IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - November/December 2017 - 94

history

Thomas J. Blalock

operating Waterside
interesting facts about how it was done

W

WATERSIDE WAS AN ICONIC
generating station built by the New
York Edison Company and later
operated by the Consolidated Edison
Company of New York. It served as a
primary source of electric power for
Manhattan island throughout the 20th
century. The following is not an exhaustive technical history of the station but,
rather, a collection of interesting facts
regarding procedures involved in operating this huge facility over the decades of its existence.

Background
Following the success of his pioneering
Pearl Street generating station in lower
Manhattan in 1882, Thomas Edison
constructed additional dc generating stations scattered about Manhattan. In 1888, a dc generating station
was built on 26th Street, utilizing
three triple expansion (high-, medium-,
and low-pressure cylinders in tandem)
steam engines with direct-connected
dc generators. The engines were rated at
600 hp each and were of the Van Vleck
design. John Van Vleck served as chief
engineer of the Edison Electric Illuminating Company in that era. These
engines were land-based versions of
marine engines that were used for powering large ships, and they became the
standard for such generating stations
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/MPE.2017.2729198
Date of publication: 18 October 2017

94

ieee power & energy magazine

We are delighted with our latest "History" article by Thomas J. Blalock, our industrial archaeologist par excellence (see the "History" column in the November/
December 2016 issue of the magazine for his biography). Look for fascinating
tidbits in this article-an operating procedure to allow the stokers to take turns
shoveling coal into the boilers closest to the windows, black start after the 1965
blackout by building a wood fire in a furnace ... .
Coal-fired electric and steam generators in Manhattan!? Much cleaner than
the coal-burning room heaters and oil lamps they replaced and the thousands
of horse-drawn streetcars!
We think the world has come a long way. Our thanks to those who made it
happen-and to Tom for reminding us. What will his successor say, a century
hence, of our quaint ways and progress?
Hyde Merrill

until the introduction of the steam
turbine early in the 20th century. The
Pearl Street station remained in operation until 1894 but suffered a disastrous
fire in 1890.
In 1891, a large dc station was constructed on Duane Street in Manhattan.
Eventually, it served as the headquarters for the Edison Company. The
Duane Street station included two huge
2,500-hp engines, each of which drove
two dc generators. These engines also
were designed by Van Vleck and featured a rather unusual concept. They
were quadruple-expansion engines
(high-, high-medium-, low-medium-,
and low-pressure cylinders) and were
called disconnective engines by Van
Vleck. If there was a problem with
1540-7977/17©2017IEEE

one of the engine cylinders, the engine could be mechanically cut in half
so that two of the functioning cylinders
could still be used to drive one of the
generators while the other half was under repair.
In 1895, another dc station was constructed on 12th Street. The first unit
installed in this station used a pioneering DeLaval steam turbine of 300 hp to
drive two dc generators. Subsequently,
conventional steam engines were installed to drive additional generators.
The 12th Street station also contained
an 8,000 Ah wet-cell battery to provide power for a period of time in the
event of a serious breakdown or late at
night when the power demand was very
low. The inclusion of such a battery in
november/december 2017



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IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - November/December 2017 - Cover3
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