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Here’s what the Philippe Starck streetlamps look like turning on

Nearing 20 years old, this time-lapse video shows what they look like when they swivel down just before dusk

In those heady late ’90s dot-com days of San Francisco, the cosmos flowed freely and the Kozmo orders seemed like they would never end. And during that time, the nifty Parisian lampposts were installed on Howard between Third and Fourth.

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.

Feast your eyes upon the Howard Street lights coming down in this time-lapse video.

turning on: #philippestarck street lights on howard and 3rd

A video posted by Brock Keeling (@brockkeeling) on

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.

The lights still shining brightly today, and decidedly much prettier than the impending lampposts coming to Van Ness Avenue.