Built between 1837 and 1842, the Croton Aqueduct fed a growing metropolis’ huge need for clean drinking water as well as water for fighting fires.
The water had quite a journey to travel. From the Croton River it crossed the Harlem River over the beautiful High Bridge.
Then it flowed into a receiving reservoir in the West 70s between Sixth and Seventh Avenues (not quite yet the middle of Central Park; the park hadn’t been built yet).
From there it reached the Egyptian revival–style distributing reservoir at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, and then to streets and households all over Manhattan (who paid an annual fee for the water, of course).
The old Croton Aqueduct was in use until the 1890s (the Harper’s Magazine illustration at left is called “Shutting Off The Croton”), when it was replaced by a new aqueduct by the same name and used through the 1950s.
Amazingly, some of the 19th century aqueduct gatehouses (where the inverted siphon pipes that carried the water connected) still stand.
One is fenced off at Amsterdam Avenue and 118th Street (above). Completed in 1895, it replaced an older gatehouse at Amsterdam and 119th Street.
Another gatehouse, at Amsterdam and 113th Street, has been repurposed into a senior center.
A third gatehouse is on Convent Avenue and 135th Street in Harlem—it’s a beauty (above).
The gatehouses and manhole covers aren’t the only visible reminders of the aqueduct. Incredibly, part of an old reservoir wall appears to remain in the south wing of the New York Public Library building, which was built on the site of the distributing reservoir. Catch a glimpse of it here at Daytonian in Manhattan.
Tags: Croton Aqueduct Gatehouse, Croton Aqueduct NYC, Croton Reservoir Bryant Park, Croton Reservoir Central Park, Harlem Croton Aqueduct Gatehouse, Remains of the Croton Aqueduct, Upper West Side Croton Aqueduct