On the Streets of New York

New York City contains some of the most unique and memorable sites in America, and I'm not merely talking about designated "sites".  On my way into Mid-town every weekday morning, I encounter people shouting tirades to fellow subway goers, one man bands, and folks wearing brilliant and unusual fashions worn for no reason at all.  I walk by sculpted works of art that I appreciated on the first encounter, but that have since become just part of the background.  I am the first to admit what a shame that is.  These are the things that make New York "New York", and to truly appreciate the city, one has to pay attention to these details.

One such detail that I had noticed in passing, but hadn't really paid all that much attention to as I passed it each day on my way to lunch, was this...

a pair of liquid nitrogen tanks just sitting in the street with yellow tape around them.  I'd passed them several times, and never really paused to wonder what they were doing there, or if they posed any kind of threat or hazard. And then one day I stopped.  And took notice (and a couple of photos)

What do they do?  Well there's a hose coming from the canisters that goes down a grate or manhole and the liquid nitrogen changes to a gas and expands, keeping copper wiring dry underneath the streets.  It belongs to Verizon and helps to keep their phone service and internet running smoothly.  In spite of the fact that there is a protective covering over the wires, there is some damage due to the elements and steam from heating, so the nitrogen assists.  

As for the tanks, they've apparently never leaked or exploded (and there are many of them around the city) in spite of occasionally being tipped over by cars hitting them.  

I find it kind of funny that they can't fund a better way of doing this, but I'm hardly a scientist, and this is just another interesting feature that is part of living in New York City.