Wednesday, January 21, 2009


OK, I give up.

What the hell are these things? These orange candy-cane chimneys are everywhere in this city. So what gives? Is it from the subway? Is it from underground construction? Is it from the sewage system? And if so, shouldn’t I be concerned about breathing the vaporized poo-particles of millions of inhabitants of New York City?

Well, not really. Thanks to a thoroughly half-assed search of the web, I discovered that New York City has by far the most massive steam system in the world, which provides heat and energy for roughly 100,000 buildings, since it’s very efficient and cost effective for high-rises.

Steam? Really?

Apparently, on any given cold winter day, 10 million (!) pounds of steam course through 105 snaking miles of underground steam pipes per HOUR. That’s 30 billion pounds of steam pumping underneath the streets of Manhattan every year.

Not surprisingly, those pipe valves sometimes get damaged, and they need fixing. Whenever ConEd is doing any work on a broken valve, I guess they use these things to re-route the gushing steam.

Now if you’re anything like me, those numbers don’t really mean anything. They're just too big and crazy and science fiction-y to comprehend. But I guess all you really need to know is this:

Those orange chimney-stacks are a good thing. Cause if they don’t fix those valves in time? This happens.


Poor Lucky Me said...

Ok, I watched the youtube video. You must move home right away. That's enough now.

dave said...

I think that is actually a video from Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park, superimposed into Manhattan.

s. moe said...

hell no dude! here are two more clips of the same explosion from spring of '07

Dave said...

That's probably just a teaser video for the new J.J Abrams movie.