9. The Jewish Theological Seminary has the largest collection of Hebrew manuscripts in the world

The Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan
Courtesy of the Jewish Theological Seminary

The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) is one of the many educational institutions in Morningside Heights, as one of the largest academic centers of Conservative Judaism in the world. In addition to operating five schools, the institution features a Special Collections wing with the largest collection of Hebrew manuscripts on earth with 11,000. There are over 2,500 dealing with subjects of rabbinics alone. These also include manuscripts about the “Bible, Jewish philosophy and poetry, liturgy, and philology.”

In addition, the Library contains 43,000 fragments from the Cairo Genizah from the Ben Ezra Synagogue, including a letter signed by Maimonides. There’s also the most complete collection of early Hebrew printed books, from the birth of movable type to 1500; over 500 Jewish marriage contracts; 430 scrolls, including Torah and Haftarah scrolls; and Kabbalistic writings and genealogical charts.

10. There are remnants of the old Croton Aqueduct in Morningside Heights

Croton Aqueduct gatehouse

Before 1842, fresh water was only accessible to the New York City elite. Since most of the population could not afford clean water, epidemics like cholera became major concerns since they had spread through the rivers and springs of Manhattan. However, the Croton Aqueduct would provide a 32-mile gateway for clean water from Upstate New York to downtown Manhattan. It could carry up to 100 million gallons of water a day, but the New Croton Aqueduct (built in 1890) could provide double that. However, much of the Old Aqueduct’s infrastructure is still intact.

The Croton Aqueduct gatehouses provided access to the aqueduct for maintenance and regulation of water flow. Two gatehouses in Morningside Heights along Amsterdam Avenue remain, at 113th and 119th Streets. However, the one on 119th Street, constructed in 1894 of granite blocks and topped by a slate-shingled roof, is still in disrepair. A New York Times article from 2018 described its interior: “Everyone peered into the gloom. The arched windows were sealed. Dirt and sand covered the ground. Sections of decorative iron fencing were stacked in a corner.”

Next, read about the secrets of Columbia University!