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than in England, in proportion to the amount of gas used, , but the whole business of gas manufacture has succeeded better with us than with our friends on the other side of the Atlantic. This is admitted by so high an authority as Prof. Faraday, who admits also that the cause of the difference is to be found in the superior intelligence which presides over the American works. “ This,” he says, “is perhaps the only instance in which the Americans surpass us in the practical operations of science, but that they do surpass us in it, there can be no question.” Dr. Henry, in commenting on this, is constrained to acknowledge the fact ; but, he adds, that it is a state of things that has occurred accidentallybecause there was so much prejudice against the introduction of the gas in England, that only an inferior class of minds engaged in it; whereas in America it engaged at once the attention of some of our best thinkers-a difference which has been maintained to the present day. A few simple facts, the truth of which cannot be disputed, will place this in a clear light. In the first place, it requires twice the amount of permanent capital to carry on the same amount of business in America that it does in England, for these reasons : The price of labor is double. In England one pound sterling per week pays for the services of the gas maker; whereas in New York services of the same kind and amount cost from $9.50 to $10. Nearly half the coal used by the Manhattan Gas-light Company has to be imported from England, because the English coal is so much superior to the American coal. More has to be paid for freight on the imported article than for the article itself, and it involves an additional cost of twenty-four per cent. duty. Although coal costs thus twice as much in New York as it does in London, coke sells for the same price in the former, that it does in the latter, city. This may seem strange, but it is no less a fact, and one that can be easily accounted for. In New York the coke has to compete with anthracite coal, whereas in London they have no anthracite.*
Independently of this competition, there are a great many well-meaning people in this country, who labor under the impression that inasmuch as coke has already been partly burned, and deprived of its gas, it follows that it cannot produce so intense a heat as coal ; but that the reverse of this is the fact, has heen proved by the best chemists. Dr. Henry, of Edinburgh, informs us that he has “ learned that the heat produced by coke, when compared to that produced by coal, is at least as 3 to 2.". Mr. Winsor, having made experiments with the same view, found that it required three bushels of coal to distil a given quantity of water, and only two bushels of coke. Being rather surprised than satisfied with this, he tried the same substances by combustion, with a certain
Besides, the castings for retorts and street pipes can be purchased in England or Scotland, and sold in New York (paying freight and duty), at as low a price as the similar castings produced here. Notwithstanding all these disadvantages and inconveniences, the gas costs very little more in the American, than in the English, metropolis ; indeed, if the quality of the gas be taken into account, and the manner in which the money is collected, it may be said to be as cheap here as it is in London. But were we charged three times as much as our friends on the other side of the Atlantic, certain it is that, under all the circumstances, we should have no reason to complain.
In order to be able to judge for ourselves as to the justice of the above comparison, so complimentary to New York, we have visited the gas works of both our city Companies ; also the Brooklyn works. This, however, would not have qualified us to come to any definite conclusion on the subject, had we not previously made similar visits to the London works. True, it is some five or six years since the latter were made; but we doubt whether any very important improvements have been made in them since. At all events we are sure that they do not exhibit more neatness, and are not conducted in a more orderly manner, than those of the Manhattan Gas-light Company; nor do we mean by this any reflection on the London works, which are not surpassed, in these respects, by any similar works in Europe. But in our opinion those at Fourteenth street and Eighteenth street may be regarded as models. Never have we seen machinery of any kind kept in more perfect order. To say that it is scrupulously neat in all its ramifications, would give little idea of the brilliant polish everywhere presented by all parts of it that are susceptible of polish. It is not our intention to enter into particulars. A description of the Eighteenth street works alone would fill our whole article ; for they are on a scale of magnitude, of which few, who have not visited them, have any adequate idea. But the miniature “works” alone—those used for testing the qualities of different kinds of coal, sent for that purpose from all parts of England, as well as this country-would amply repay the scientific student for the trouble of a visit, though he were not to enter the general laboratory at all, or witness the experiments by which the comparative purity and brilliancy of the gas are tested. At Fourteenth street and Eighteenth street, there are five retort houses, which contain 1,948 retorts, and fifteen telescopic gas-holders, containing a total of 4,069,000 cubic feet.
measure of oxygen gas, but with a similar result. This set the matter at rest in England, so far as the relative heat was concerned ; but then it was said that if coke made as hot a fire as coal, or hotter, at least the former was not as wholesome as the latter. This, too, the most learned chemists and physicians pronounced a gross error. Ever since, the demand for coke has been so great in all. the large cities of England, that the gas manufacturers cannot produce sufficient to supply it. But in this country it is different. In spite of our innumerable free schools and armies of teachers, the old prejudice still prevails against coke; whereas, in point of fact, it is superior to coal in every property that ought to recommend it for family use, except the rapidity with which it burns. In other words, coal lasts longer than coke; and this is the only sense in which the former can be said to be superior to the latter.
The annual amount of gas manufactured is 786,432,000 cubic feet. This is carried through pipes whose aggregate length is over 220 miles, extending, as they do, in all directions, from Grand street to Seventy-ninth, varying in diameter from three to twenty inches, and supplying about 27,000 private consumers, and nearly 9,000 street lamps. The amount of coal necessary to produce all this gas exceeds 79,000 tons per annum; about one half of which is imported, at a cost of from $7.00 to $11.50 per ton; and we believe the present price of the gas is $2.50 per 1,000 cubic feet. There are only two cities in the United States, so far as we are aware, where it is sold cheaper than this, namely, Philadelphia and Pittsburg. In the former, the price per 1,000 is $2.13, in the latter $1.50; but that there is a much greater difference between the qualities of the different articles, all who have seen the three kinds are aware- -so great, indeed, that the New York gas is the cheapest in the end. This will be the more easily understood when it is borne in mind that, in other cities and towns where coal has to be imported, as in New York, the prices range from $3.50 to $6.50 per 1,000 cubic feet.
The consumption of gas is not so great in this city as it is in London, in proportion to the population, because in the latter city it is used for various purposes, to which it has not hitherto been applied in New York. It may seem strange that there are hundreds of families in London who never have any artificial heat in their houses but that produced by gas. Nor must it be supposed that they labor under any privations on this account. They have gas stoves, of such construction that they heat their rooms, so as to render them perfectly comfortable; and they have stoves of another form, which serve for cooking purposes.* If it be objected that these must necessarily produce a deleterious atmosphere, the answer is, that gas is now used both in Europe and America for the express purpose of ventilation-for purifying instead of adulterating the air. Nowhere is it more extensively used for all the purposes mentioned, than in London, though the London gas is decidedly of inferior quality, far inferior to ours, especially when considered in a sanitary point of view. So defective is it regarded in this respect by those best competent to test its qualities, that the two Houses of Parliment continued to be lighted with candles for years; both Lords and Commons objecting to its introduction, on the ground of its being deleterious. No doubt the reports” of the Royal Society had considerable influence in thus preventing its admission. Finally, however, it was resolved to
introduce it, but only in a purified state. Though we have • seen the improved light ourselves, we prefer to present the
facts from an English point of view; so that we may not incur the suspicion of seeking to depreciate the London gas, as compared to our own. In Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 445, there is an interesting article on the subject, from which we take the following extract, premising that the gas, in its improved state, is known as the “Bude Light:"
“This gas is made to pass through a box containing naphtha, which naphthalizes it and renders it equal to the best oil, without the trouble of wicks. The London street gas, it is necessary to explain, is of bad quality, and it is improved by the vapor of naphtha. * The apparatus for supplying the oxygen placed in a vault, adjacent to Dr. Reid's ventilating process. It consists of two iron retorts, built over a furnace, and in these is put a certain quantity of oxyde of manganese, from which oxygen is evolved, and led away in pipes to a gasometer; from the gasometer small pipes proceed to the burners in the house, each conducting a stream of oxygen into the heart of the flame.
The light so produced is most intense in brilliancy, but is softened by the intervention of ground glass, and illuminates with a powerful effect the whole interior of the apartment. The flame being supplied freely with oxygen, a comparatively small quan
"By the aid," says Prof. Rutter, “ of a simply-constructed apparatus, gas performs the respective processes of roasting, baking, frying, boiling, steaming, &c., and with a precision that cannot be attained by means of a common fire. Two or three days' experience is sufficient to enable servants to conduct any of the above-mentioned operations with certainty as respects time ; whilst the trouble and attention required are less than by the ordinary method. It is acknowledged by those who have witnessed the process of roasting by gas, that it is the most perfect in the culinary art; the meat being cooked uniformly, and the juices (on which its nutritious qualities and delicacy of flavor so much depend) being retained until brought to table."-- Advantages of Gas-light, &c.,
tity of atmospheric air is abstracted, or consumed, and all offensive heated air from the combustion is carried away in a small tube into Dr. Reid's ventilating gallery above. Before the introduction of this beautiful light, the House of Commons was illumined with two hundred and forty wax candles, dispersed about in different parts; a method of lighting which Sir David Brewster has described as most absurd, and such as no person, at all acquainted with the physiological action of light on the retina and the principles of its distribution, could have adopted.* If I recollect properly, the expense of using the Bude light, in which naphtha is required, is about twelve times greater than that of common London gas, sizes of flame being equal; but that as the Bnde flame gave twelve times more light, the expense was in reality the same, without the inconvenience of many burners and a great consumption of air. Another useful property is, that the light may be varied in tone from the most perfect white down to the red ray, by increasing or diminishing the quantity of oxygen."
Fortunately, there is no need for the use of naphtha in New York, in any large quantity ; indeed, we are not aware that any of it has to be used at all. The Liverpool, or cannel, coal does not need it; nor does the American coal, which is mixed with it—at least, when properly distilled. It may be asked, why cannot the London companies procure the same kinds of coal, and thereby obviate the necessity of using naphtha ? So they could, no doubt, if they chose to incur the necessary expense; but it must be remembered, that, although the Liverpool coal is much nearer to London than it is to New York, it can be brought to the latter city at a much cheaper rate, or, rather, we should say, at a rate much less expensive.
Those, who have never paid any attention to the subject, have little idea of the elaborate processes through which coal-gas has to pass, from the time the coal is put into the retort, until the former is fully purified and fit for useprocesses, many of which require the nicest skill of the chemist. Even to determine the quality of the gas, after it has been manufactured, by photometric observations, as Mr. Roome does daily, at his private office in Irving place, requires no small amount of chemical knowledge and experience. For the benefit of those unacquainted with chemistry, we will here state a few facts in illustration of this. Gas, prepared from coal, is a compound, chiefly composed of two inflammable gases, known as olefiant gas, and light carburetted 'hydrogen. Each of these is compounded in turn of hydrogen and charcoal. There are several other gases which enter into the composition of coal-gas, but only in