Sometimes it seeps up as if by magic through manhole covers and sewer grates, and other times through the huge orange cylinders that Consolidated Edison places over a particularly steamy event.

It is always temporary, and only occurs in Manhattan below 96th Street. Something to do with the old Manhattan Steam Company.

Several large buildings utilize the steam, The American Museum of Natural History amongst them.

Passersby disappear into the steam, never to be seen again. Others emerge from the steam, leaving me to wonder as to their point of origin.

But the power of steam to alter New York’s ever changing streetscape is immense.

Here are just a few examples of the passing phenomenon.