New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne emphasized to the media that the explosion was not terrorism, but a broken 24-inch steam pipe installed circa 1924. Con Edison workers speculate that the explosion most likely occurred by the introduction of cold water into the pipe.
The steam cleared around 8 p.m. ET, exposing a crater several feet wide. A red tow truck lay at the bottom of the hole.
“Millions of pounds of steam are pumped beneath New York City streets every hour, heating and cooling thousands of buildings, including the Empire State Building,” MSNBC reported.