Saturday, December 16, 2017




I was surprised  to see steam rising from manholes or vents at various places  or streets in Manhattan , New York.  Specially  erected vents  with orange  and white stripes  throw steam up.  Come closer to these  manholes on the  footpath , you feel warm.   I was told that the thick  flowing  steam released from  erected  vents  is so hot that it can cause burns .The  heavy iron grill covers of   air vents of underground Metro train stations   also release steam . 

 During late night time when some roads go  to sleep and slip into  silence  , the steam remains active and a  testimony to city's  undying inertia and   energy .

What steam is this?

 I sought  reply to this question  from so many people .  By so many I mean the  Halal snack vendors from Middle East  ,   vegetable and fruit vendors  from Asia and Latin America  ,  Nepali and Sri-Lankans  selling roasted nuts,  taxi drivers from Indian subcontinent ,   shopkeepers, salesmen in malls etc. From them,  I came to know that  the steam is supplied to malls,  high rise buildings,  shops,  domestic  consumers and industrial  consumers through a network of underground pipes by a company since so many decades.  In fact  every high rise building in New york uses this steam for heating,  air conditioning  and continuous supply of hot water . The  credit for this wonderful  steam delivery  goes to Wallace Andrew , who designed and built  first steam system for New york in 1881.And this steam supply system , perhaps biggest ever in the world ,  has proved to be the cleanest source of energy .

Proper billing for consumption  keeps the steam generating company in good financial health. The vents are meant for maintaining  proper steam pressure. Con Edison(  The company  has annual  profit of more than $13billion) or the steam generating company  has been there since 1882. Apart from steam , the company supplies gas and electricity to consumers in  New York .This steam warms up so many landmark buildings  including , Grand Central  Train Terminal,  Met Life Tower, Chrysler  Tower, UNO Tower , Empire State Building , Museums, Hospitals ,  Restaurants  and many more landmark  buildings .  It also warms up the Metropolitan  Museum of Art on 86th street. This steam heats up about 100000 homes , offices and other establishments  in New York using a network of underground pipes . The dish washing in restaurants is done with this steam . It is also used for disinfecting hospitals , railway  stations and  other places .

(Avar Mota)

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