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Historic Cast Iron Vault Lights

Cast iron vault lights also known as pavement lights are cast iron sidewalk panels, stair treads and risers with embedded glass prisms.  Before electric lighting was widely available cast iron vault lights were used to provide lighting to subway vault and basement spaces.  The practical necessity of expanding the use of basement spaces by redirecting daylight from the street through the sidewalk inspired inventors and fabricators to proliferate designs for glass and cast iron frames.  Glassian.org offers us an exhaustive listing of the makers and styles of the past and we offer some images here of historic cast iron still in use in New York City.  Our modern designs for lighted cast iron panels, treads and risers take inspiration from these historic originals. 

Historic Cast Iron Vault Lights

Solid Cast Iron Panels Supporting Vault Lights

Solid cast iron panels were used historically to fill in difficult spaces adjacent to lighted cast iron panels or to evoke the style of the vault panel lights.  Cast iron is easily cast with attractive and functional designs that evoke historical patterns.  A sensitive restoration of a cast iron vault panel system can selectively include solid cast iron panels to mitigate costs and modern building performance requirements.

Historic Vault Light Makers Marks

This gallery shows some of the historic makers marks on cast iron vault lights in New York City.  Glassian and Insights About Light and Glass both give accurate and exhaustive histories of these makers and the technical development of glass prisms for lighting subway vaults.