7. New York’s Water Supply Comes From a Number of Upstate Reservoirs

Croton Aqueduct Gatehouse near Columbia University

Before New York’s current water supply system was in place, the city’s water came primarily from shallow, private wells. It wasn’t until 1677 that the city acquired its first public well at Bowling Green. But the citizens required more water as New York’s population continued to grow. First, a reservoir was created between Pearl and White Streets on the east side of Broadway and the Manhattan Company (now Chase Manhattan Bank) sank a well for water distribution in 1800.

The city soon decided to transport water from the Croton River in 1842, in what is now Westchester County to create the Croton Aqueduct. In 1905, the Board of Water Supply decided to tap into the Catskill region for addition water, and the Catskill System was completed in 1915. A little more than 20 years after the Catskill System opened, construction on the Delaware System began. This resulted in a number reservoirs opening, including the Delaware Reservoir, the Rondout Reservoir and the Neversink Reservoir. Currently, New York’s billions of gallons of water come from these three reservoir systems.

It should be noted that Brooklyn had its own reservoir, the Ridgewood Reservoir, which opened in 1858. It was later determined that water from the Croton Aqueduct system would be more efficient and of better quality, and water became a key factor in the consolidation of Brooklyn into the City of New York in 1898.

Check out 7 remnants of the Croton Aqueduct system in NYC.