IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - 85

33rd and 34th Streets were demolished
to allow for the construction of the
Empire State Building. These hotels
(which actually were physically connected) had been built during the 1890s
by two feuding cousins: John Jacob Astor IV and William Waldorf Astor.
Grand Central's 50th Street power
house had become something of an
eyesore along the developing Park Avenue. Consequently, the New York Central Railroad decided to sell that parcel
of land for the construction of a new
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. This was made
possible by a decision to eliminate the
production of steam for the terminal
and adjacent buildings. Instead, the required steam would be purchased from
the New York Steam Corporation, which
operated a boiler house on the East River
at a location known as Kips Bay, several
blocks south of Grand Central.
The purchased steam, by the way,
would be distributed using a series of
already existing tunnels beneath the
lower-level Grand Central train yard.
In later years, those tunnels would

become notorious as the warm shelters
used during the winter by some of New
York City's many homeless people.
This decision also eliminated the
need for the steam plant located beneath
Grand Central itself. Therefore, it was
possible to renovate this large area for
the construction of a new substation that
would replace both Substation No. 1 and
Substation No. 1A at 50th Street.

The Big Move
The purchase of all new electrical equipment for this new substation would have
been a waste of money since most of the
existing equipment at 50th Street was
still perfectly usable. Consequently, a
plan was devised to move this equipment to the former steam plant space.
Of course, train service could not be
disrupted during such a move. Therefore, a new underground circuit breaker
house was constructed at 49th Street to
feed the 36 existing feeder cables that
supplied power to all of the third-rail
sections in the underground train yards.
This installation was supplied from the

still operating Substation No. 1 at 50th
Street, and 12 new main cables were
installed to it from the new substation location beneath the terminal. As
rotary converters and other equipment
were gradually moved from Substation
No. 1 to the new substation (designated as Substation "1T"), these newly
installed circuit breakers allowed individual third-rail feeder cables to be reconnected as desired.
It was impractical to consider moving all of this heavy electrical equipment
on the surface streets. Instead, pieces of
equipment were lowered through a hatchway in the floor of the old Substation
No. 1, using its overhead traveling crane,
to flat cars located on tracks in the upper
level train yard beneath.
Incidentally, one of these tracks that
still exists beneath the present WaldorfAstoria Hotel (designated as Track 61) is
said to have been used by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a convenient nonpublic access to the hotel after traveling
by rail from his home in Hyde Park, New
York, to the north. This tactic helped with

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