Pearl Street Station was the first commercial central "power plant in the US. It was located at 255-257 "Pearl Street in "Manhattan on a site measuring 50 by 100 feet (15 by 30 m), just south of "Fulton Street and fired by coal. It began with one "direct current "generator, and it started "generating electricity on September 4, 1882, serving an initial load of 400 lamps at 82 customers. By 1884, Pearl Street Station was serving 508 customers with 10,164 lamps. The station was built by the "Edison Illuminating Company, which was headed by "Thomas Edison. The station was originally powered by custom-made Porter-Allen high-speed steam engines designed to provide 175 "horsepower at 700 rpm, but these proved to be unreliable with their sensitive governors. They were removed and replaced with new engines from "Armington & Sims that proved to be much more suitable for Edison's dynamos.
Pearl Street Station was also the world's first "cogeneration plant. While the steam engines provided grid electricity, Edison made use of the thermal byproduct by distributing steam to local manufacturers, and warming nearby buildings on the same Manhattan block.
In 1929 the Edison Company constructed three scale working models of the station. When a button was pushed, a motor turned the engines, generators, and other equipment in the model. A set of lamps connected to labelled buttons identified the various areas of the building. Cut-outs in the side of the model building allowed examination of the boilers on the first level, reciprocating steam engines and dynamos on the reinforced second level, and the control and test gear on the third and fourth levels. The models were constructed to a scale of one-half inch to the foot and were 62 inches long, 34 inches high and 13 inches wide. The models still exist and are on display at the "Smithsonian Institution "National Museum of American History in Washington, at the "Consolidated Edison Learning Center in Long Island City, New York and at the "Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Up to 31 people worked on constructing the models which took about 6 months to complete.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pearl Street Station.|