Australia’s Penal Colony.

Let Me Remind You…
About Australia’s founding Penal Colony.

Captain Arthur Philips of the HMS Sirius landed the first boat at the shores of New South Wales (now, currently Sydney). It was a long time since his boots touched solid land, but now they crunched on the hot rocks of Botany Bay. Even though it was January 1788, the temperature was warm and sunny. It was a quick reminder he was now in the Southern Hemisphere, where seasons were in opposite months from his home in the UK.
It took two years to get here and if the passengers were restless and agitated before, the trip around the world didn’t help. Food was scarce, with almost 800 passengers spread out over 6 ships, it was no wonder tensions were high as everyone was crammed into a 200ft space, practically sleeping on one another and fighting over food. They wouldn’t be the first fleet to come either; there was already a plan for more ships to bring more “passengers”.
Disease was rampant. Cholera, dysentery, and typhoid ravaging bodies through the boats, killing some. The ones that survived did so on small rations of hardtack and mush.

The passengers ranged from nine years old, up to eighty-two. The men were the first to arrive to the island with a mission to establish an “agricultural work camp”. They would literally have to start from scratch; finding and building their own accommodations, and prison quarters. The “passengers” that had arrived, and would be arriving for the next century were convicts from the UK mostly, some from New Zealand and few other countries.

In the mid-eighteenth-century London, at the peak of the industrial revolution, people found themselves out of work because the new technologies that took over their jobs for them, including farmers. With the lack of work and loss of money, the already overcrowded London received hundreds, if not thousands of people from the surrounding country towns. The overpopulation, lack of jobs and food led to thousands of poor, hungry families and in-turn, skyrocketing crime rates. Eventually the jails became overcrowded, and officials grew tired of even the pettiest of crimes. No matter if a person robbed someone or murdered them; rioted or had a minor assault, they started shipping them off to America. But then the American revolution ended, they were no longer welcome there and the UK was forced to find somewhere else to ship their misbehaved. Insert Australia: the new prison. It was no matter to them that the large island was already inhabited by aboriginal peoples, they had “dealt with” that when they colonized America over 150 years earlier.

The aboriginal peoples knew the new settlers were there but left them alone for the most part; silently watching them from the bushes. Very rarely were there encounters, but Captain Philips was adamant that the aboriginal Australians were treated with kindness and respect—even when he was speared in the shoulder by one during an altercation.

Captain Philips

It took only 2 years for the settlement to become stable and about 5 for it to become fully established. Until then, the unfamiliar land and climate proved difficult to learn how to tend for food. For years, fleets bringing more prisoners also brought food. So when a ship of women convicts came, with the thought of boosting moral for the men, they were ill received at first; looked at as “more mouths to feed”. Not to mention that some of the women had given birth along the 10-month voyage. But, after time, the men relented, and the women were welcomed.
During the 5 years, Captain Philips had tried to return to England, but communication was lacking as they seemed to have been mostly forgotten. By the time the 3rd fleet arrived with 2000 passengers, they had to send a boat to Calcutta for supplies. Despite that though, he managed to incorporate his past job experience and create a whaling industry, bringing trade to the harbor. He also started tending sheep to breed and raise them for their wool. At this point, some of the convicts’ sentences were already running out, but they remained and started farming the land and tending to the sheep. Captain Philips managed to get off the colony about 10 years after he got there.

Though some of the prisoners were well behaved and served their time, some were so rotten they were unmanageable and had to be sent away to a smaller island off Australia, called Norfolk island. At the time it had been inhabited by the East Polynesians, but when the prisoners got there they left. No one would return for almost 100 years, when the descendants of the mutineers from The Bounty were taken there from Pitcairn island.

By 1868, over 160,000 convicts had been sent to Australia but they put an end to the penal colony. They had been dealing with protests against the penal colony for many years at this point since Australia had been established as free in the 1820’s. People were living there now, separate from the jail. They didn’t like the colony being there any longer.
Even though the convicts had been emancipated, many stayed and started a life in Australia. The last convict, Samuel Speed, died in 1938.
It’s said that 20% of the people in Australia are descendants of the penal colony. Even a former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.


New York City’s Historic Steam System

Let Me Remind You…
About New York City’s Steam System

Everyone knows what happens if you put a whistle-top kettle on the stove, half-full with water, and turn the heat up as high as it will go. When the water starts to boil rapidly, it produces steam, when that steam escapes through that whistle, you know it’s done and time to make tea.
But what if you boil water to 305-450 degrees Fahrenheit in a closed system with strategically placed vents, like radiators and other systems of pipes throughout a building? You now have heating, cooling, steaming and in some instances, even sanitization.

Harnessing and controlling the power of steam is not a new invention by any means. The ancient Romans were one of the first to use steam to heat up their homes and baths.
A few hundred years later, in 1882, some businessmen in New York City started the New York Steam Company, providing steam heating/cooling to over 300 buildings. The city gave them a contract and they built the first boiler plant at the site of the world trade center.

But in 1888, a blizzard blanketed the city in snow, knocking out power lines and forcing everyone inside, trying to stay warm. This tragedy was an eye opener for officials. They saw how efficient steam power was for the 300 buildings and they extended the contract to service over 1500 buildings in NYC, which happens to be the same number today. Some saying closer to 1800.

Using steam instead of coal reduces carbon emissions (though I’m not certain they were overly concerned about that at the time), and changed how we see NYC today. If it weren’t for the steam system, the skyline would be dotted by buildings covered in chimneys and the power grid would be far more extensive and less eco-friendly.

1888 blizzard leaves the city blanketed in snow

NYC has the largest steam system in the world, larger than the other major steam-using cities put together.
Some of the more notable buildings that have always used steam include the Empire State building, The Chrysler Building, Grand Central Station and Rockefeller. Apartment buildings in NYC still have steam heating/cooling systems.
Having steam used in these buildings allows for other buildings like hospitals to divert the use of electricity for modern machinery like MRI’s and Xrays  etc. and using the steam for heating/cooling, sanitizing and laundry.
Museums even use the steam technology to help regulate the humidity in the galleries in order to help preserve the artwork, restaurants use it to sanitize dishes and laundromats use it for pressing clothing.

The great part about the steam system is that it can be tapped into without requiring your own boiler. Kind of like just attaching a pipe under your sink to drain in more than one place.
Obviously, it would be efficient to have your own boiler system, especially if you’re not near one of the boiler plants, and even though the entire system is completely interconnected, some places do have their own system. NYU has the largest privately-owned facility. These smaller plants are called “co-generation plants”.

But with the massive power of steam being forced through the pipes comes disaster. A user on a forum* said that he was speaking with a ConEdison employee about why residents on a massive stretch of the city didn’t have water leading up to Hurricane Sandy. The employee said, “ they’re doing it so that floods won’t hit the steam pipes and cause explosive rupture, with flying manholes to boot.”
Despite being made from heavy metal and getting serviced monthly, there’s still room for error, or fluke accidents, usually caused by a compromised pipe that’s decades old, affected by something called “steam hammer” or “water hammer”, which can lead to a faulty steam trap and cause explosion. this usually occurs when the hot steam is traveling through the pipes and runs into something cold, like water. These have happened a few times in the past. A couple notable ones happened in 1989, and another in 2007.

1989 steam pipe explosion

So next time you’re in NYC, If you see one of the iconic orange and white stacks in the street, shooting steam out the top, that means they’re working on some pipes below. If you’re lucky, you might have seen an (illegal) art installment by an artist, Mark Reigleman II,  who makes small houses to put over the stacks and it looks like steam is coming out the chimney. Though the city is aware of him, they haven’t been able to catch him yet.  

Mark Reigelman art installation: “Smokers”

fun fact: 1 gallon of water will produce 8lbs of steam.

Sources: (photo only)

As always, thank you for taking the time to read! Have a great day!

Kristina Moore is the Author of The Pecan Trees, available on Amazon.