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1936_07_11--010_SP Underground Empire

54 COROITIS* disease of electrical cords; the symptoms are frayed wire and broken plugs. It causes severe mental irritation and violent nervous disorders among electrical appliance users. The best fan cannot work for you— the finest power company cannot serve you—if the electrical cord has Corditis. Corditis is the cause of 9 out of 1 appliance troubles. No appliance is better than the wire that forms the connecting link to the power outlet. Look for Belden Electrical Cords identified by the Belden Unbreakable Soft Rubber Plug permanently assembled at the factory. Up-to-date appliance manufacturers are using Belden Cords for your convenience and protection. Their products will not be "crippled with Corditis." Dealer': Many of your customers are having Corditis troubles. You can easily give them permanent relief by handling the complete line of Belden trouble-proof Replacement Electrical Cords—there is a Belden Replacement Cord for every service. Belden ELECTRICAL C CO It, Identified by the Belden Unbreak- spE able Soft Rubber Plug. ef( ;N Certified stand- Listed as and by Electri- --1t3";;) standard by cal 'resting o%%.. • Manure , Underwriters' Laboratories. '......-.."........• Laboratories. Appliance Cord Sets Approved by Good Housekeeping Institute THE SATURDAY tunnels, and an endless network of capillarylike mains. In earlier years, things were simpler. The Manhattan Company, organized in 1795 by Aaron Burr, was the first concern to put in a subterranean system. The company distributed water from springs and deep wells, and dug ten miles of trenches in lower Manhattan. As recently as three years ago, excavation workers uncovered a sixteen-foot section of the original water main. It was a pine log a foot in diameter with a three-inch bore, and still in an excellent state of preservation. Today the city is bisected by two great tunnels—both of them longer than the famous Simplon Tunnel in the Alps—which guarantee enough water for another century of growth. No one bothered to name these underground torrents—they are simply Tunnel No. 1 and Tunnel No. 2. Tunnel No. 1 has been in operation since 1917. Tunnel No. 2 was completed in 1933, but is not yet in operation. When a Water Main Breaks The building of Tunnel No. 2 is typical of the terrific hazards which challenged the engineers in the construction of both. This project cost $58,000,- 000 and kept 2500 men working night and day for three years. The tunnel is never less than 520 feet below sea level; sometimes it is as far below the sidewalk as the Metropolitan Tower is above it. The extreme depth is estimated at 850 feet. Most of the excavation was through solid rock, but the blasting was done so far below the surface that persons owning the property immediately above could not feel or hear the explosions. The tunnel is seventeen feet in diameter, and sealed with cement on the inside. It is large enough and high enough to hold a subway car with a man standing erect on the roof of the car. The excavation work was ordered exactly like a mining operation. Sixteen electric mine hoists lifted debris to the street level. Tracks were laid in the tunnel itself, and sixty-nine mine locomotives were kept in action. Tunnel No. 2 is designed to carry 700,000,000 gallons of water a day. The health of pampered urban dwellers has always been bought dearly. In Hadrian's time slaves built a water tunnel to Athens. Their method of excavation was to build a fire against the rock, and then, when the rock was properly hot, to dash cold vinegar against it. The rock scaled and cracked. No one knows how many slaves died in building the tunnel which, twenty-one hundred years after, still carries water to Athens. Sixty men died building Tunnel No. 2. New Yorkers are conscious of their water supply only when something happens to it. Occasionally the mains that draw their supply from deep underground go wrong. They burst. Water spouts fifty to ninety feet high; pavement crumbles like a graham cracker. Five years ago, a four-foot main burst at Madison Avenue and 73rd Street. The streets were a caricature of Venice, and boys ferried prosperous patrons from curb to curb in grocery carts at ten cents a ride. Streetcars stopped. Gas mains, undermined, gave way, and householders were without cookstoves for the night. Basements were flooded in Park Avenue near by and elevators would not function. During the same year a tremendous water main burst up beyond Columbia University. Some 25,000,000 gallons EVENING POST of water cascaded through the streets and inundated the basement and subbasement, the kitchen and furnace room of Knickerbocker Hospital. It was a snowy January, and 175 patients were without food or heat for seven hours. Such accidents are uncommon, but when they occur in a populous section, the other utilities are almost always affected. A bursting water main shortcircuits the electric lines, plays hob with the gas supply and the telephone circuits, and may cause some very handsome explosions. The utilities are prepared for such exigencies in that they are equipped to cut off disturbed sectors by the turn of a lever, and to borrow from other main cables for current and light. The truth is that New York is in bondage to its subsurface lines and dependent upon them. In January of this year, the town had a sample of the paralysis which ensues when one of the utilities yawns and decides to take a rest. At 4:16 on a gloomy rainy afternoon there was a breakdown in the alternating-current system—a tremendous short circuit in the Hellgate unit, the second largest power plant in the world. Ordinarily, in such breakdowns, public inconvenience is short-lived; other generating units are tapped for subsidiary power. But -because of the importance of the plant affected and the fact that the collapse came at the peak of the day's business, Manhattan above 59th Street was cast into inner and outer darkness and stayed that way. Service was restored in the borough of the Bronx in forty-five minutes and in Westchester County in seven minutes by connecting with the Niagara- Hudson system upstate. In upper Manhattan normal service was not restored for hours. Tracking Down Gas Leaks Such calamities, fortunately, are rare. The gas and electric companies employ large forces of maintenance men whose duty it is to discover trouble before it becomes catastrophe. Sixty thousand manholes are the windows through which the utility concerns check up on conditions beneath the streets. To make sure that these manholes are safe places to work in, the gas companies maintain crews of men whose sole duty is the constant testing of these cisternlike apertures for accumulations of gas and foul air. They utilize an apparatus known as the "mechanical nose." This specially devised sniffer not only detects the slightest seepage of gas but analyzes it on the spot to determine whether it is illuminating gas, sewer gas, or some more unlikely, but equally dangerous effluvium. When a leak is detected, repair crews are called at once. The largest of the several gas companies which operate in the city has ninety men engaged in its so-called emergency service. Nine emergency trucks, each equipped like a laboratory and a tool room combined, carry them from place to plice. They isolate the leak and then dig to fix it. There are fire-alarm boxes in the headquarters of the gas and electric men, and they respond to everything above a one-alarm call as automatically as the city firemen themselves. They are there to see that explosions do not occur; they can be recognized at a fire by their green helmets. In Manhattan there are gas mains as large as forty-eight inches in diameter. A seventy-two-inch main under the East River carries gas from the Astoria plant to the Bronx, and a ,July 11,1936 sixty-inch main under the river carries gas to Manhattan. The New York Edison Company owns the biggest uhderground high-tension wires in the world. They are fifteen or sixteen miles long, carry 132,000 volts, and are part of a connection between the local concern and the state-wide distributing corporation. Next to the distribution of water and gas, the oldest public utility activity in New York—it antedates the distribution of electricity by ten years—is the supplying of steam from central heating plants. The Steam Corporation operates only in heavily congested areas, but it sends heat underground to many of the best-known skyscrapers. The steam arrives through a pipe, just like gas and water, and saves these buildings the thousands of feet in valuable floor space that would be necessary for the construction of their own heating plants. .R Watery Kingdom One of the comforting landmarks of the American wilderness is the steady march of telephone poles. The desolate motorist who has chosen a short-cut over the high plateau or through the sandy waste knows, however unlikely it seems.at the moment, that as long as he travels under singing wires, he must be going somewhere. In New York, these landmarks have disappeared; there is no room for them on the streets. When one realizes that there are 1,493,- 000 phones in New York City—more than twice the number in South America— this is understandable. It has been estimated that almost 10,000,000 miles of wire are used. These wires, thanks to the efforts of telephonic engineers, have grown steadily smaller in size. One underground cable now in use is only two and five-eighths inches in diameter and contains 3636 individual wires. To handle such a load overhead would require thirteen poles each with twenty-eight crossarms, and each crossarm carrying ten wires. Where would you put those poles in New York? When the complexity of the modern city is considered, it requires a pretty gifted imagination to picture the New York of peg-leg Peter Stuyvesant's time. Then Manhattan was an island of rocky fields and brooks and creeks and ponds and rivers. As a matter of fact, Manhattan was almost three islands. One river ran down what is now Canal Street into the Hudson and another wandered bucoliely through 125th Street. Where the Tombs Prison now stands was a pond in which the Dutchmen paddled their boats and idly threw lines out for fish. There, later, John Fitch made the first tests of his steamboat. Farther uptown was Minetta Creek, along whose banks the painted Iroquois had held the meetings false-face etimso society, e, , and where, housewives euiryvfe ae washed their linen and gossiped som- somnolently about cousins who were lucky in of the ir enough to be home in Rotterdam. The old landscape has disappeared, but underground, as any engineer can testify, it continues to exist. Fortyseven rivers, brooks, ponds and swamps, vanished from the surface, still harass the subsurface architect. Evidences of some of them may be found a hundred feet down. Others are much closer to the sidewalk. When the Jefferson Market Court was being constructed on lower Sixth Avenue, Minetta Brook or one of its tributaries gushed into the excavation. During the work on the Roosevelt Memorial at 77th Street and (continued on Page 56) Is Your Fan Crippled With *CORD-I-TIS-a dangerous


1936_07_11--010_SP Underground Empire
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