Original Piece of EMPIRE STATE BUILDING plumbing going to Auction

Share With:

We’re auctioning a Water pump gauge which was part of original plumbing installation of the Empire State Building c. 1930.

The item will go live at 23:30 GMT (NYC 18:30 EST) on Sunday 21st February on a 7 day ebay auction. Search ebay after that date to view or bid.

Coming to market from its private owner Mr Brian Purcell, who was foreman on the 1980’s plumbing refit of water pump room
in the Empire State Building. Brian received the gauge from the Engineering Dept. as a memento. The Gauge was from Pump No. 5 which used to pump water to the very top floor of the building.

Brian Purcell was an Irish Imigrant at that time and now runs his own plumbing company back in Ireland. Remembering his time working in the Empire State, it was a huge undertaking to take out 5 of the old pumps to install 6 new.

Photographs of Brian’s time show the old pump (top right) and new installation nearing completion.

The original installation of the gauge was there from the inception of the building and lasted surprisingly long gathering a wonderful patina, which greatly adds to its character. Early in its lifetime it was crudely painted with a drab green paint over the blackened brass, presumably to make it more visible. This same olive drab paint can be seen on parts of the old pump in the photo. The 800 pounds per square inch rating of the pump gives some idea of the loads involved to push the water to the top floor.

Reflecting back on the installation: “Transferring from old pump to new, there was a slight hiccup in almost letting the building run out of water!
The electrics failed on the new pump, so urgently we had to revert back to the old pump for a while. The possible problems from running out of water were incomprehensible, unlike a domestic system.”

Brian can be contacted directly should you wish an interview and higher resolution versions of the images are available here:

Join the conversation: