IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - 82

Cornelius "Commodore" Vanderbilt,
the instigator and patron saint of the
New York Central Railroad empire and
its Grand Central complex).
The basement-level boiler room
for this plant had only 9 ft (2.74 m) of
headroom. Thus, an unusual type of
boiler installation was utilized. This
consisted of six 200-hp "Belpaire"
locomotive-type boilers that required
comparatively little headroom for their
installation and operation. The boiler
room was 300 ft (91.4 m) in length, and
the boilers all fed into a 10-in (25.4-cm)
diameter steam main.
This main provided steam for the
operation of four Ball and Wood highspeed, horizontal steam engines. The
engines drove four Crocker-Wheeler
dc generators with a total capacity of
425 kW. At some later date, a fifth Ball
and Wood engine was added to drive a
150-kW General Electric dc generator,

which increased the total plant capacity to 575 kw. This amounted to a total of 5,230 A supplied at the standard
110 V, and all distribution was by means
of simple two-wire circuits. There was no
motor load of any consequence, and the
combined arc and incandescent lighting
load was said to be equivalent to 6,000
incandescent lamps of that period.
As was often the practice in that early era, the exhaust steam from the engines was not wasted but was used for
heating the station building. There was
no breakdown service provided from
the New York Edison Company, which
indicates complete faith in the reliability of the generating plant itself. The
switchboard controlling the outputs of
the generators must have been elaborate and impressive. Unfortunately, no
known photos of it survive, but it was
said to have been constructed of Tennessee marble.

figure 2. The Glenwood Power Station along the Hudson River in Yonkers,
New York (photo courtesy of the Museum of Innovation and Science (miSci)
Archives, Schenectady, New York).
82

ieee power & energy magazine

Grand Central Terminal
The earlier Grand Central facilities featured surface train yards necessitated by
the use of steam locomotives. As time
went on and rail traffic increased, the noise
and dirt associated with these surface
operations became more obnoxious for
residents to the east and west of the yards.
All train traffic in and out of Grand
Central has always been from the north
only (this will soon change with the completion of the East Side Access project,
which will allow trains access to Grand
Central Terminal from Long Island). By
the end of the 19th century, the four main
Grand Central tracks had been placed in a
tunnel beneath Park Avenue, north of the
train yards, to improve the environment
along upper Park Avenue.
The continued use of steam locomotives in the Park Avenue tunnel led
inevitably to a horrific crash due to the
inability of a locomotive engineer to
see a red signal because of the excessive smoke in the tunnel. This event
occurred in 1902 and, as a result, the
City of New York decided to ban the
use of steam locomotives on Manhattan Island by 1 July 1908.
The New York Central Railroad
placed the responsibility for a solution to
this problem in the hands of a young civil
engineer named William Wilgus, who
had joined the railroad in 1893 and was
named chief engineer in 1899. Wilgus
and the Electric Traction Commission
(ETC), an independent panel of experts
that he appointed in late 1902 and chaired,
developed the brilliant solution to electrify all train operations at Grand Central
and on the New York Central Railroad
and related rail lines into New York City.
This solution would allow the train yards
to be relocated beneath the surface and,
thereby, to open up the remainder of Park
Avenue for development.
Wilgus convinced the New York Central Railroad that it was futile to attempt
to adapt the existing Grand Central Station for this new mode of operation and
that the funds simply had to be spent to
start over and construct an entirely new
terminal. The result of that decision led
to the present day Grand Central Terminal, which opened in 1913 (the existing
july/august 2014



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014

IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - Cover1
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IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - Cover3
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