Was "Wall Street" ever out of service? [telecom]

Thanks for reading this: I have a question for the historians on the list.

My brother says he read (somewhere) that the ESS telephone exchanges that serve Wall Street in New York City were out of service for several days at some time in the distant past.

I say that never happened and he read an urban legend.

Was there ever a long-term failure in an ESS that served Wall Street?


Reply to
Bill Horne
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First, define "Wall Street".

Strictly properties that have addresses on the actual street of that name. or the Manhattan financial district?

Second, a failure of _some_, or *all* of the phone exchanges that service whatever the answer to the first question is.

For the Manhattan financial district, and 'some', there is the obvious -- 9/11.

There is also the well-known incident -- late 1980s? (too lazy to look up actual date) -- when AT&T rolled out (nationally!!) a bad switch update, and virtually every AT&T/Western Electric manufactured C.O. (and tandem) switch started behaving _very_ badly.

All the Manhattan financial district 'big boys' have enough dedicated point-to- point links to 'elsewhere' that a NYC telco failure would be an inconvenience, but not catastrophic.

Now the great East Coast power blackout is another possibility. :)

Given how many of the Manhattan C.O. facilities are 'below grade', it would not surprise me that a past 'superstorm' (like Sandy) could/would have taken a lot of them out via flooding. But I can't say authoritatively that it did happen.

Reply to
Robert Bonomi

September 2001, most likely.

Reply to
John Levine

Bill -

Somewhere in the ATT Film archives (linked in the past in this group), there was a Bell System film from the mid-70s that detailed getting scores of thousands of NY subscribers back up following a large fire in a C.O. -- I thought the location was downtown NYC; can't remember for sure and don't know if it affected Wall Street. I think the affected subscriber count was around 180,000.

The outage was for a week or more, IIRC. Remarkable footage of yanking out burned and melted gear through blackened windows, and pulling gear from stock from around the USA and rushing it to NYC. (One community elsewhere in the country, slated for conversion to ESS, had their entire system sent to NYC and had to wait another

6-12 months for ESS.)

Maybe the massive outage from this fire is the event your brother read about. (?)


Reply to
Frank Stearns

The fire described above occured in 1975 and was in the Second Avenue exchange in lower Manhattan. Service in the neighborhood was out for a week or so. The following link has some information on that fire and the massive recovery effort.

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I suspect that the incident being asked about was a failure in a post Divestiture AT&T toll exchange serving downtown NYC. If memory serves, this was in the 1980s. They were running a test and switched to battery supply but forgot to switch back, and apparently the batteries simply ran down.

I don't know if the following affected Wall Street, but some years ago a programming error in a generic caused several ESS's nationwide to fail. I believe the error was in switches made in Plano, Texas.

In the early 1970s there was a telephone service crisis in New York City where dial tone often was unavailable and many calls didn't get through. One company was so frustrated it ran a full page snarky ad in the New York Times. The Bell System mobilized an effort to repair and upgrade equipment. The above link touches on this issue.

Reply to

On Nov 18, 2012, at 11:24, HAncock4

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According to the article, AT&T switched off commercial AC at the request of ConEd and had a rectifier failure so the battery string went into discharge. It also says the DACS cross connect machine lost power not the 4ESS switch itself.

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About a year before the one above. Software bug in the 4ESS software caused cascading failures in other 4ESS systems. As part of the software recovery, a bogus message would be sent which would cause the receiving 4ESS to go into recovery. The second 4ESS would launch its own bogus messages causing still more systems to go into recovery, including the first one.

Reply to
Andrew Carey

As befits a PR film, "The Miracle on Second Avenue" carefully avoided several topics:

a) What caused it?

b) Why was it so massive?

c) What did cost ($$)

d) What was the human cost?

The informed speculation I have seen was the cause was an electrically-caused explosion in the Main Distribution Frame.

Seems NY Tel had found a loophole in the Factory Mutual rules, and since their distribution was underground, had skimped and not put protectors [aka fuses] at the MDF. Then one of two things occurred:

1) "Backhoe fade" crossing trunkage with ConEd 10KV+ primaries or 2) A crew using a "hotshot" to burn out an outside plant short failed to disconnect the pair from the frame first.

In any event the MDF "exploded"...

b) The MDF area had lots of polyethylene insulated cable {PIC}. It burns well, with choking dense black smoke. The fire soon spread to panel switches. Panel had lots of spinning shafts, and they were regularly lubed, with oil. The lube dripped down into the cotton-insulted jumper bundles. If you think this resembles candle wicks, so did the fire.....

c) I never saw a published value, and suspect it was as classified as General Petraeus's email contents.

d) Many FDNY inhaled the smoke, and there were allegations of coverups of their lung damage.

In any case, the replacement MDF did have protectors, and NYT also ordered large quantities of protectors soon after...I wonder why.

Reply to
David Lesher

He doesn't mean the Feb 27, 1975 cable vault fire?

That had widespread disruptions but did not directly serve Wall Street and wasn't an ESS.


Reply to
Scott Dorsey

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