CURVED MAST, Bronxdale

by Kevin Walsh

THERE’S relics aplenty at the very same corner in Bronxdale where I highlit the NYW&B RR’s symbolic caduceus. I love NYC’s remaining curved-mast and bracketed streetlamps. This specimen at Matthews and Brady Avenues in Bronxdale is one of the last of its type. When first installed in the Fab Fifties it likely carried a Westinghouse “cuplight” incandescent fixture, and it has also gone through a mercury phase in the 1960s when it supported a GE M400 (the likely occurrence) or a Westinghouse OV 25; then from the 1970s through the 2000s a bright yellow sodium; and from the mid-2010s, a bright white light-emitting diode (LED). On this specimen, note the decommissioned fire alarm light bracket (as well as the decommissioned alarm) and the mini-cobra that was added in the last couple of decades.

These were the very first masts that appeared on the octagonal, or 8-sided, lamppost shafts first introduced by the then-Department of Traffic in 1950. For the past 73 years, they have been the staple lamppost in NYC, though challenged by cylindrical poles, the outrageous Donald Deskeys, and resurgent Corvingtons and Bishop Crooks since the 1980s. The very first of them appeared under the 3rd Avenue El in midtown, and had the bracket and curved mast seen here. However their heyday was short. The straight mast sand bracket, as well as the cobra neck in 1960 and double mast, moved them out, and new curved masts haven’t been installed since the mid-to late 1950s.

I would estimate that a couple of dozen remain around town. They can sometimes be found under overpasses, as the curved shape gives them access to places the straight masts can’t go. Someday, when there’s absolutely nothing to do, I may make up a map with all the still existent members of this rapidly dwindling tribe.

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Alan May 15, 2023 - 8:25 am

I recall seeing examples of the curved mast but the bracket was missing.

Did the double guy wire curved mast traffic light poles also start appearing in 1950?

Kevin Walsh May 15, 2023 - 9:29 am

1953 I believe.


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