The Historical Croton Aqueduct System—comprising the Old Croton system and the aboveground portions of the New Croton system built between 1836 and 1911–derives its primary significance from aspects relating to the following five categories:
– Architecture – The Croton Aqueduct System includes a diversity of structures executed in a wide range of architectural styles—including Egyptian, Classical, Romanesque, Gothic, and Italianate. As a whole, the architecture of the System thus illustrates the evolution of architectural trends in the United States during one of the most significant periods of the country’s growth. Although built to serve utilitarian purposes, the fine craftsmanship and attention to detail apparent in many of these structures testify to a deep concern and appreciation for architectural beauty.
– Engineering – The Croton System represents a feat of engineering that is truly extraordinary—both for its sheer scale and also for the technologies developed in the course of the construction of the system. Many of these systems—such as the calming pool at the base of the Old Croton Dam and the overhead cableway used in the construction of the Sodom Dam—came to be accepted as standards in similar construction projects for years to come.
– Social History – From the deadly cholera epidemics whose effect on the urban populace marshaled public and legislative support behind the construction of an aqueduct; to the lives of the groups of laborers of varying ethnicities who constructed the aqueduct under frequently abject conditions; to the protestations of the Westchester landowners who objected to the construction and work crews in their pastures; to the new era of public sanitation that commenced with the completion of the system—all aspects of the conceptualization, construction, and development of the Croton System reflect the social conditions of a particular moment in the history of the Greater New York area.
– Landscape – The construction of the Croton system permanently altered the contour and character of a contiguous ribbon of land connecting New York City, the Bronx and Westchester. At the same time, however, the nature of the landscape itself played a crucial role in the functional and aesthetic properties of the system. The resulting landscape has been a unique fixture of these communities, and in some cases a decisive factor in their economic rebirth. This landscape thus provides a vital link to the history of the region, and demonstrates the interrelationship of urban and rural areas.
– Cultural History/Tourism – Nearly from the time of their construction, various components of the Croton System—most notably, High Bridge—were established as desirable venues for socializing, sightseeing, and recreation. Therefore, quite apart from its significance as a necessary piece of infrastructure and engineering, the Croton System also provides insight into a crucial element of the cultural history of the region.