Sing Sing Kill Bridge

Street Address/Location: Near 95 Broadway

Town/City: Ossining

County: Westchester

Owner: City of Ossining

STRUCTURE/PROPERTY

Architect/Engineer/Other Responsible Parties: John B. Jervis (Chief Engineer)

Historic Use: Aqueduct Bridge

Present Use: Aqueduct Bridge/Pedestrian Trail

Typology: Bridge

Architectural Style: N/A

Period(s) of Construction: 1839-42

Date of Decommissioning: N/A

Date(s) of Demolition: N/A

Structural System/Materials: Granite, brick, cast iron, hydraulic cement mortar

Significant Alterations: Arched road-bridge constructed under the aqueduct bridge in 1861.

Brief Architectural Description: The Sing Sing Kill Bridge has an exterior of granite. A portion of the interior structure is composed of brick arches, while the entire bridge is supported on a solid rock foundation with twenty-foot thick abutment walls.  The granite and gneiss blocks were supposedly cut so precisely that the joints were not more than 3/16 of an inch thick. Jervis chose to design the arch span as an elliptical arch composed of a “compound curve drawn from five different centers,” instead of a more-traditional semi-circular span. The span itself is 88 feet wide. The height of the arch itself is 33 feet. And the bridge lies approximately 82 feet above the stream.

Brief Statement of Historic Significance: The Sing Sing Kill Bridge was built to carry the Old Croton Aqueduct over the Sing Sing Kill, a small stream that, over time, had eroded enough earth to form a deep gorge, in the Village of Sing Sing, part of the Town of Ossining located eight miles from the Old Croton Dam. Jervis insisted that hydraulic cement mortar be used to join the masonry in all of the Aqueduct structures in order to preserve them, because hydraulic cement could set under water and was relatively water-resistant, unlike lime, which was typically used for construction projects during the mid-nineteenth century. After all, Jervis was very concerned about the water pipes leaking, since this could lead to sever freeze-thaw damage of the bridge. As a result, he designed the Sing Sing Kill Bridge to include a series of internal brick arches (instead of an interior filled with earth) which allowed any leaking water to flow into the spaces between the interior arches and exit through specially-placed drainage pipes so that it would not infiltrate the masonry. As an additional precaution, Jervis lined the bridge with cast iron plates (5/8” plates bolted together, with the joints filled with iron cement, a mixture of small iron pieces and ammonium chloride), an idea he learned from Scottsman Thomas Telford’s design for the Chirk Aqueduct Bridge in Wales. The inside of the bridge was also coated with three coats of hydraulic mortar. The Sing Sing Kill Bridge was associated with two additional arches. The Old Croton Aqueduct National Register nomination stated that,” while the Sing Sing Brook itself would have required only a modest arch, a much larger arch was required to accommodate a…roadway bridge which crossed the line of the Aqueduct at an odd angle. [And], required by state law to minimize the creation of impediments to local landowners, the Chief Engineer also had to include a small passageway through the bridge to provide a land owner access from his house, which was on one side of the Aqueduct bridge, to his field on the other.”

INTERPRETATION

Accessibility to Public: Daylight hours

Landmark Status: Part of the Croton Aqueduct National Register designation, 1974, updated 1991; Part of Croton Aqueduct National Historic Landmark designation.

Threats: Deterioration of stone; deterioration of road-bridge below aqueduct bridge- proposed plans for demolition

Current Interpretation: Old Croton Aqueduct Trail pedestrian trail

SOURCES

Alden, Henry Mills, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, Volume XXII, December 1860-May 1861, Harper & Brothers, New York, 1861

Appleton, D., Appleton’s Dictionary of Machines, Mechanics, Engine-Work, and Engineering, D. Appleton and Company, New York 1873

Kroessler, Jeffre, The Old Croton Aqueduct: Rural Resources Meet Urban Needs, The Hudson River Museum of Westchester, Yonkers, 1992

Lange, Robie S., Croton Aqueduct, National Register of Historic Places Nomination, October 1991

Laws of the State of New York, Passed at the Eighty-Fourth Session of the Legislature, Munsell & Rowland, Albany, 1861

Tower, F.B., Illustrations of the Croton Aqueduct, Wiley and Putnam, New York, 1845

Wegmann, Edward, The Water-Supply of the City of New York: 1658-1895, John Wiley & Sons, 1896

FICHE PREPARED BY

Julie Rosen

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