First electrical utility (1882)

posted Friday, 4 September 2015

Thomas Edison did not invent the electric light bulb or the electric generator. What he did do was create a system that unified the two devices into a commercially viable system. The Pearl Street Station began selling electricity 51 years and 6 days after electromagnetic induction was discovered by Michael Faraday. The station was located at 255-257 Pearl Street between John and Fulton Streets in Manhattan. It operated until 1890 when it was damaged in a fire. According to a ConEd webpage, a commemorative plaque was placed at the site in 1917, but I couldn’t find it. The site is a surface level parking lot between two large office buildings. I seem to remember demolition work at that location two or three years ago. I assume the plaque is in safe keeping some place awaiting the day when something more impressive than an acre of asphalt occupies that parcel of land.