by Kevin Walsh

Change is coming to elevated train platform lamps, and for me, esthetically at least, not for the better.

Photo: NYC Subway

Here’s a decades-old view of the Myrtle Avenue elevated platform on the Nassau-Jamaica line, serving today’s J and M trains. A variety of lamp stanchions have been employed to illuminate el platforms over the years, some simple in design, others more elaborate; sheer logistics have stopped me from doing a comprehensive series on all of them. As a general rule, as time has passed, the designs have gotten a great deal simpler and less ornate.

This view is from decades ago and the original 1910s stanchions are in place, with heavy hoods. Not all the hoods and reflectors used on subway platform lamps were as large as this, but this was a popular style used on many BMT platforms.

Shown here, and in the title card above, are replica versions of the stanchions in use at the 9th Avenue station on the West End line serving D trains. Original stanchions used incandescent bulbs that shone a dullish yellow. The stanchions at 9th Avenue replaced the originals that surprisingly survived into the 2000s, and were outfitted with brighter yellow sodium lamps. As you can see extra protections were added to prevent vandalism.

Platform stanchions in the same style, with the same replica hoods, were installed during renovations to the Queensboro Plaza station several years ago. However, the MTA has monkeyed with the design, removing the old-style hoods and installing new LED fixtures, which are apparently incompatible with the replica hoods. The same thing has happened with the stanchions at the Court Square station, one stop over. Only the shafts remain as a reminder of former glory.

The LED lamps provide brighter lighting, but have forced an esthetic sacrifice.

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


1 comment

John September 22, 2020 - 5:53 pm

Have you gotten comments from people when you take street hardware photos? Before I moved off S.I. I took some photos. I was taking a photo of the winged victory statue in Pleasant Plains and guys passing in a car called me a crazy nut.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.