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What?!!  Blue-helmeted, be-safetyglassed worker in a manhole . . .  blue looks like our electric company, ConEdison.  But why on Tugster?  Granted, ConEdison maintains 105 miles of steam pipes under Manhattan alone.  As the worker I spoke to put it . . . “for steam, we’re the only game in town.”  But steam . . . on a 90-degree day?

This 600-pound device, featured on Tugster once before here, needs 170 pounds of pressure to function, so

here we are, near South Street Seaport on the 75th anniversary of the inaugural arrival of SS  Normandie in New York . . . and I suppose you want to hear this three-chimed whistle saved by chance from the scrapyard.  Well,

. . . you will, but before you listen, let me share a short story I heard this morning from Conrad H. Milster,  the current custodian of the device:  the whistle also blew on the 50th anniversary, scheduled to blow every hour.  The neighborhood merchants –AROUND the area called South Street Seaport–complained about the noise, and the program was cancelled.  Imagine, a ship’s whistle was classified as NOISE.  Today, all seemed harmonious and ConEd workers I spoke with were excited to provide the steam.  The whistle calls attention to South Street’s exhibit “Decodence” now through January 2011.

Ready??  Conrad is the man wearing a blue shirt and standing beside a tripod at 15–18 seconds into the video.

Fotos and video by Will Van Dorp.

More of Conrad’s whistles and a quirky rendition of SS Normandie are here and here. Only Bowsprite knows whether she made an artistic decision to leave off the whistle OR the whistle was too small on the drawing to be visible.

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June 2010