WHAT could be one of the two last gaslight posts on public Manhattan streets can be found here, at Broadway and West 211th Street. The other one is on Patchin Place in Greenwich Village (see below). However, old photos reveal that these posts, in addition to holding gaslight fixtures, could also carry street signs and mailboxes. The only older photos I have reveal street signs on this post. However, gaslamps have not been commonly used on NYC streets since the early 1910s, so this pole may have originally carried a gaslamp and later, street signage.
Gaslamps first began to appear in NYC streets in the 1820s and were installed by two companies, The New York Gaslight Company and Manhattan Gas Light Company, which operated in two different parts of town, one below Grand Street and one above. They received light from gas lines below the street, but had to be turned on and off by lamplighters each morning and night. The one seen here was likely installed in the 1860s when Broadway was still known as Kingsbridge Road and the street grid and accompanying homes had not been built. However, the nearby Dyckman Farmhouse, dating from the colonial era, was already in place.
The gaslamp at the end of the dead end Patchin Place in Greenwich Village has long since been converted to electricity and received a different post top fixture than it had when it was a gaslamp. The post and ladder rest crossbar, though, are most likely original.
NYC’s King of Lampposts Bob Mulero has been merrily snapping away since 1978 and found a couple of gaslight stumps back then, one beside a high-pressure fire hydrant at Pearl Street and Coenties Alley. The post was surviving intact when tax photographers in 1940 found it. Note the el over Pearl Street, which survived until 1942.
Here’s another gaslight base that Bob found at Park Avenue and East 33rd. Long gone these days. The iron forger M.J. Drummond’s name is embossed on the base.
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