Patrick Marini

luglio 17, 2006

Consolidated Edisons steam pipes

Filed under: New York — π@3κ @ 7:18 pm

Vapori 1982Last year alone, Manhattan used 29,566,747,000 pounds of steam through Consolidated Edisons steam pipes. Of the five major pipes that wind beneath the streets of Manhattan—gas, electric, sewer, steam, and water—one hundred eight miles of pipes belong to the steam system. Manhattanites seem to take this phenomenon of curling whirls, of hissing blasts of steam for granted; its the tourists who are startled and amazed by the eerie impressions sometimes created above the ground.

The first steam customer in Manhattan was a bank on Wall Street and Broadway which in 1882 ran its two elevators with steam. This was years before the multitude of small gas and electric systems merged to form the company known to most New Yorkers as Con Ed. What actually causes the steam-flows that wind their way around the citys streets? The steam that Consolidated Edison sells to office buildings for heating and air conditioning is delivered through underground pipes; the pieces of piping, although tightly connected, can at times leak. Its these leaks, along with the leaks from the citys water and sewer mains, that create a vapor of water which escapes out of the many cracks and crevices in Manhattan’s streets and pavements.

Manhattan – Abrams, Chris Casson Madden – 1981

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