Soon after the new year, Jonathan Lipsmeyer noticed something strange and new at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Court Street in Brooklyn, where two of the borough’s busier commercial strips meet.
Sloppily cemented but firmly bolted into the slanted lip of the curb on the southwest corner, a few yards from the entrance to Trader Joe’s, was a somewhat tilted pole, about 5 feet tall and 5 inches across.
No sign, no light, just a silver, metal marker, built on an uneven patch of sidewalk and tilting into the flow of foot traffic like a miniature leaning tower of Cobble Hill.
As weeks passed, Mr. Lipsmeyer’s puzzlement blossomed into irritation. He wrote to the office of Marty Markowitz, the borough president, but the correspondence was unenlightening.
“You look around to the other corners to see, is there some symmetrical plan here?” Mr. Lipsmeyer, a 39-year-old wine buyer who lives nearby, said recently. “But, no.”
Indeed, though the streetscape is cluttered with tall green bus stop markers, fat flare-based poles topped with traffic lights, battered bike racks and other protrusions, there is nothing quite like Mr. Lipsmeyer’s headless pole, or half-pole, or whatever it is.
On Monday, shoppers and other walkers waited beside the pole for the light to change. Some shifted around it to get closer to the curb.
One pedestrian, Janice Behrens, had not noticed the pole until a reporter asked her about it. She studied it for a moment. “The top is sort of cut raw, it’s totally not finished,” she said. “It’s maybe going to be a street sign — a crooked street sign.”
David Balluff, who sells T-shirts on the sidewalk nearby, saw the pole’s being set up. “It seemed fairly routine,” he said. “It was a construction crew; they dug up the area in a square, put in footings and poured concrete, and put in the pipe last. And then, nothing for months.”
On Tuesday, a city Transportation Department official revealed the pole’s purpose: It will hold one of the chirping boxes known as accessible pedestrian signals that tell the visually impaired when it’s safe to cross.
The official said that the department hoped to install wiring and other hardware and activate the signal in the coming weeks. She said the pole’s slant would be inspected, too.
Until then, Mr. Lipsmeyer will have to tolerate the temporarily purposeless pole on his walk to work.
“People seem to have accepted it as part of the urban jungle labyrinth,” he conceded on Tuesday. “It’s now part of the family.”