Friday, October 21, 2011

Speaking of General Electric: "Honey, I Forgot the Anniversary: Edison's Pearl Street Station" (GE)

This was originally posted October 22, 2007.

What with all the anniversaries, the Crash of '87; the Panic of 1907*; Rio 1992; Byrd-Hagel and Kyoto 1997, I'm having trouble keeping them straight.
(*see below)

At 3 a.m. Sunday morning my failing memory woke me from a sound sleep (that and the BPH).

From the New York Times, September 5, 1882:

Edison's central station, at No. 257 Pearl street, was yesterday one of the busiest places down town, and Mr. Edison was by far the busiest man in the station. The giant dynamos were started up at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and, according to Mr. Edison, they will go on forever unless stopped by an earthquake.
Pearl Street Station was the first central power plant in the United States and the fourth in the world (the first was built in Godalming in Britain). It was located at 255-257 Pearl Street in Manhattan on a site measuring 50 by 100 feet. [1]It began with one direct current generator, and it started generating electricity on September 4, 1882, serving an initial load of 400 lamps at 85 customers. By 1884, Pearl Street Station was serving 508 customers with 10,164 lamps.[1] The station was built by the Edison Electric Illuminating Company, which was headed by Thomas Edison.
From Wikipedia
From the Smithsonian Institution:

Pearl Street Station Distribution Area

A sketch of the exterior of the Pearl Street station. Courtesy: Photographic Services of the Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc.
A sketch of the exterior of the Pearl Street station. Courtesy: Photographic Services of the Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc.

*From the Climateer Investing Archives (click link below):
On October 14, 1907, the stock of United Copper Company soared past $62 a share. Two days later it closed at $15, and one F. Augustus Heinze was well on his way to financial ruin.
Monday, April 9, 2007
Global Warming and Venture Capital

We're coming up on the 100th anniversary of the Panic of 1907 (Join our cult, get the calendar free!). The Boston Fed. did a great paper on the panic that should have gotten a wider audience.

It's not that often you see a sub-head like "In Which the Downfall of a Prominent Speculator Rocks the Financial System, and a Prominent Millionaire Saves the Day" in a Fed. Bank Publication.

Rereading this got me thinking about the differance between J.P. Morgan (Our Hero), and the current crop of VC's flogging their new-found green credentials. Where were they six years ago? Oh, that's right: Webvan and and and Even Queer Company blew through $5 mil.

Compare that to Morgan six years prior to the Panic, during the Northern Pacific squeeze of ought-one. J.J. Hill flying across the country in a commandeered train, counting on one of the few guys on the planet who knew as much about railroads and financial markets as Hill himself (or for that matter as much as Hill's nemesis Ed Harriman- E.H., famous for saying "I can distribute more stock on upticks than I can on down"); some things never go out of style....