Suggestions for the Public Supply of Steam

about 1870–78
Edward Alfred Sargent (American, 1842–1914)

Object Place: New York, United States; Place Depicted: New York, New York, United States

Catalogue Raisonné

Karolik cat. no 638


Image: 27.6 x 36.2 cm (10 7/8 x 14 1/4 in.) Sheet: 32.7 x 44.6 cm (12 7/8 x 17 9/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Watercolor, heightened with white on paper

Not On View


Americas, Prints and Drawings



In a place that seems vaguely like lower Manhattan, it is winter and summer at the same time. Buildings are on fire on one floor while people calmly go about their business on another. Factories hum, bankers are warmed, and sidewalks kept clear of ice—all by the power of steam. The nerve center is in the basement of the building on the right, filled with dozens of boilers. This watercolor seems to be the design for a print that advertised Lewis W. Leeds’s ideas about steam, but we haven’t been able to find out if the print was ever made.

Looking down Broadway from 23rd Street. Coach in snowy street left, fire above; sectional elevation of activities in printing building foreground right.


Inscribed lower left in brown wash: E. A. Sargent. Del.; lower left in white gouache: - REFERENCE - / GREY, SEWER - / RED, STEAM- BLUE, FRESH WATER- / GREEN, SALT WATER.; lower center in white gouache: SUGGESTIONS FOR THE PUBLIC SUPPLY OF STEAM/ FOR HEATING, COOKING, EXTINGUISHING FIRES, MELTING SNOW & c. / WITH IMPROVED SUBWAYS FOR PIPES, SEWERS, TELEGRAPH WIRES &c.; lower right in white gouache: LEWIS LEEDS / 110 BROADWAY N.Y.; right margin in graphite: Typesetting / Grinding / do / Folding / Folding / Printing / Printing / Show


Maxim Karolik, Newport; Gift to MFA May 10, 1961

Credit Line

Gift of Maxim Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Watercolors and Drawings, 1800–1875