PLATFORM LAMP, Van Cortlandt Park

by Kevin Walsh

I have begun to pay more attention to platform lighting on elevated subway stations, which comes in a variety of posts from the earliest ornate ones, to the purely functional ones installed from the 1960s to the 1990s, and the newer ones that have begun to lean toward ornamental again. It took a change in my thinking. I never considered them “lampposts” because they lit subway platforms, not streets. I have had to become more ecumenical, more diverse, in my mindset. why shouldn’t I consider them lampposts?

Take this variety, on the side platform at 242nd Street-Van Cortlandt Park, the last stop on the #1 train. It’s a freestanding post mounted on the railing equipped with one incandescent bulb. No doubt, these were standard issue when the el was extended up here in the 19-0h’s and remained standard until they were replaced with brighter sodium lights, which still dominate subway platforms despite the LED incursion everywhere else. When the MTA overhauls stations, the new lighting is invariably of the LED type.

It’ll take me a long time and plenty of subway fares to do a complete survey of elevated station lighting but I may need to suck my gut in and just do it. Meanwhile, the public can’t get anywhere near these original platform lamps at 242nd, since they’re in a barricaded area used only by MTA employees. Nevertheless, you can see that it’s still regularly painted and gets a new bulb when needed. Hopefully, someone working at the station appreciates these over 100-year old lamps as the true artifacts that they are.

As always, “comment…as you see fit.” I earn a small payment when you click on any ad on the site.



William Mangahas November 18, 2021 - 7:02 am

I’m surprised there isn’t an LED bulb in that fixture.

Kevin Walsh November 18, 2021 - 8:57 am


Andy November 18, 2021 - 10:59 am

The lighting fixtures and ornamental platform fencing at 242nd St. mimic 19th century Manhattan Railway elevated lines. The IRT took over those routes in 1903 and when its first subway routes opened 1904-08, the elevated extensions in Upper Manhattan and The Bronx were similar in design to the original elevated lines. The stations at 125th, from Dyckman to 242nd inclusive, and from Jackson Ave. to West Farms Square inclusive, were all constructed using the same design, much of which has thankfully been preserved today.

Kevin Walsh November 18, 2021 - 12:31 pm

except the lamps.

Paul P June 17, 2022 - 12:38 am

This is a beautiful lamp post, definitly related to the bishop’s crooks and others of the era not being replicated. Thanks for highlighting it.


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