by Kevin Walsh

THE Donald Deskey lamppost, introduced in 1958, was a very adaptable and modular beast. Its most frequent use was the single-arm mast, and though SLECO stopped producing them around 1980, hundreds can still be seen on NYC streets. They were once very frequently seen on NYC parkways and expressways; in the 1970s, there was the unusual pairing of the Deskey lamp with Westinghouse AK-10 cuplights. Probably the most famed Deskey “special” was the bronze, twin-masted versions installed on 5th Avenue in 1965, only a handful of which remain today.

Especially wide streets received extended mast Deskeys, which, in their single versions, sported two masts instead of one; in their Twin versions, they had a lengthy crossbar between the two masts. But here, on the Bruckner Expressway in Schuylerville just west of its junction with the Throgs Neck Expressway, you have a run of double mast dwarf extended Deskeys, supported on platforms jutting out from the expressway wall in the open cut; other, slightly taller Dwarves can be found at the guardrails elsewhere.

This is the rarest Deskey permutation in the city; I can’t remember another location where they are employed.

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Alan February 9, 2023 - 10:08 am

Funny thing, I never noticed Deskeys until 1964. They were on Church Avenue in East Flatbush/Flatbush. As for 5th Avenue, a very special street (as in the book “Fifth Avenue – The Best Address,” by Jerry Patterson), I’m sure the installation of mercury lights was delayed (relative to adjacent streets) so that designers could come up with memorable poles and masts. Perhaps they should have kept the old 5th Av double-hung style (of which only a few originals are left) and put in mercury bulbs. Of course now “retro” versions (I call them “faux”) are all over the place, but I thing no “retros” are on 5th Avenue itself.

William Armstrong February 10, 2023 - 10:02 pm

I had no idea about these lights when I worked for Donald’s son Michael. He never mentioned them.


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