The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for June 22nd, 2010

tyranny of the now

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whenever I notice that employees of Con Ed have opened the street and descended into their hidden vaults- especially on a hot summer day- I can’t help but remember the Astoria blackout of 2006. A week long event of flickering lights and municipal indifference, it exposed the ancient skeletal superstructure upon which the modern city’s flesh hangs, and shattered the mythologies of the “now”.

Something about having witnessed blue light and yellow smoke pouring out from manhole covers changes the way you think about the City, and to quote an old 1980’s aphorism- “people just walk around like they’re safe or something”.

from wikipedia

The cause of the outages – which was undetermined for five days – appeared to be the company’s decision to continue supplying power to the 400,000 people serviced by twenty-two feeder cables after ten of them had failed, overloading the remaining twelve. After these were repaired, a manhole-to-manhole inspection and repair of smaller cables which had also burned took place. Consolidated Edison was due to make an initial status report, regarding the outage, on August 2, 2006. Data submitted by Con Edison in August, 2006 indicated that the failed feeder cables had been in service an average of 16 years, with the oldest failed cable 59 years old.

For the official CONED report on the event- which is a highly technical document, click here

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 22, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Posted in Astoria

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