Saturday, March 7, 2009

A street lamp to love


Pentax K10D
SMC Pentax-DA 50-200 at 88mm
1/4000 sec. f5.6
ISO 400

Thomas Tallmadge, a Prairie School-trained architect who lived in Evanston, designed the Chicago suburb's street lights during the 1920s. Every once in a while anti-crime interests urge the city to install brighter lights, but Evanstonians always say no -- they cherish the distinctive Tallmadge design and its soft illumination.


Mike P. said...

One faction of the anti-crime forces want the bigger / brighter / industrial looking lights. But the simple solution is better trimming of the lower branches of the trees. I believe that there have also been brighter elements put in the some or all of the current lights.

The talmadge fixures frequently rise up into the tree canopy, such that the light does not reflect down, up, or sideways. While this makes for a nice night light for the squirrels, it doesn't do much for crime prevention.

I am (was) something of an expert on this. In one of my multiple roles with the Evanston PD, I was a Crime Analyst. I made it a point to go out in the midnight hour to various neighborhoods and observed / mapped lighting and how it related to overnight burglaries. Tree trimming was the easiest thing that could be done to improve lighting. The officer I was riding with and I observed lights that were in the clear and lights that were obstructed by leaves and branches and the difference it made to visibility. (He happened to be on the burglary detail and was making a point of slinking in the shadows watching for bad guys). I was amazed at the difference in the amount of light on the street when trees were trimmed.

However, the neighbors / dog walkers, even around midnight, were alert. Dispatch knew we were in a particular area in an unmarked unit and before she put out the suspicious person call to all units, she asked over the radio if it was us, a black guy riding with a white guy in a dark sedan, cruising slowly through the 'hood, sometimes with lights out. Neighborhood awareness also helps prevent crime.

Get the city to trim those parkway trees!! It makes a difference.

Robyn said...

I would love to see these lit - any chance of you going back to take an evening shot?



Good idea, Robyn. If it ever stops raining and we don't need Noah to come by with his ark, I'll go outside after dark and take a photo.

Honor said...

As a new comer to Evanston (from CA.), I am delighted to see so much homage paid to the architects of the past. The lovely Tallmadge light posts (and there is one right outside my living room window, lucky me!!) are treasures, and I hope that the City will continue to maintain them. Such elements, along with the beautiful street trees, the stately homes and more humble bungalows, all add to the community in such a positive way. Thank you for documenting Evanston with your beautiful photographs.

Anonymous said...

I was very fortunate to find a manufacturer a few years ago of an exact copy of the evanston streetlite. I was able to purchase one and it has stood stately in my front yard for the last 15 years. Two weeks ago I purchased a second one and will put it in the backyard. I think they look fantastic.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

We are looking for the Tallmadge light for our condo building. Can you kindly advise who makes these? We have been looking forever and can't find anyone who makes it!

Thank you!
Mary Wangler
Cell: 847-409-1235

Henry Kisor said...

Try -- they have a luminaire that looks like a dead ringer for the Tallmadge.

It's at

It's the one at upper left.