Designed by French designer Philippe Starck, who has reimagined everything from windmills to toilet brushes, the lampposts stand ramrod straight up during the day, only to swivel down at dusk, then back up again at 7 am. But only the lucky get to witness these lights drop down. Until now.So, funny story.
Though sleek and contemporary, the lights did not cost the city a dime. According to a 2010 New York Times article, "The lamps were priced at $22,000 each, but San Francisco received them at no cost because JCDecaux wanted to display its products at the June 1997 U.S. Conference of Mayors at the Moscone Center."
In 1996, then mayor Willie Brown, during a visit to Paris, became enamored with the lamps during a visit to the JCDecaux factory in Plaisir, France. When he came back to the city, he wanted a few of them installed. And back then, whatever Brown wanted, he received. Free of charge, no less.
Remember that time someone offered to give me the Moscone BSOD-o-Tron?
Well, a couple of years ago I was chatting with a friend who works at SFDPW about the never-ending "9 San Bruno Rapid Project", which took away our parklet for over a year. My friend mentioned that the sidewalk-widening was also going to mean some reconfiguration of street lights on 11th Street, which led to me lamenting the loss of the Starck street lamps. My friend said, "Yeah, they're not planning on re-installing those. All of them are just sitting in one of our warehouses."
My immediate reaction was, "OMG, if they're not putting them back on Howard, how do we get those re-installed on 11th Street? Can we redirect 'fix the 11th Street lamps' to 'install the Starck lamps here' instead??"
I didn't really expect anything to come of that, but a couple weeks later my friend said, "Well I asked around, and... one of my superiors said in a round-about, 'I was never here, this conversation did not happen' kind of way, 'What's it worth to you for one of those to fall off the truck?'"
I didn't pursue it, because "falling off the truck" is not a great way to get a street lamp installed on a public street. But that sure wasn't the answer I expected.
Incidentally, you can still get a 27" tall table lamp version for only $6,600. And that's the "used and slightly broken" price.
Philippe Starck Table Lamp for JCDecaux. In 1992, Philippe Starck worked with JCDecaux to develop a revolutionary street lamp, Streetlight, a striking yet functional solution to illuminating the city streets. With its pivoting head rotating from the vertical to the horizontal, the light is positioned upright during the day, then slowly moves to an angled position to light up the street as night sets in. When turned on arm extends just like the street lights. This timeless design is currently installed in 10 locations across Denmark, France, Uruguay and USA.
Arm goes up, but does not return, has to be done manually. Wear consistent with age and use.
Just in case you were laboring under the illusion that I am hard to shop for.