Here’s an extraordinary shot I never thought I’d see from 1969: a surviving under-the-El castiron lamppost that somehow made it all the way to 1969 at the northeast corner of Third Avenue and East 156th Street in Melrose, Bronx.
In the early 20th Century, when castiron lampposts that held incandescent lights were going up all over NYC, the mainstays were longarmed Corvingtons, that went on wider streets, and Bishop Crooks and Type Fs, which went on the narrower side streets. Brooklyn got its own separate lamppost designs. And then there were the streets that were shadowed by elevated trains. Some of these streets got pendant lamps that were suspended from the el structure, while others got a short-armed version with scrollwork, the type shown here.
Occasionally, these lamps had to be constructed with S-shaped curves in their masts so they could get around el pillars and staircases, as was the case here. In the 1950s, most of these classics were replaced with Dwarf versions of octagonal-shafted posts that at first carried incandescents and them greenish-white mercury lamps manufactured by Westinghouse and GE.
On this corner, though, the Department of Traffic (it became the Department of Transportation in the late 1970s) decided to keep a castiron in place long after its brothers had been replaced. Indeed on the other corner, a Bishop Crook post was still in place. Shortly after the photo was taken, a regulation mercury light was installed, and the El itself was razed in 1973, and its collection of Dwarf poles shortly thereafter.
In all my years of lamppost hunting that goes back to when I was a kid in Bay Ridge, I never saw one of these in the wild!
Third Avenue and East 156th in 2018. Few remember there was ever an elevated train here.
1969 photo: Facebook group, The Late Great BRONX 3rd Avenue El