I recently went to an interesting exhibit of old lamppost photos at the City Reliquary Museum in Williamsburg. Curated by Kevin Walsh of Forgotten New York, the exhibit consisted of a large collection of MTA employee, Bob Mulero's photographs, drawings, and engineering mockups of old lampposts throughout the city. It is a wonderful exhibition that will be going on for the next couple of months and Bob was kind enough to send me these lamppost photos to put on the blog.
Now I thought I was into lampposts, but Bob takes it to another level with his knowledge and passion, and the collection of photographs on exhibit only scratches the surface of what he has at home.
But an unfortunate theme of the exhibit was attached to the word forgotten. A majority of these old, majestic lampposts had been long removed, knocked over by cars and carted away as scraps.
So why is it important to try and save these old lampposts when we can just install shiny new replicas? Well first of all, in my opinion, a brand new lamppost is not nearly as attractive as an old weathered one, which seems to age like a fine wine. These lampposts give us a link to the city's past. The cars on the streets or the outfits of the pedestrians might change, and the buildings might get taller, but it's nice to have certain constants to the city, something that remains.
For instance, this old Bishops Crook cast-iron lamppost from the 1890's, now a leaning and dying relic of the Lower East Side's tenement past. It is one of the few relics left in the area that can give you the feeling of the old narrow streets filled with ratty tenements.
But the ultimate problem seems to be these damn cars. Apparently, they keep knocking down the old lampposts. It's an extremely tricky situation that doesn't really seem to have a clear cut solution. Any ideas?