New York City has a handful of observation decks, and a plethora of rooftop bars, but many New Yorkers are unfamiliar with the handful of buildings and structures that can be climbed to experience unique views of the City. These historic vantage points have become fewer and fewer as security and privatization have trumped public access. Despite their limited access, sometimes only once a year at most, it is well worth planning ahead to take in these historic vistas.
Completed in 1872, the Highbridge Water Tower was constructed as part of the Old Croton Water Aqueduct System. The granite tower was designed by Roach & Jenkins and was constructed in order to create the necessary pressure to provide the higher elevations of upper Manhattan with water from the reservoir. At full capacity, it contained over 47,000-gallons of water.
The tower was decommissioned in 1949 and a carillon was added in 1958, as a memorial to B. Altman the department store owner and art collector, though it has since been removed. It is currently being restored again with an anticipated completion date of March 2016. Once complete, make sure to keep an eye out for opportunities to climb the impressive iron staircase decorated with quatrefoils and other designs in this historic tower.