21 October 2010

Warmth

For some time now, the Times has had a weekly column in which a staff photographer picks an old photo and runs it with a little commentary. Last week, I opened the paper and my jaw dropped. Cats. On manhole cover. There's a framed 8 x 10 glossy of that very same photo in my mother's house. When it had run in the Times back in 1970, she liked it so much that she called up and ordered a print.

Did you know that manhole covers could be warm? The one and only time that I've ever been to the Macy*s Thanksgiving Parade, it was freezing and sort of drizzly. Somehow, I ended up standing on a manhole cover, a nice hot manhole cover. It kept my feet warm, though it kind of flattened the soles of my Keds.

And do you know why the manhole covers are warm? It's the dragon under Manhattan. Well, that's what one tells one's child, but actually it's the steam pipes leaking. Yup, 2010 and there are 105 miles of steam pipes running to buildings throughout Manhattan - for heating, cooling and power. Kind of amazing, huh?

So those cats? They knew what they were doing.

14 comments:

Pinky said...

My jaw just dropped, too. I've always thought of that as just another of our family photos.

YourFireAnt said...

We have steam pipes running under our campus here, and in the winter there are warm spots (sometimes whole lawnsworth). But no cats, alas.

I think I would've ordered that photo too.

T.

FreshHell said...

Cats always know what they're doing and they're usually pretty smart about it.

de said...

This post is a confluence of serendipitous events! I love it.

Anna said...

If you finish Godel, Escher, Bach by 12/29/10, I will vow to read it by 12/29/11.

Lovely photography, btw.

RuthWells said...

Cats always know best. It's a fact.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

That makes me think of a fantastic book I read about the immigrants digging the sewer and water lines that make New York possible--I cannot, for the life of me, remember the name.

bipolarlawyercook said...

Dragons running amok in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade (or maybe amok, maybe just just hanging out?) would be totally awesome. I like that even better than steam pipes. Although cats on steam-warm manhole covers is neat of itself.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I LOVED that photo and how magical that your mother had that photo; you should get it too; now I am sort of scared of manholes as they blow up rarely and electrocute small dogs or people walking their dogs - what is the status of the kittens?
Liz

jo(e) said...

It's still a great photo after all these years.

flutter said...

Love this love it love it.

What a fabulous post

The Library Lady said...

Cats ALWAYS know what they are doing. It's what makes dog loving humans uncomfortable.

mayberry said...

How cool! And whenever you pass a manhole, you should check to see where it's made. Most of them (along with those tree grate things and other ironwork you find on the street) bear the name of my city.

heidi said...

Your Mom had such an awesome eye.