Structure/Property Name (Current and Original, if Different): (Old) Ossining Weir
Street Address/Location: Intersection of Snowden Avenue and the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park
Owner: Presumably owned by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, since it is built along the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park
Architect/Engineer/Other Responsible Parties: John B. Jervis, engineer; B. S. Church, engineer
Historic Use: According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a weir is a “a dam in a stream or river to raise the water level or divert its flow.” The weirs along the Old Croton Aqueduct were small structures that were built right over or next to the aqueduct, allowing the weir tender to have direct access to the aqueduct tunnel. The weirs had secondary tunnels that could direct water from the main aqueduct channel into nearby streams if the water flow was too high.
Present Use: None known
Architectural Style: Egyptian Revival
Period(s) of Construction: 1837–42
Date of Decommissioning: 1965 (closing of the Old Croton Aqueduct as a functioning water system)
Date(s) of Demolition: n/a
Structural System/Materials: Granite
Significant Alterations: n/a
Brief Architectural Description: Like several other structures that are part of the Old Croton Aqueduct, the weirs are built in an Egyptian Revival style, chosen for its associations with permanence and because its forms could be easily created by stonemasons. All of the weirs have pilasters along their corners, belt coursing, and a projecting cornice. The Old Ossining Weir’s conduit for excess water exits from a stone wall that shores up the aqueduct.
Brief Statement of Historic Significance: Weirs have been in use since the early twelfth century to control waterways, and the Old Croton Aqueduct’s waste weirs are a continuation of the long history of this typology. The aqueduct’s weirs serve as some of the larger visible elements of the system along its path. While six weirs had been built along the Old Croton Aqueduct when it was first constructed in the late 1830s and early 1840s, it was decided to increase the functionality of four of these weirs in the 1880s, making it possible not only to divert water and control its depth, but to stop it completely at the site of the weirs. Three preexisting weirs were altered at this time, but the Old Ossining Weir appears to have been left in its original form.
Accessibility to Public: The weir is located along the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park, so its exterior is publicly accessible.
Landmark Status: In 1992 the Old Croton Aqueduct was awarded National Historic Landmark Status.
Threats: The Old Ossining Weir is threatened by vandalism and decay, as it is in much worse shape than the New Ossining Weir.
Current Interpretation: None known
Mark R. Edwards, “The Architecture of the Old Croton Aqueduct,” Columbia HP Thesis, 1976.
John B. Jervis, Description of the Croton Aqueduct (New York: Slamm and Guion, 1842).
Robie S. Lange, “Croton Aqueduct,” National Register of Historic Places Registration Form (Washington DC: National Park Service, October 1991).
Larry D. Lankton, “Manhattan Life Line: Engineering the Old Croton Aqueduct, 1833–1842,” Historic American Engineering Record (HAER No. NY-120) (Washington DC: Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, 1979).
T. Schramke, A Description of the New York Croton Aqueduct (New York and Berlin: Mundt Berlin, 1846).
Edward Wegmann, The Water-Supply of the City of New York: 1658–1895 (New York: John Wiley and Sons; London: Chapman and Hall Ltd., 1896).
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