History of Innovation

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1882: Pearl Street Station – New York City, New York

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Building: Edison Illuminating Company’s Pearl Street Station
Location: New York City, New York
Chief Engineer: Charles L. Clarke
Operation: 4 September 1882 – 1890

Innovation Genre: Electricity
Innovation Aspects: First Electric Power Plant

The first electric power plant was powered by a single direct current (DC) generator driver by a custom made Porter-Allen steam engine (175 horsepower at 700 rpm). The chief engineer for Edison was Charles L. Clarke. This plant served 85 customers in the lower Manhattan, and powered 400 lamps in its original design. By 1884, the Pearl Street served 508 customers and powered 10,164 lamps. Later, the Porter-Allen engines were replaced by Armington & Sims engines, which were more reliable. In 1890, the station burnt down destroying all but one dynamo that now resides in the Greenfield Village Museum in Dearborn, MI.  `

This innovation allowed for many people to be served by a single power source. It furthered the advancement of construction by allowing architects and engineers to work longer days, by allowing contractors an easier method to powering machines, and eventually powering future technologies of modern construction.


Written by Lauren Brannom

September 4, 1882 at 7:48 pm

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Engines

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