Newel Post Lamps in Lviv

Before electricity, stairwells were lit up by candles, gas lamps, and other types of lighting. Lanterns were hung from hooks or poles high in the central area of the stairwell, or sometimes the stairwell’s newel posts, due to their prime location, functioned also as lamp posts.

Early newel posts burned oil or paraffin, but eventually were replaced by gas lighting. And ultimately, with the onset of electricity, electric wires replaced the gas supply tubes to bring electric light to the spaces.

Newel posts lamps came in huge array of styles, and often there was a glass shade around the flame.

The newel post lamps that I’ve found in Lviv, however, are quite different than the examples I’ve been able to find online. And unfortunately, I haven’t had any luck finding information about Lviv’s interior lamp posts, so I’m not exactly sure of the details of how they worked.

I believe that the examples that I found date to the late 19th-early 20th centuries and burned gas. I’m not sure if they were ever repurposed to provide electric lighting.  Furthermore, many of them have parts missing and I wonder whether they had glass shades. I also wonder whether they could have acted as holders for lanterns, or if it was all one system.

But in any case, these have been out of use for decades.

In this stairwell, there is also a lamp post on the second floor, but the top part is missing.


My guess it that a lantern was hung from the hook on this post

Ukrainian translation of this post can be found here.

8 thoughts on “Prewar Painted Stripes in Lviv

  1. Thank you Areta for another important and timely blog post on the challenges and issues of Jewish heritage and recovery of memory. We are hopeful that soon the headstones used as basement steps in a courtyard in Lviv (Hałycka Płoszcza 15 / Galitskaya 15) will be recovered. The Lviv Volunteer Center is working behind the scenes to make this happen, with the support of the Lviv Jewish community and others.

  2. This is the part that blows my mind: “During periods of transition, the records occasionally show the use or mix of two languages—Church Slavonic and Latin, or Latin and Ukrainian…”
    SO COOL!
    Thanks, Areta!

  3. > The largest and best-preserved fragment of Lviv’s medieval defense structures is the Hlyniany Gate (1618)

    Areta, Hlyniany Gate and wall around it have been renovated.

    There used to be some residential building in its place (behind the now-demolished fire station in the foreground)

    Building, close-up

    The wall looked like this

  4. Any idea what the Yiddish is on the hat sign on the right? I can make out most of the letters, but my Yiddish isn’t good enough to fill in the blanks. I used to pass by that wall frequently on my way to a friends house, but he has moved since then. It’s still my favorite ghost sign, though 🙂

  5. Kudos to you, Aretha. I came across your blog from a repost from one of your diaspora Ukrainian language from Pre-war Galicia words versus accepted and widely used Post-war words for a long list of foods. I too grew up in the diaspora in Cleveland. I was in Lviv in November of this soon to be last year. Although Lviv is my Dad’s ancestral city, I had family from Central Ukraine and grew up hearing both dialects. I think the blog was from 2014 or 2015. I wanted to leave a comment on your new blog and commend you for the interesting sociolinguistic and cultural discussions you have initiated. Nice to see that you are now in the field doing your research first-hand.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *