Pearl Street Station

New York, New York


The first commercial central power plant in the United States. Built on a site measuring 50 by 100 feet. The station was built by the Edison Illuminating Company, under the direction of Francis Upton, hired by Thomas Edison.

Opened, Sept 4, 1882

It consumed coal for fuel and began with six dynamos. It started generating electricity on September 4, 1882, serving an initial load of 400 lamps at 82 customers. By 1884, Pearl Street Station was serving 508 customers with 10,164 lamps. Pearl Street Station was also the world's first cogeneration plant. While the steam engines provided grid electricity, Edison made use of the thermal byproduct by providing steam heating to local manufacturers and nearby buildings on the same Manhattan block.Pearl Street Station served what was known as the "First District" (bounded clockwise from north by Spruce Street, the East River, Wall Street, and Nassau Street). The district, so named because of its importance in the history of electric power, contained several other power stations such as the Excelsior Power Company Building.

Burned, 1890

The station burned down in 1890, destroying all but one dynamo that is now kept in the Greenfield Village Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

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