Next time you stop in the intersection of Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 23rd Street to gawk at the Flatiron Building, take a look around to spy one of the 100 historical lamp posts still in extant within Greater New York.
Looking north toward Empire State Building. Madison Square Park to the right. Flat Iron Building behind the photographer.
Designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1997, this design, called the Arc Lamp, may have been first installed as one of the first truly ornamental electrified cast-iron posts on Fifth Avenue between Washington Square and 59th Street in 1892, according to the LPC report. Some of the posts have survived by accident, while others have been preserved by the special effort of the Friends of Cast-Iron Architecture.
The New York Times reported in 1892:
Fifth Avenue is to be lighted with handsome electric lamps .... The Edison Illuminating Company will furnish the light on an improved system, consisting of a new style of arc lights used on a low-tension circuit. ... Fifty cast-iron poles, 20 feet in height, and each carrying two electric lamps of about 1,000 candle power. .. will be ornamental in character, as will also the lamps, which will have artistic ground-glass globes and brass trimmings .... The avenue is likely to present a very brilliant spectacle, as there will be 100 lights.
Two photos from 1990s of same lamp post.
Left: looking west with the Toy Building (location of today's Eataly) in the background.
Right: Looking north toward Empire State Building. Madison Square Park to the right. Flat Iron Building behind the photographer.