13. Roosevelt Island Used to Have An Artificial Geyser

A Walking path along the East River with a view of the Queensboro Bridge

The Delacorte Fountain was dedicated in 1968 by George T. Delacorte, who wanted New York to have an equivalent to Switzerland’s Jet D’Eau. It sprayed East River water hundreds of feet into the air across from the United Nations on the southern edge of Roosevelt Island. However, the New York Times reported in 1987 that the city’s Parks Commissioner had fears that “liquid waste was being flung 400 feet in the eyes and faces of people who lived on Sutton Place.”

In response to this, the water was chlorinated, which lowered its height to 240 feet. During the later drought years, people worried the fountain would represent overconsumption of water, so it was turned off. In 1985, the powerful streams of water washed off the topsoil from some newly planted trees and crushed a car roof. The next year, the geyser stopped working.