New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, Department of Design and Construction Commissioner (DDC) David Burney, Assembly Member Keith L. T. Wright and the 125th Street Business Improvement District (BID) today announced the installation of the first City Light, a distinctive new street light fixture design, the first of 64 improved street lights to be installed along the West 125th Street corridor in the next year. The sleek new design from architect Thomas Phifer and Partners, lighting designer Office for Visual Interaction and engineering firm Werner Sobek was the winner of an international design competition held by DDC, and seamlessly fits the world-famous Harlem streetscape while providing crisper light through light-emitting diodes (LED) and complementing recent changes to the corridor. The street lighting upgrades were long-supported by the 125th Street BID and funded with a $556,000 grant from Assembly Member Wright as well as $1.5 million from the city for upgrades to area traffic signals. The City Lights will be installed between Fifth Avenue and Morningside Avenue, replacing the existing, 1960s-era design and improving the quality of life for thousands of residents and visitors while aiding area small businesses. The Commissioners and Assembly Member were joined at the event by representatives of Community Boards 9 and 10 and local elected officials.
“These sleek, first-of-their-kind City Lights are bringing a new luster to the streetscape and ensuring the heart of Harlem continues to shine brightly,” said DOT Commissioner Sadik-Khan. “Living, working and shopping in the midst of 125th Street now becomes an even more illuminating experience.”
“This ‘street light of the future’ was the product of an international design competition and we’re delighted that it’s coming to 125th Street. Designed by award-winning architect Tom Phifer, with lighting designers OVI, this new LED light pole adds a truly modern fixture to DOT’s stable of street fixtures. The new pole has a slim, elegant design and the LED lamp uses 40 percent less energy than the standard lamp. LED lamps also offer a more even distribution of light, with better color and less upward light pollution than older technology lamps, all of which make for a safer and more pleasant street environment,” said DDC Commissioner Burney.
“After almost ten years of advocating for this project, I am delighted that 125th Street will finally be illuminated in a manner befitting its brilliance,” said Assembly Member Wright. “I want to thank the New York City Department of Transportation for all of their efforts to bring this project to life, just in time for the holidays. Let there be lights!”
“A special thank you to DOT and Assemblyman Keith Wright. The installation of the City Light is another programmatic milestone for the 125th Street Business Improvement District. While our ongoing action steps are to ensure public safety and sanitation, we are also pursuing a prioritized streetscape improvement program. The City Light is the first step towards phased public development that is consistent with the private sector building to help 125th Street’s identity. It improves the pedestrian experience and enhances our efforts for creating partnerships with local artists and art programs. A win/win in many areas,” said 125th Street BID President and CEO Barbara Askins.
Installation of the additional 63 City Lights – 59 with single bulbs and 4 dual fixtures – is expected to begin next summer, following the bidding of the contract. The DOT is also working to bring the enhanced design to the Flatiron District, and Lower East Side and the Garment Center. The City Lights are just latest improvement to Harlem streets, including significant pedestrian safety projects in the area and planned improvements for pedestrian wayfinding and more reliable bus service along 125th Street.
Each new fixture will include LED, providing a higher-quality, more natural light and continuing the previously announced conversion of all existing 250,000 street lights to the newest technology, reducing maintenance costs, electricity usage and the city’s carbon footprint. The 125th Street corridor will join previously-upgraded areas including Eastern Parkway between Grand Army Plaza and Ralph Avenue in Brooklyn, on Manhattan’s FDR Drive, along Central Park’s pedestrian paths and on the distinctive “necklace” lights that adorn the cables of East River Bridges, continuing the administration’s application of energy-efficient technology to optimize and green city operations. For more on the City Light design and all DOT projects, visit nyc.gov/dot.