The 74th Street Power Station was designed by George H. Pegram, and was initially a coal-powered plant.  It was constructed by The Manhattan Elevated Railway Company in 1899 to supply electricity to the many elevated trains in New York City, including the Long Island Railroad, the Metro-North Railroad in addition to the subway system, and construction was completed by 1902.  Originally the power house was equipped with eight Allis-Corliss reciprocating steam engines. Each rated at 10,000 maximum horsepower; and each engine drove a Westinghouse three-phase 11,000 volt, 25-cycle alternator rated for 7,500 kilowatts. In 1911 (footnote – ) Because of the soot and pollution produced by the coal-powered plant, it was decided to convert the elevated railroads from steam power to electric power.  In 1959, Con Edison took over the plant and continued to provide power to substations in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.  It also supplied power to the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) — operator of New York City’s original subway line.  The use of steam to generate electric power at the Con Edison 74th Street Station ended in 1999, when new boilers were installed to directly supply Con Edison’s steam distribution system, which provides steam to Manhattan buildings for heating, cooling, and hot water.  Gas turbine generators were also installed to supplement Con Edison’s electric power “grid” without the need for steam turbine generators.

Consolidated Edison 74th Street Powerhouse - Manhattan

Photographer unknown. 74th St. Power Station Looking North. June 17, 1902. Museum of the City of New York Photography Collection. F2012.53.308A

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Consolidated Edison 74th Street Powerhouse - Manhattan 2

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