119th Street Gatehouse

Street Address/Location: SE corner 119th Street and Amsterdam Avenue

Town/City: New York

County: New York

Owner: City of New York


Architect/Engineer/Other Responsible Parties: George W. Birdsall (Chief Engineer), John W. McKay (Assistant Engineer), Mario Lorini (Assistant Engineer), Peter J. Moran (Contractor)

Historic Use: Gatehouse

Present Use: Vacant

Typology: Gatehouse

Architectural Style: Romanesque Revival

Period(s) of Construction: 1894-95

Date of Decommissioning: 1990

Date(s) of Demolition: N/A

Structural System/Materials: Load-bearing masonry wall construction, steel truss and terra cotta block roof structure; granite, dolomite, slate, stained-glass, cast iron, wrought iron

Significant Alterations: Below-grade levels filled in with sand, windows sealed with stone

Brief Architectural Description: The one-story gatehouse has a square plan (unknown dimensions) and is on a sloped site. The structure sits on a rough-cut granite base and contains a water table, exterior walls and cornice of rock-faced dolomite. The front (northern) facade features a cast-iron door topped by a semi-circular stained-glass window, and two arched windows, all of which are framed by granite voussoirs. Arched windows framed by voussoirs are also present on the other facades (two windows on the east and west facades, one on the south). The overall form is very similar to that of the 113th Street Gatehouse, and conveys a sense of solidity and durability and seems to have been inspired by Romanesque Revival architectural design. A hipped slate roof completes the structure.

Brief Statement of Historic Significance: The current gatehouse replaced an older gatehouse (ca. 1842) that was located in the middle of the road at Amsterdam Avenue and West 119th Street on “Asylum Ridge.” By 1890, the Morningside Heights area was growing and the structure became an obstruction to increasing street traffic. A new gatehouse was thus built on the east side of the street on New York City land acquired as early as 1877. The original structure (1842) functioned as the southern connection between the inverted siphon pipes running through Manhattan Valley (to the north) and the above-grade aqueduct (to the south), which was moved below-grade in 1870-75. The extant structure was built and served as the transition point between the inverted siphon and the standard pipe that brought the Croton water downtown. Work on this new structure began in early 1894, with the foundation excavated by March of that year; water began flowing through in July. Most of the structure was completed by December 1894, and it was officially completed in March 1895.


Accessibility to Public: None

Landmark Status: New York City Landmark (2000, LP-2051)

Threats: Demolition by neglect, general deterioration

Current Interpretation: None


Cost of construction was $40,000.


LPC Designation Report, Jay Shockley, 2000.

“POSTINGS: The West 119th Aqueduct Gatehouse; Landmark Designation Nearing,” The New York Times, December 19,1999.


Julie Rosen


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