WEST BROADWAY POST, Greenwich Village

by Kevin Walsh

My fascination continues with the so-called “special posts” that lurked under elevated trains in the early 20th Century, especially in Manhattan. They seemed to be found most often under the older els constructed in the late 1800s. Later els, built in the early 1900s, as often as not featured pendant lamps suspended from the el structure. In the mid-20th Century, on the surviving els, all received Dwarf versions of octagonal poles, and in the late 20th, “Brownie” posts with large luminaires resembling gumballs. The Brownies are still in place, but many are receiving LED fixtures or davit-style replacements.

Here’s a fairly wild example at Bleecker and West Broadway, which is now known as LaGuardia Place at this intersection. The shaft is abbreviated and the mast is oddly angled, most likely to get around an el structure or a staircase. The photo was taken in 1940 and the elevated train, in this case, was the 6th Avenue El, which ran up West Broadway, turned left at West 3rd, and then headed up 6th. It was torn down in 1938; its replacement is the A/C/E IND subway. It’s likely that this particular pole was replaced shortly thereafter by a regulation Corvington or Bishop Crook post.

Look closely and you’ll see other anachronisms, like a delivery truck for The Sun and a cop walking the beat.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”



Jeff B. July 8, 2019 - 10:24 pm

I believe The Sun delivery truck is a newsstand. It’s on the sidewalk and you can see El pillars in front of and behind it.

Joe Fliel July 9, 2019 - 8:07 am

The Sun delivery truck and beat cop would be anachronisms only if they were didn’t belong in that era. If you saw either today, they would be out of place; therefore, anachronisms..

John Shea July 14, 2019 - 12:00 pm

Note the el columns had not yet been removed. The Sun was folded into the World – Telegram in 1950.

Joe Brennan July 20, 2019 - 11:09 am

I put this image on the web in 2010 when I blogging once a week. Ordinarily I would credit the photographer, but he asked to be anonymous. More at
I date this 1939, the year the el was being torn down, after closing in December 1938. If my guess is correct the photographer was a teenage boy at this time. He had a good eye. The copy on my page can be enlarged a little more. It’s not in sharp focus but it was taken with whatever model of Brownie the boy could get his hands on! Another photo from the same roll (on that page) shows the other side of the newsstand which slants down because it was under a stairway.

redstaterefugee July 21, 2019 - 10:23 am

I could be wrong, but it looks like the police officer is staring at the second car, which looks like a Chrysler or De Soto Air Stream (the follow-up to the acclaimed but unsuccessful Air Flow design).


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