Rockaway Blvd at Guy Brewer Blvd
Cast Iron Lamppost Archives

Rockaway Blvd. facing northwest, just off Guy R. Brewer Blvd, across from JFK Airport, from 1992. This is the absolute last cast iron pole left, on the last major street within NYC to loose it's incandescent fixtures. It was well into the 80's before the last stretch of Rockaway Blvd., from roughly Farmers Boulevard to the city line, got sodium fixtures in place of the incandescent cups, gumballs & bells.
One stretch, passing JFK's eastern runways, still had mini versions of the cast iron pole in my Gumball photo (temporarily unavailable), many still with their gumballs. Even rarer, some of those minis were twinlampers.
If they had only held out a few more years, the retro craze might've saved them. They even survived a horrific disaster, when an Eastern Airlines 727 crashed into the boulevard in 1975. They couldn't survive the bureaucrat who sadly discovered that 20 years of predecessors had somehow forgotten to replace them.
This corvington style pole still stands to this day, still with it's little signs pointing to the Midtown Tunnel and Triboro Bridge. The last time any attention was paid to the pole, other than to change it's bulbs, the closer Whitestone & Throgs Neck Bridges probably hadn't yet been opened. The old bell fixture still works.

northUPDATE 11/99: Still standing as the millenium draws to a close, but twisted towards the side and looking to be in pretty deep trouble.
UPDATE 07/2000: Still twisted towards the side and looking to be in pretty deep trouble, but standing nonetheless.
One highly hyped movie over the summer of 2000 was Shaft, starring Samuel L. Jackson, advertised on the billboard just past Guy R. Brewer Boulevard. Guy R. Brewer the person was a southern Queens big-wig from our generation's days of yore. His memorial boulevard used to be New York Boulevard. I've traveled along Brewer numerous times between here and the Belt Pkwy, but it was still New York Boulevard the last time I rode on it north into Jamaica, sometime back in 1971.


I suppose it was inevitable. The days of cast iron on Rockaway Boulevard, which for so many years remained the last great bastion of these classic pieces of street furniture, have finally reached their logical end, as must all things, living and not, in this great existence of ours.
Kevin Walsh and I drove by on 9/14/2002 to check on its condition for the first time in two years, after finishing our photo tour of nearby Addisleigh Park. Despite its listing condition two years earlier and its always precarious position, given the heavy truck traffic in the area, it was not a vehicle hit that did this venerable old sage in, but a sewer project running right through its path. Given that the base was left, one can only hope that the shaft, mast and fixture were carted away for either rehabilitation or recasting, and that once the new drain lines are in place, our beloved pole will be returned to its post, to perhaps defy all the odds and serve out a full century.

Looking north and south, not much has changed, as this warehouse, airport feeder section is pretty much set in its ways, as it has been since JFK was known as Idlewild. The industrial building just to the north has had a little refacing done over the last ten years and the ads change regularly of course on the billboards. Looking south, the little trailer serving up lunch for area workers is still at the corner, and likely the proprietor witnessed the pole's demise. Then again, he might never have even been aware of its existence. The current advertiser on the closest billboard has apparently pandered to the Ebonics culture in the naming of his/her store. I would like to think that if I were a resident of this area, as a number of unfortunate families still are in the ex hotel turned homeless shelter, visible a couple of blocks north, I'd take immense offense to this stupid name, and to the fact that it is so in the face of their captive kids. Then again, were I in such a position, maybe I'd be too beaten down and put upon to care about anything other than what my kids are going to eat that night and wear the next day. Their daily struggle kind of places the fate of an old piece of scrap iron in proper perspective.

© 1997-2018, Jeff Saltzman. All rights reserved.