Street Address/Location: Parallel to and slightly west of Columbus Avenue from 95th Street to 102nd Street
Town/City: New York
Architect/Engineer/Other Responsible Parties: Fayette B. Tower, Engineer; Bishop & Campbell, Contractor
Historic Use: To convey the Old Croton Aqueduct at grade across the Clendening Valley.
Present Use: N/A
Typology: Crossing/Aqueduct Bridge
Architectural Style: Classical
Period(s) of Construction: ~1839-1841
Date of Decommissioning: 1870s
Date(s) of Demolition: 1870s
Structural System/Materials: Granite ashlar masonry bridge supporting brick conduit and cast iron pipe
Brief Architectural Description: This aqueduct was constructed to span the small valley found in this area. The crossing consisted of a solid masonry wall carrying a brick conduit lined with iron. The wall was broken in three places–at 98th, 99th, and 100th streets–by tripartite openings, each consisting of a large (30 feet wide) central span for carriages flanked on either side by smaller (10 feet wide) side spans for pedestrians. The wall completely blocked the paths of the future 96th, 97th, and 101st Streets. The entire structure was demolished and replaced with underground pipe in the 1870s.
Brief Statement of Historic Significance: The somewhat irregular structure of the crossing (a solid masonry wall pierced in a few places by arches to allow for through traffic) was the product of political compromise: “When the Whigs gained control of state government in 1840 (for two years), they impaneled a slate of cost-cutting water commissioners (led by old alderman Samuel Stevens) who won a vote by the politically divided Common Council to scrap the planned Clendening arches in favor of a cheaper solid wall. Democrat Isaac Varian responded with the first veto by a New York mayor. Varian explained that not only was the council order beyond the council’s authority and a violation of existing contracts, but the unbroken wall it mandated would be a barrier to development. And so a Solomonic compromise was made: a solid wall would rise at the northern and southern ends, comprising half the valley crossing’s length, and the partially constructed nine-arched midsection would be completed. Within twenty years, the Clendening farm was gone, and the streets and sidewalks of 98th, 99th, and 100th streets passed beneath those arches. In the 1870s, development demanded more: the aqueduct section was shifted underground into a pipe siphon and the entire valley crossing–the arched central portion and the solid wall blocking 96th, 97th, and 101st Streets–was torn down. Some might say that the valley has never countenanced its development: after its degeneration into a dense region of shabby tenements, 1950s urban renewal delivered the current ‘banal … slab and balcony’ high-rise apartments of Park West Village” (Koeppel, “The Rise to Croton,” 45-48).
Accessibility to Public: N/A
Landmark Status: No
Current Interpretation: None
Image: F.B. Tower. Illustrations of the Croton Aqueduct. New York and London: Wiley and Putnam, 1843.
Gerard Koeppel, “The Rise to Croton.” Water-Works: The Architecture and Engineering of the New York City Water Supply. Kevin Bone, ed., Gina Pollare, Associate Editor. New York: Monacelli Press, The Irwin S. Chanin School of Archtiecture of the Cooper Union, 2006. Pgs. 45-48
Gerard A. Koeppel. Water for Gotham: A History. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2000. Pgs. 215, 231, 235-236, 243, 254, 257-258, 290
FICHE PREPARED BY
Jørgen G. Cleemann