Milestones:Largest Private (dc) Generating Plant in the U.S.A., 1929

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Largest Private (dc) Generating Plant in the U.S.A., 1929

Dials on the Hotel New Yorker DC control board, photograph courtesy of Joseph Kinney
The DC control board at the Hotel New Yorker, photograph courtesy of Joseph Kinney
The Direct Current (dc) generating plant installed at the New Yorker Hotel in 1929, capable of supplying electric power sufficient for a city of 35,000 people, was the largest private generating plant in the U.S.A. Steam engines drove electric generators, with exhaust steam used for heating and other facilities. The installation used more than two hundred dc motors, and was controlled from a seven-foot (two-meter) high, sixty-foot (eighteen-meter) long switchboard.

The plaque can be viewed near the elevators of the New Yorker Hotel, 481 8th Avenue, New York, NY 10001.

What would be described today as a "cogeneration" facility was incorporated into the design of the hotel. Steam engines were to drive electric generators, and the exhaust steam from these engines would then be used for heating the building as well as in other facilities, such as the hotel laundry. A cost analysis performed at that time showed a savings of US$48,000 per year as compared to the cost of purchasing electric power.

The Hotel New Yorker, at 8th Avenue and 34th Street, was also the residence of Nikola Tesla for the last ten years of his life until his death in 1943.

As part of its renovation, the Hotel New Yorker is planning to build a small museum, probably in the lobby, where artifacts from its past will be displayed.  The IEEE Milestone plaque will probably be displayed there.

"Powering the New Yorker" by Tom Blalock. This article was published in IEEE Power & Energy Magazine (Volume4 , Number 1, January/Februarv 2006)


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