By now everyone and their dog has taken a selfie at Urban Light, the LACMA landmark composed of 202 glowing street lamps (which went half dark earlier this year for repairs). Subvert expectations: Go somewhere that's hidden inside the austere Department of Public Works building downtown and check out 100 years' worth of L.A. streetlights. Open one Friday morning a month — by appointment only — the Bureau of Street Lighting Historic Museum opened in February 2015 and showcases some of the beautifully designed street lamps that have illuminated our fair city over the course of the past century. Up close, the lights are surprisingly large and ornate, and they're all here, from the earliest light attached directly to a power line to the latest LED variety, art deco treasures with dragons and fruit designs, the Hollywood Special, the Five Globe Llewellyn, the Paragon Senior and a dozen or so “ornamentals,” all glowing for your pleasure. The city has around 220,000 streetlights in all, and they come in 400 different types, so next time you're outside at night, take a moment to look up — plenty of these classics will still be hard at work when the sun goes down.
Credit: James Bartlett