The Newtown Pentacle

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Big Allis is not in the Land of the Lost… or how I learned to stop worrying and love Ravenswood #3

with 9 comments

Big Allis

16% percent of the electricity consumed by New York City is generated at the junction of Vernon and 36th avenues in Queens where the gargantuan Big Allis power plant is found.

Big Allis

The first million kilowatt facility in the entire country, built at the behest of Consolidated Edison, Ravenswood number three first went online in 1965. Upon activation, the 
cyclopean dynamos of Big Allis were reduced to slag by volcanic emanations issuing from within its massive, natural gas driven turbines. 

Railyard with powerplant

Six months later, a rebuilt system managed to withstand a full hour and twenty-seven minutes of these cosmic stresses before it too went out of commission for a further four months. The problem was diagnosed by experts and teams of engineers to be the responsibility of a malfunctioning bearing which was producing disharmonious vibrations.


After the blackouts of the late seventies, it seemed that Big Allis had finally been tamed by the tireless labor of the indomitable employees
of Consolidated Edison. Perfected, the plant was sold by ConEd to the Keyspan Energy Corporation, which then sold it in 2008 to the TransCanada company for 2.9 billion dollars.

photos by Mitch Waxman

As always, if something you read here is contradicted by something you know, please leave a comment or contact us. Corrections and additions are always welcome.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 11, 2009 at 1:00 pm

9 Responses

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  1. […] did a post on Big Allis a little while back, but I’ve never quite seen it from the river. These ships, apparently, […]

  2. […] which allow access to the combined pedestrian walkway and bicycle lane. Looking due north, one sees Big Allis, The Queensboro bridge, and the toll plaza of the Midtown Tunnel. This pathway also offers […]

  3. […] from the Queensboro Bridge, with mighty Triborough and Hells Gate in the background, that’s Big Allis on the left- just for scale. Hallets Cove, where the Sunswick Creek once drained into the East […]

  4. […] Big Allis is quite visible from the bridge, with its busy hive of conduits and valves feeding fuel to its cyclonic turbines. One of the little facts about Queens not being discussed in the current rush to overdevelop the quaint streets of the ancient hamlets of Newtown, which I fear will have dire consequence in the future, is the presence of critical facilities like this amongst large numbers of bourgeois newcomers. Examine the controversies in Long Island City at Hunters Point- the LIRR diesel idling noise (from complaints, and realizations are beginning to surface in Tower Town that Long Island City is indeed “the Ancient Seat of Graft“. […]

  5. […] can smell it in the air, whether the breeze is coming off the Newtown Creek or Big Allis. A disconcerting sense of change, with long time residents being swept away by progress. What is […]

  6. […] Big Allis… […]

  7. […] the distance, from left is Lindenthal’s magnificent Queensboro, the Big Allis power plant, the omnipresent Sapphire megalith, the high flying Long Island Expressway, and a substantial […]

  8. […] “Big Allis is not in the Land of the Lost… or how I learned to stop worrying and love Ravenswood #3“ […]

  9. […] a thoughtfully placed wall was leaned upon, and the shot above was captured. That’s Big Allis across the river, over in […]

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