Sunday, May 09, 2010

Red Car Light (Lancaster Object 004)

Since 1929, the entry way into Lancaster was the new train station, which moved a mile north on Queen Street from the 1860s station. A couple of routes (222 and 72) come from the North to either end of the station and link up in the most anti-urban solution. The pedestrian arriving to the city by train must fight the cars if she wants to walk into town. The automobile's priority at this knot is most evident by the dealerships that surround it. The pedestrian commuter has no option but to walk through the sale parking lots that abut the multi-lane traffic roads without a sidewalk. It is in this traffic knot, that I picked up this fragment.

Fallen off from a zooming vehicle, this must be a special light. Its conical shape takes us back 50 years in car design, unsuccessfully recycled in models like the PT Cruiser. I had it sitting on my office desk when my student, Paul picked it up with curiosity and confidence. We agreed that it could not belong to any car designed in the last 20 years. It is not blobby enough. Its geometrical autonomy removes it from any car. What is it then? Maybe part of a trailer? An emergency light? It's a cab light.

Paul belongs to the future of Franklin & Marshall, a new demographic of immigrants that don't come from privilege (I thank my colleague Dean Hammer for this idea). Unlike the great majority of other F&M students, Paul has done manual labor. He was worked on cars and could comprehend better than anyone else what Le Corbusier meant by comparing the 1907 Humbert with the Temples at Paestum and the 1921 Delage Grand Sport with the Parthenon at Athens, see Towards a New Architecture (Paris, 1923), pp. 180-181.

Although designed for blinking and great visibility, the red car light becomes a thought piece. Multiple modes of movement from foot, to train, to automobile come to bear. They do not directly enter the classroom but we don't enter the classroom without them. The electrical portal for the light, below, reads "Quick Eye, Falconer, NY." I thank my die-hard archaeology friend (see comment below) for taking the research a step further. What I have collected is a cab marker light, a light accessory that people fix on their pickup trucks to ornament/highlight the cab (see example here).

Lancaster Object 004
Red car light
Location: 40° 3'13.50"N, 76°18'33.47"W
Date: April 15, 2010

1 comment:

Bill Caraher said...


There is a typology for everything. My guess is that this a "cab marker light" manufactured by Truck-Lite, a company based in Falconer, NY (42 7'13.5"N, 79 11'5.39").

Here's link:


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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States