Odds are, you’re here because you saw a sign hanging from that funny little building on the corner of Amsterdam and 119th Street and thought to yourself “I’ve always wondered what that thing is!”
Well your days of wondering are over: the building is a gatehouse dating from 1894-95. It is part of the Croton Aqueduct- a 41-mile engineering and architectural masterpiece built in the 19th century to bring much-needed water to the city of New York and its surrounding areas. The 119th Street gatehouse served as the transition point between the inverted siphon at Manhattan Valley and the standard pipe that brought the water downtown. The one-story gatehouse has a square plan and seems to have been inspired by Romanesque Revival architectural design. The structure sits on a rough-cut granite base and contains a water table, exterior walls and cornice of rock-faced granite.
But what is it now you ask? The 119th Street Vermin Hotel owned by New York City. Slight exaggeration but the building was decommissioned years ago and has become home to a healthy community of rats.
So you’ve come this far and read all that history only to discover that the funny little building isn’t anything? Kind of anti-climactic, right? That’s where you come in.
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Want to read more about the 119th Street Gatehouse? Check it out here.