by Kevin Walsh

BROOKLYN Heights can boast a number of dead end alleys, which are rare in New York City. In Brooklyn Heights, these alleys owe their continued existence to Henry Ford, the man who first mass-produced automobiles. Previously, these alleys had been called mewses, or places where horse stables could be found to the rear of main streets.

One such mews is Grace Court Alley, which can be found on Hicks Street south of Remsen. It’s also odd because it’s a street named for another street, as the slightly busier Grace Court can be found across Hicks Street. At the dawn of the auto age in the 1910s, the Dobbins were moved out and the stables turned into residences, which are now worth a pretty penny.

My attention in these dead end mewses is on a few wall bracket lamps, and since 1998, when I began Forgotten New York, I’ve noticed as these brackets have had various lamp styles changed every few years. The title card shows the bracket at #16 Grace Court Alley with a Westinghouse incandescent “cuplight.”

When first installed, the bracket had a bare incandescent bulb with a “radial wave” reflector, shown in the 1940 photo.

By 2009 the bracket looked a little top-heavy with a sodium vapor lamp that shown bright yellow.

In 2017, the bracket was supplied with an LED fixture, whose bulbs are an eyeball-splitting bright white at night. A truly bizarre combination. This makes at least four different lamp fixtures on this one bracket, and there have likely been more than that.

#16 Grace Court Alley is under renovation, and I hope at least the bracket is preserved.

Lamp photos: Bob Mulero

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



ytf January 18, 2023 - 7:17 am

Those LED lights are an abomination. The irony is that they don’t have to be. They can be dimmed and their colour temperature can be adjusted, and they can be installed in decorative housings instead of industrial blah.

Kevin Walsh January 18, 2023 - 10:26 am

The city does have an inventory of “Bell” fixtures that can go on that bracket, but cost is likely a factor.

Larry Rogak January 18, 2023 - 10:36 pm

Cost is a factor in maintaining old street lights, but when it comes to illegal aliens, cost is no object.

V January 19, 2023 - 11:04 am

Prob because they get federal aid for the “aliens” u r referring to. Should we get federal aid for these lights also? lol

William Mangahas January 20, 2023 - 8:30 am

LED streetlights are too bluish white in color.They should have a warmer color even mimicking incandescent color temperature.

Jeff B January 20, 2023 - 10:18 pm

Be In Orange County NY, O&R has installed “warmer” LED fixtures which give off light that resembles the incandescent fixtures they replaced.

John Broda January 18, 2023 - 10:34 am

I appreciate the efficiency and luminosity of LED lamps, but, geez!, can’t they make something a little less “Star Trek Enterprise”-looking for vintage/ classic applications?

Andy January 18, 2023 - 10:59 am

Many European cities, to this day, still use building wall mounted street lighting fixtures on older, narrow, pre-automobile streets. Paris is just one example where these fixtures are still in use. It’s much like the use of building walls for street identification signs.

Sunnysider January 18, 2023 - 2:52 pm

As always, another illuminating post.

Samuel Goodman January 18, 2023 - 9:54 pm

A tear-drop luminaire akin to the incandescent fixtures that once prevailed all across New York City is what needs to be placed here. Wattage can also be reduced and because there is an actual globe,
glare and that harsh light is dramatically reduced.

Stephen F Solosy January 19, 2023 - 8:54 am

Thanks for shining a light on this subject

Charles Ilardi January 20, 2023 - 7:14 am

I had never seen a “radial wave” reflector with a bare bulb until mu aunt and uncle moved to Westchester County in 1970. Route 9A in Ardsley had these in abundance. They actually remained in place right thru the 1980s!


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