When I see the Chris Burden installation at LACMA, I wonder, Where are L.A.’s oldest streetlamps?


Illustration by Jason Schneider

Let Ask Chris shine some light on this. Most of the 202 lamps that make up LACMA’s landmark Urban Light installation are from the 1920s and ’30s, just babes compared with the five-globe Llewellyn models from 1905 that dot the plaza on the east side of Main Street near City Hall. The poles are classical Corinthian, with decorative bases, fluted shafts, and acanthus leaf capitals. The Melrose Hill neighborhood has some beautiful art nouveau fixtures designed in 1910, and Carroll Avenue is home to a collection of scavenged lamps from around the same era. The Bureau of Street Lighting maintains a museum of vintage streetlamps, but alas, it’s not open to the public.