top of page

The Mysterious Steam



Whether you believe it or not, I must confess one of the great secrets the city of skyscrapers hides. It's not something you talk about openly, as no New Yorker in their right mind will reveal it during a conversation at a café, at the laundromat, or during a casual encounter at a bar. And it's obvious. How do you discuss that New York City, the Big Apple, the Capital of the World, the City That Never Sleeps, is situated on an active and dangerous field of geysers? A lot of New Yorkers do know that. If you watch them closely, you will notice their efforts to hide their irony when offering reasons for the strange steam emanating from the sewers. Many of these explanations are really absurd but in time, widely accepted. Some might say they are vapors escaping from the city's heating system, others that they are leaks from the underground energy system. More absurdly, dubious research has been published in purportedly scientific journals to support such explanations. But the truth is that New York is a gigantic thermal source of inexhaustible energy, always about to explode. Its fields are the largest in the world, ten times larger than those of Yellowstone or the Atacama Desert in Chile, giving the city resources as powerful as many nuclear plants or oil wells. Yet this important information will not appear in any Michelin or National Geographic guide. And I believe that this dangerous and uncontrollable, constantly boiling energy flowing from the underground has in some strange way transferred its qualities to the citizens, moving with the same ambitious force thousands of investors, surveyors, workers, engineers, illusionists of the future, trapeze artists of everyday life, visionary men and women who came to build a city prosperous beyond all expectations.


When night falls and the irritated faces of Manhattan consumed by the magic of the night are transformed into something kinder; when taxis move like sleepy fireflies and the neurotic noise of police cars becomes a rumor in the distance; in the midst of all this nocturnal relaxation - if one can speak of relaxation in a city like New York - this is when all the boiling points of the mysterious steam are most clearly observed. And then, only a metaphor can explain what occurs at night: “All over the streets, thousands of spirits come out of the sewers, crawling onto the pavement. Overwhelmed bodies that after centuries of waiting in narrow conduits of porous rock rise in search of the moon while observing distrustfully a city they no longer know. And that's when the most beautiful of miracles happens. At the first contact with its light, these imperfect figures, confused but resolved, are transformed into nearly human forms dressed in shining gauze. Then you suddenly recognize that they are the spirits of generations upon generations of immigrants who worked to achieve what we call "the American Dream". Spirits that now move safely towards a definitive space, transforming an ordinary New York night into a night of reverie.



Revisión Final. 12 marzo 2023.

Traducciones: Aurelie Cotugno-Frances Early- Richard Beck



13 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 comentario


David Newman
David Newman
22 ago 2023

I was just in Carnegie Hill seeing a wonderful concert at the Y. I had soup and salad in a little place called Bread and wine. It was a good NYC experience. The place has a French/North African menu. The owner appears to be from Sri Lanka. How New York! I wasn't a rip off. That's Old New York. It's nice to know at little of it is still there. Keep writing!

Me gusta
bottom of page