Certainly one of the most ghastly, of New York City's ugly lampposts, are the aluminum monstrosities, that I took to calling The Bigloops. Site contributor Larry Rojak fills a major info gap, providing the following background:
"big loop" lamppost (the gooseneck style) is called
a "SLECO" (pronounced SLEE-koe). It was manufactured
by a company named, appropriately enough, Sleco (an acrynym for
Street Light Equipment Company). I have Sleco literature from
the early 1960s which promotes these poles as being safe because,
when knocked down, their flat cross-section allows a car to continue
travelling over the pole without ripping out the underside of
the car. The only problem with the Sleco pole is that those goose-neck
arms are held on by a bolt that tends to loosen up over the years;
you can see that most survivors have stainless steel banding
applied to keep the arms from falling off."
They were the brainchild of industrial designer Donald Deskey, on commission by NYC in 1958 to develope a new prototype streetlight standard. The late 50's had seen a parade of experimental streetlighting standards, as the city struggled to come up with something to replace the lovely old cast iron poles, that the heartless city deemed unworthy to share the mercury era.
In the 60's, they began their nefarious invasion. As the crookarm
masted poles were given mercury fixtures, many of them got new
mast arms that arched up in a quarter loop.
I suppose either the city thought the higher lamps would throw
more light on the streets, or the looparm maker threw some bread
on the DOT officials and made the taxpayers wallets lighter.
The purpose of the even more sinister Bigloops, I assume, was the fact that they'd never need painting. As much of a pain as it might have been to paint the crookarm's poles, the cast iron fixtures must've needed even more care.
The Bigloops became the light de riguer for most of NYC's major highways. The crookarms that graced many of the post war expressways, were removed in favor of the more durable Biggies.
No more lane closures
due to pole painting. Generally, this replacement was part of
the changeover to mercuries. However, some highways were very
late in getting the merc vapor fixtures. This led to strange
One of the oddest, were the Bigloops that began appearing on the Belt Pkwy. which links southern Brooklyn with Queens. Being an old parkway, part of a network of like roads, meant to be more bucolic than practical, the Belt had funny old wooden lamposts, designed to make the parkway look like a long driveway in a park.
Like the Whitestone posts, many of NYC's wooden parkway poles survived by adapting merc fixtures, but the major portion of the Belt never got them. It remained incandescent well into the 80's. As they did on most other highways, the Bigloops were called into action whenever an old woodie got knocked down. But unlike anywhere else in the city, these Bigloops had the tiny little old cuplights hung on them.
The last of these finally disappeared in 1993, on the westbound Belt's Cross Bay Blvd. exit, but not before I immortalized it on film. I always thought that looked very funny. Bigloops with cuplights. You had to be there.