DEP Archives

On February 17th, our group ventured to the far east edge of Manhattan–at the corner of FDR Drive and 38th Street–to visit the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) archives. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures because of security concerns, so this visit is documented in text only. The archives are housed in a warehouse/garage building that is not really set up for outside visitors, but once we signed ourselves in, the DEP archivists welcomed us to their huge room on the upper floor of the warehouse. The DEP archivists had set out about twenty drawings of various elements of both the old and the new Croton Aqueduct systems for us to study. Most of these drawings were of Manhattan aqueduct elements, with a few Bronx and Westchester structures included as well. Drawings were of structures such as the High Bridge, Highbridge Tower, several gatehouses, the Central Park reservoirs, the New Croton Dam, and the Jerome Park Reservoir. The drawings were beautiful to look at and also offered us further insight into the workings of the aqueduct systems. Things we learned from our visit to the DEP archives include: how the gates that regulated water flow operated in the 119th Street Gatehouse, construction details of the New Croton Dam, what the elements of the 135th Street Gatehouse’s spiral staircase looked like, the topography surrounding the two Central Park reservoirs, and the structure of the Highbridge Tower’s roof. After perusing the drawings for about an hour and a half, the entire group gathered to discuss our next steps for the aqueduct project. We decided that we will work to fill in any gaps in our collective time line and data spreadsheet, brainstorm about what kind of goals we want to set for ourselves for the remainder of the semester, and start to look at the existing interpretation of the Croton Aqueduct in more depth. After establishing these next steps, we exited to the accompaniment of the archive’s blaring door alarm–a fitting end to a security-conscious but fruitful visit.


About crotonaqueduct

Aqueduct System located in NY
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