Waterside Generating Plant
First Avenue between 38th and 41st Streets
The Waterside Generating Plant was a majestic Beaux-Arts industrial structure designed by C. Wellesley Smith and built between 1896 and 1900. It was the first generating facility in New York City to produce alternating current. In 2001 it produced 2.4 million pounds of steam and 163 megawatts of electricity. Up through the middle of the 20th century, this portion of the East Side waterfront was devoted to industrial concerns, but the deindustrialization of the city after WWII coupled with the arrival of the United Nations and the work of numerous developers transformed the area into an upscale residential neighborhood.
As part of a late 1990s energy deregulation scheme, Con Ed's sold off most of its generating facilities. This site was decomissioned around 2005 and sold to developers for luxury residential and retail. Additional capacity (and pollution) was added at a power plant further south at 14th street (in a markedly less elite neighborhood) to make up for the loss of this facility. (reference) (reference)