 1960s, and before that, NYC had a pecking order or an order of importance for streetlamps. The fixtures with glass reflector bowls must have been more expensive because they were assigned main routes in the boroughs and built-up areas, while the fixtures without them went on side streets, for the most part. This model dueled with the Westinghouse MO-8 on the side streets.
In 2009, 99% of them were wiped off the streets by the DOT, which installed Cooper Lighting model OVZ on all streets, both main routes and side streets; the old hierarchy was gone. After a reign of just 6 years, the DOT again replaced most NYC streetlamp with bright white LED fixtures in various makes such as Cooper and Leotek. There are some pockets of Coopers hanging on, but they’ll succumb eventually.
But I miss the mercs.