About This Item
original early 20th century cast brass single electric new york city underground subway station ceiling fixture designed and fabricated specifically for subway stations by the russell & stoll company of new york city, ny. several variations of this fixture were used in the subway stations. single or double pendant lights were employed in larger spaces, while the smaller wall and ceiling-mount fixtures were used in and around the station platforms. several fixtures exist today (see photographs) in numerous stations, but have been painted over and no longer are used for illumination purposes. russell and stool were known for there durable fixtures used in harsh environmental settings. the single fixture depicted in this listing retains the original bronze plating, with a nicely aged surface patina. the distinctive pivoting “craddle” or bulb guard provided added security and/or protection of the incandescent light bulbs. other fixtures found, contain springs or coils and/or cages to protect the delicate bare bulbs. manufacturer markings are embossed along the fixture and dark chocolate brown ceramic socket. limited quantity available. a demonstration for an underground transit system in new york city was first built by alfred ely beach in 1869. his beach pneumatic transit only extended 312 feet under broadway in lower manhattan and exhibited his idea for a subway propelled by pneumatic tube technology. the tunnel was never extended for political and financial reasons, although extensions had been planned to take the tunnel southward to the battery and northwards towards the harlem river. the beach subway was demolished when the bmt broadway line was built in the 1910’s; thus, it was not integrated into the new york city subway system. the great blizzard of 1888 helped demonstrate the benefits of an underground transportation system. the first underground line of the subway opened on october 27, 1904, almost 35 years after the opening of the first elevated line in new york city, which became the irt ninth avenue line. the oldest structure still in use opened in 1885 as part of the bmt lexington avenue line in brooklyn and is now part of the bmt jamaica line. the oldest right-of-way, that of the bmt west end line, was in use in 1863 as a steam railroad called the brooklyn, bath and coney island rail road. by the time the first subway opened, the lines had been consolidated into two privately owned systems, the brooklyn rapid transit company (brt, later brooklyn–manhattan transit corporation, bmt) and the interborough rapid transit company (irt). the city was closely involved: all lines built for the irt and most other lines built or improved for the brt after 1913 were built by the city and leased to the companies. the first line of the city-owned and operated independent subway system (ind) opened in 1932; this system was intended to compete with the private systems and allow some of the elevated railways to be torn down, but kept within the core of the city due to the low amount of startup capital provided to the municipal board of transportation, the later mta, by the state. this required it to be run ‘at cost’, necessitating fares up to double the five-cent fare popular at the time. in 1940, the two private systems were bought by the city and some elevated lines closed immediately while others closed soon after. from 1901 to 1908, architects john l. heins, christopher grant lafarge, and squire j. vickers designed the first subway stations, control houses, power substations and ornamental kiosks, in the popular beaux-arts style, evoking classical architecture using ceramics, metal, and wood. these men created the decorative motifs that adorned the subways, allowing each station to be unique while contributing to its overall style. because heins & lafarge began working more than a year after subway construction began, their primary duty was to decorate and make beautiful the stark utilitarian spaces built by engineers achieved by using ceramic tiles, bronze light fixtures, mosaics ornamental ironwork, and terra cotta reliefs in the form of unique station plaques used to identify and adorn each station. because heins & lafarge began working more than a year after subway construction began, their primary duty was to decorate and make beautiful the stark utilitarian spaces built by engineers achieved by using ceramic tiles, bronze light fixtures, mosaics ornamental ironwork, and terra cotta reliefs in the form of unique station plaques used to identify and adorn each station. because an immense amount of ceramics had to be designed, fabricated, and installed in less than three years, numerous companies were hired to produce these pieces, including, but not limited to, the grueby faience company of boston, atlantic terra cotta of staten island and new jersey, and rookwood pottery company of cincinnati. in 1907, heins died of meningitis. though he would work as an architect until his death in 1938, lafarge worked on the subway only until 1908. architect, squire j. vickers, was then hired and become the architect responsible for new york’s subway station’s design elements for the next four decades. in general, each subway station finish consisted of a sanitary cove base that made the transition from floor to wall, upon which rested a brick or marble wainscot for the first two and one-half feet or so of wall area. this wainscot was applied to withstand the hard usage that the lower wall would be subjected to. the wainscot was completed by either a brick or marble cap, and the remainder of the wall area was covered with three by six-inch white glass tiles, completed near the ceiling by a cornice or frieze. the wall area was divided into fifteen foot panels, the same spacing as the platform columns, by the use of colored tiles or mosaic “in order to relieve the monotony that a plain-tiled surface would present. the full station name appeared on large tablets of either mosaic tile, faience, or terra-cotta at frequent intervals, while smaller name plaques were incorporated into the cornice every fifteen feet. sharp corners were eliminated and junctions between walls were curved to prevent chipping and facilitate cleaning. ceilings were finished in one-inch thick white plaster applied to wire lath hung on channel irons at intervals of twelve inches. the channel irons were secured to beams and girders with metal clips, with a minimum one-inch air space left between the finished ceiling and the structural roof. the lath and plaster either followed the contours of the jack arches, with ornamental moldings in low relief accentuating the beams, or were suspended flat with ornamental moldings dividing them into panels.