Please note that the last steam whistles event was on January 31, 2014. Below is information from when it was still in practice.
Every year on New Year’s Eve, Conrad Milster sets up his collection of steam whistles at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Pipes crisscross the lawn ultimately linking up to Pratt’s remarkable steam-powered electric generator.
The sound these whistles produce is truly awesome. The steam-engulfed blasts vibrate through your very being before echoing off the surrounding buildings for several seconds. Visually, they are also spectacular.
An amazing display from a different era, with each blast, an enormous cloud of steam explodes from each whistle, engulfing passers-by. While Conrad Milster’s collection of whistles is remarkable in and of itself (his collection includes locomotive and riverboat whistles as well as one utterly seismic whistle from the SS Normandie), the steam-powered generator that runs it is truly amazing.
It is the longest continuously-operating, privately-owned, steam-powered electrical generating plant in the country and it is a thing of beauty. You can take a tour of the generator at any time of year and talk to Conrad Milster, its chief engineer about steam power and his whistles.
2014 was the last year for the New Year’s Eve ceremony.