THE LAST LAMP POST
By Rick Hampson and Stephen Taylor
A piece of Radburn history has been lost.
Radburn’s last original, in-situ PSE&G cast iron lamp post – one that was saved years ago through the efforts of a feisty preservationist – has been removed from the Townley-Reading path and replaced by a standard-issue, very unhistoric-looking utility pole.
A spokesman for PSE&G, Anthony Garrihy, said the utility’s Streetlight Department had the pole replaced “because it was no longer possible or safe to properly maintain it.’’ He said the work crew “found it necessary to cut it into pieces during the removal, and the pieces have been sent for disposal.’’ The Radburn Association says PSE&G did not inform it of the move.
Radburn historian Larry Koplik says the original street lights, which were installed around 1929, were owned and maintained by the electric utility (as are those in place today). Radburn’s developer, the City Housing Corporation, apparently may have paid for part of their original cost.
The lamp posts are considered public "street lighting" for the paths, which are themselves municipal rights-of-way and property of the Borough of Fair Lawn.
R Park Path (Cropped from Karl Mydans, 1935)
What happened to Radburn’s other original lampposts? Some were said to have been relocated to the Great Falls park in Paterson, others to the Village of Ridgewood.
The Great Falls lamps are cast iron, but appear quite different from Radburn lamps (Google Maps is the source of this photo).
Two cast-iron poles, apparently Radburn 1929 originals, were found in the basement of the Grange and installed on the pool deck as part of the B-pool replacement project.
Although the light poles PSE&G has been installing are taller and brighter than the 1929 versions, they suffer by almost any aesthetic measure. The old poles were delicately detailed, with fluted bases. They featured "PS" (for "Public Service") cast into the service panel at the base of the pole (Below is a closeup of the last Reading path lamp).
The original poles also supported signs identifying the roads associated with the paths. They also are long gone, and have been replaced by signs made as part of an Eagle Scout project.
Original Radburn lamps lit the perimeter of the Plaza Building as well (Karl Mydans, 1935, cropped).
Helen Harden, who lived at 18A Townley Road, died years ago after moving to Tom’s River.