Consolidated Edison Company of New York A Brief History of Con Edison header image

A Brief History of Con Edison

For more than 190 years, Con Edison has been building the energy and infrastructure needed to fuel and sustain the city's growth. An innovative, integral, and vital part of the communities we serve, we are proud of our role in New York's historic past, its dynamic present, and its bright future.

1823 - Con Edison traces its early history to the New York Gas Light company, which was focusing its efforts on street lighting. A year later, the residence of Samuel Leggett, one of the company's founders will become the first house in New York to be illuminated by gas.

1876 - New Yorkers embraced the new technology and over the years, six major gas companies serving New York City were rivaling. The streets were torn up by one company or another installing or repairing their own mains and removing those of a rival. Their fierce battles for customers gave rise to the term "gas house gangs".

1879 - Although the gas business was booming, the work of Thomas Edison was about to change everything. In December of 1879, after years of trying for a more pleasing, durable light, Edison demonstrated his newest invention - the incandescent lightbulb. The electric lamp quickly became the light of choice.

1880 - At the same time that Edison was growing his system of central station power, another energy source - steam -- was also under development. Another inventor, Birdsill Holly of Lockport, heated his house, and later much of the town, with steam. By 1882, steam was being used in cities across America.

1882 - After successfully installing the first street mains a year prior, following the model of gas and water distribution, Edison's electric illuminating system went into operation in New York in September of 1882. With the opening of Pearl Street Station, it was now possible for homes and businesses to purchase electric light at a price that could compete with gas.

1884 - With the growing demand for electricity, the future of gas business seemed to depend on consolidation. On November 10, the major gas companies agreed to combine their businesses into the Consolidated Gas Company of New York.

1900- As with New York's gas, the competition grew strong for electricity business and by the 1900s more than 30 companies were generating and distributing electricity throughout the boroughs of New York City and in Westchester County.

1901 - Consolidated Gas acquired the majority of Manhattan's electric companies, forming The New York Edison Company and later changing its name to the Consolidated Edison Company of New York. Brooklyn Edison's Waterside station opened the same year as the world's largest generating plant of its day. It was 10 times the capacity of Pearl Street and was one of the first to implement cogeneration, using a generator plant to produce both heat and electricity.

1932 - The New York Edison's parent company was the largest company in the world providing electrical service, but Steam was also standing its ground. By 1932, some of the most famous New York City landmarks were using steam as their energy source - among them were the Empire State Building, Grand Central Terminal, the Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, and more.

1936 - 1960 - Over the course of the next several decades, Con Edison went through many structural changes, acquiring and merging with over a dozen companies.

1998 - Following regulation changes in the utility industry in the state, a holding company, Consolidated Edison, Inc., was formed.

Today, Con Edison remains one of the largest and most complex - yet most reliable - gas, steam, and electric power systems in the world, providing service to more than 3 million customers in New York City and Westchester County.


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