by Kevin Walsh

THIS ancient warrior has survived this long In Canarsie, so I don’t think I’m putting it in danger by featuring it here. Located on obscure Nolan’s Lane off East 96th Street, just north of Foster Avenue, it’s New York City’s last surviving example of a SLECO (Street Lighting Equipment Company) mercury vapor lamp. Such lights burn greenish-white and dominated NYC street lighting in the 1960s.

Mercury lamps came in two classes. The various makes, by General Electric, Westinghouse, SLECO and others, employed glass reflector disks on main avenues and roads, while side streets got cheaper models with no glass reflectors. When sodium lights arrived in the 1970s, all streets, no matter how obscure, received fully reflective sodium lamps.

However, the tide has turned back toward no reflectors when the LED revolution began in the mid-2010s. However, light produced by LEDs therefore shines straight down, so you have intense light just below the lamp and darkness in between. LEDs supposedly last longer, so most municipalities have converted to them.

Am I taking a chance revealing this lamp’s location? Perhaps. However, Norton’s Lane has been privatized over much of its two-block length in recent years and its street signs have come down…so it’s possible the Department of Transportation doesn’t control its lighting. This is the only streetlamp on Norton’s Lane’s two blocks.

Photo: American Street Light Enthusiasts And Collectors

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John January 15, 2023 - 12:49 pm

The light reflectors we had on S.I, in the early 60s were slightly curved..

William Mangahas January 16, 2023 - 6:32 pm

Then the mercury vapor lights were placed by sodium vapor making the streets look like orange daylight.

Nunzio January 15, 2023 - 11:43 pm

We need a shot of that light and the wonderful ambiance it casts around it at NIGHT! Man, I miss those greenish grayish mercury vapor lights- they made everything look nice and hid all of the ugliness.

Peter January 16, 2023 - 8:10 pm

The Google Street View camera car did not go down Nolan’s Lane during its last trip to the area in 2018, and I believe Google’s software alerts it to the presence of private roads.


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