Street Address/Location: 86th Street, at southern edge of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir
County: New York
Owner: City of New York
Architect/Engineer/Other Responsible Parties: Calvert Vaux (landscape designer), George S. Greene & W. L. Deerborne (engineers)
Historic Use: regulation and distribution of water from Central Park Reservoir (now Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir) to Manhattan below 86th Street
Present Use: not currently in use
Architectural Style: Fortress style
Period(s) of Construction: 1862
Date of Decommissioning: 1993
Date(s) of Demolition: N/A
Structural System/Materials: Granite block exterior, brick interior
Significant Alterations: N/A
Brief Architectural Description:
The gatehouse was composed of a sturdy granite exterior with a small balcony overlooking the reservoir. The brick interior was divided into three compartments: the fore bay through which water first passed from the reservoir, the back bay receiving water from both sides of reservoir (allowing one side to be drained for repairs while distribution continues from the other side), and the pipe valves below ground. Above ground, the interior contained two basins of still water enclosed by railings, about 50 by 20 feet each, with rows of large breaks behind. A circular iron stairway led into a well 40 or 50 feet deep, where the water flowed into six main pipes, each four feet in diameter. These pipes distributed water along main avenues into Lower Manhattan, and each had a stopcock 20 to 30 feet from its mouth to allow pipes to be shut off individually for repairs.
Brief Statement of Historic Significance:
The South Gatehouse played a crucial role in distributing water to Manhattan, and its sturdy presence and prominent location in Central Park rendered it a strong visual representation of the Croton system. Upon its completion, the public was invited to view the gatehouse, considered a marvel of engineering, before water was let into the reservoir; The New York Times declared that “The public may never have another opportunity to view this really magnificent triumph of engineering skill…All should seize the opportunity to view the new works before the bibulous supply of the Metropolis submerges them perhaps forever.”
Accessibility to Public: located in Central Park, which is free and open to the public; gatehouse is locked
Landmark Status: located in Central Park, which was designated a NYC scenic landmark in 1974
Current Interpretation: limited signage
Historic: “From Croton to Town.” Appleton’s Journal of Literature, Science and Art. 6 July 1872.
“From Croton to Town.” Appleton’s Journal of Literature, Science and Art. 6 July 1872.
“Local Intelligence: The New Reservoir,” The New York Times. 30 June 1862.
Gray, Christopher. “Streetscapes: The Central Park Reservoir.” The New York Times. 20 June 2004.
Postal, Matthew A. et al. “Reservoir.” Guide to New York City Landmarks. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2008.
Rideing, William H. “Croton Water.” Scribner’s Monthly. Vol. XIV No. 2. June 1877.
Wegmann, Edward. “Catalogue of Illustrations of the Water-Supply of the City of New York.” New York: 1893.
“What a Water-Gate May Do.” The New York Times. 30 Aug. 1875.
FICHE PREPARED BY Tatum Taylor