The 1842 Croton Water Celebration Medal

Here’s a fine example of the medal produced for the Croton Water Celebration, when what we now call the Old Croton Aqueduct opened to public use on October 14, 1842. This is currently being offered by John Kraljevich, a leading expert in American historical medals, coins, paper money and related Americana, who has graciously allowed … Continue reading The 1842 Croton Water Celebration Medal

Croton’s Waves in All Their Glory

Today is the 172nd anniversary of the Croton Water Celebration, when what we now call the Old Croton Aqueduct opened to public use on October 14, 1842. The day-long celebration included a massive seven-mile-long parade, songs written and performed for the occasion, and culminated in jets of pure, sparkling water rising fifty feet in the … Continue reading Croton’s Waves in All Their Glory

The Greatest Jubilee That New York . . . Has Ever Boasted

This month is the 171st anniversary of the “greatest jubilee that New York or America has ever boasted—a jubilee in commemoration of the greatest blessing that a city like New York could receive—the introduction of an abundant supply of pure and wholesome water.” 1 The jubilee took place on October 14, 1842 and the quote is … Continue reading The Greatest Jubilee That New York . . . Has Ever Boasted

The Ultimate Bird’s Eye View of Manhattan

Here’s the perfect follow-up to our recent post on bird’s eye view maps of the Croton Aqueduct—an interactive mashup of an 1836 map of Manhattan, georeferenced with satellite images of the city today.1 Using a “spyglass” map viewer you can switch back and forth between the two maps and explore 177 years of growth and … Continue reading The Ultimate Bird’s Eye View of Manhattan

Bird’s Eye Views of the Croton Aqueduct, 1879-1887

Here are two priceless “bird’s eye” views of the Croton Aqueduct, made eight years apart during the period when New York City was rapidly outgrowing the capacity of what we now call the Old Croton Aqueduct. One map looks north, showing the burgeoning metropolis in 1879—straining the water supply system with its unrelenting growth. The … Continue reading Bird’s Eye Views of the Croton Aqueduct, 1879-1887

Croton Reservoir in Central Park, Rejected Design

In 1857 the Central Park Commission held a contest to improve the landscape design of the newly opened park. Thirty three entries were submitted, only five of which have survived today. Two of the rejected designs are currently on display at the New-York Historical Society, giving us a look at the Central Park that might … Continue reading Croton Reservoir in Central Park, Rejected Design

Croton Reservoir, circa 1865

This image of the Croton Reservoir in Central Park is from a stereoview, taken as part of Deloss Barnum's "Views in Central Park" series. Barnum, who during his career was referred to by several variant names, was a photographer in Boston and New York in the mid-19th century. This rare stereoview is currently for sale on eBay, and the … Continue reading Croton Reservoir, circa 1865

Croton Reservoir in Central Park, 1865

A detail from an exquisite map of Central Park, published in 1865. The map appeared in A picturesque Guide through the whole Park showing all the improvements up to June 1865, published by L. Prang, Boston. The reservoir was drained in 1931 and filled with excavation material from Rockefeller Center and the Eighth Avenue subway. Today it … Continue reading Croton Reservoir in Central Park, 1865

Croton Reservoir in Central Park, 1874

A detail from Watson's New Map of New-York and Adjacent Cities. Published by Gaylord Watson, 16 Beekman St., 1874. Another detail showing the distributing reservoir at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue (where the New York Public Library is today) is below. The entire map is available online at David Rumsey.

Croton Reservoir, 1879

The Croton Reservoir was opened in 1842 as the distribution reservoir for the Croton water system. The reservoir covered four acres and could hold 20,000,000 gallons of water. It was constructed in an Egyptian style which, in common with other civic buildings, made explicit reference to great civilizations of the past and suggested that New … Continue reading Croton Reservoir, 1879