Steampunk walk lights


The finials on the brackets and the design of the post reflect the same Victorian aesthetic of the new street lamps on Mass. Ave.

New pedestrian signals being installed as part of the Mass. Ave. project in East Arlington are architecturally similar to the Victorian-style pedestrian-scale lighting in the business district.

Those lights might almost be actual gas lamps, if one ignores the electric light source and the inaccurate configuration of ladder bars.

There is something intriguing, however, about seeing the same ornate wrought-iron motifs in an electric walk signal, as though a monorail were tricked out to resemble a steam locomotive. Think of it as the steampunk look.

The fixtures are probably of coated aluminum or other material cast into gas-lamp shapes.

Other street furniture, such as benches and trash cans, are the same color but reflect a more contemporary design. It would have been fun to see the Victorian aesthetic applied to bicycle racks.

New singlas at the corner of Foster and Mass. Ave. are live and functioning.

New signals at the corner of Foster and Mass. Ave. are live and functioning.

The lamps as of this writing are not yet turned on, but the pedestrian and traffic signals at Foster and Linwood are fully functional.

It’s the only place so far where the old signals have been removed.

The walk lights include thoroughly modern features, new to East Arlington, such as a countdown and walk buttons that emit an audible signal.

Activation of other signals, not all of which have been installed yet, may await the striping of new lanes this fall. At Foster and Linwood the lane configuration won’t change much and the new signals give the same instructions in nearly the same place.

Once the new traffic signals are activated, the old fixtures can be removed and the final bits of sidewalk will be poured.

The pedestrian signal shown, which combines a traffic signal with a walk light suspended between two brackets, is one of two designs in use. The other simply mounts a walk light atop a similarly ornate pole.

Historical note: Victorian London experimented briefly with a pedestrian signal that included semaphore arms and gas lamps. The resulting explosion halted the use of pedestrian signals for 50 years.

Steampunk enough for you?

Click here for recent construction news.

New pedestrian signals feature a countdown clock.

New pedestrian signals feature a countdown clock.

1 comment so far

  1. Daniel Rosenberg on

    Is that really a downward pointing spike at head level?
    Also, notice the lever arm on that two point suspension.
    Wicked bad design.

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